The Seed War (Parts 1 and 2)

November 28, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

The Seed War (Parts 1 and 2)

 

Excerpt: 

 

More recently, we had a stark case study in what happens when corporate globalization is given total power, violent and bureaucratic, to impose exactly what it wants. When the US attacked Iraq, part of its extermination campaign was against all Iraqi culture. As Naomi Klein described in Shock Doctrine and several articles, the goal was to wipe everything clean and impose a blank slate upon which corporate domination could be directly and fully encoded. One example was the assault on seeds and indigenous farming. The seed bank at Abu Ghraib, a priceless repository of thousands of years of Mesopotamian cultivation, knowledge likely to be of critical importance in the age of climate change as more arid conditions expand, was attacked and destroyed by a mob.

 

Iraq’s agriculture was disrupted in general, as always happens in a war. When the farmers tried to rebuild, they were confronted with a typical globalist Catch-22. The same invaders who had destroyed their agricultural heritage now offered them aid in the form of proprietary seeds. At the same moment Paul Bremer, the US equivalent of Hans Frank in the General Government administrative zone of Poland, decreed that all proprietary globalization “law” applied in the case of Iraqi agriculture. This was a direct violation of international law, but we see what kind of law of the jungle really prevails with globalization.

 

Bremer’s Order 81 applied all the strictures of patent domination to the farmers who were at that moment being offered the choice of accepting the proprietary seeds or facing total ruin. (All other aid was conditional on taking the patent deal. It was a textbook example of an unconscionable contract of adhesion, in other words no contract at all according to human law.) This domination includes the truly obscene notion that when through natural inertia, negligence, or deliberate release, the patented seed spreads to the fields of a farmer against his will, he’s declared objectively in violation of the patent and subject to draconian legal penalties. This obscenity has already been enshrined in Canada. So Monsanto’s agent here tried to accomplish directly, by main force, what they’re trying to accomplish more gradually and insidiously everywhere else, including at home in America.

 

How is it possible that if your neighbor is negligent and lets his pollen spread to your field, or if Monsanto deliberately disperses it there, or if the wind simply blows, that you become a status criminal, an IP violator? Why, on the contrary, isn’t Monsanto guilty of a tort against you, by strict liability? The answer is that it would be under any accountable, human rule of law. But the law has abdicated. This is the anti-sovereign corporate law, which is an exact inversion of human law, just as the corporations are existentially anti-human, their very existence an affront to human dignity. They’re literally satanic according to Judeo-Christian theology.

 

What is to be done? Since this post was about seeds, let’s consider what is to be done about seeds. One thing’s clear – we cannot rely on seed vaults like the one in Norway. Even if these weren’t vulnerable to corporate domination, the basic idea is wrongly conceived – one big fort rather than a decentralized dispersal.

 

What do most individual plants do? They don’t hoard their seeds at one spot in the soil. They disperse them a widely as possible by all sorts of vehicles.

 

So the real Seed Banks we need will have to prize resiliency and redundancy over reinforcing one site as a hard target. They must be outside of official control mechanisms. Our seed banks have to be our own stewardship and propagation of our own heirloom seeds. Here’s one innovative idea for a legal framework for the seed commons. It would apply existing cooperative licensing to enshrine a system where anyone can innovate and sell his innovation, but not control the subsequent innovations of the buyer, and so on virally.

 

The Seed War (1 of 2)

 

Food sovereignty is a human right. It’s utter nonsense and fraud to even speak of democracy, freedom, or human dignity if people are chronically hungry under conditions of food abundance. Nature and human labor collaborate to produce a great bounty, and yet it disappears. It is stolen. The power structure seeks to artificially generate food scarcity. This has always been the case with food.

 

The situation is far more dire than is the case with mere money. The worst of the banksters’ crimes isn’t the theft of mere money itself, but that they have organized the mass plunder of our very food. This is the starkest metric of how our governments have abdicated sovereignty. They have surrendered control of our food to corporate monopoly rackets, whose only interest and will is to commodify, monopolize, drive us into economic ghettos to dominate and starve us.

 

It’s out of this dire need that there has arisen one of history’s most important movements, the Food Sovereignty movement.

 

Food sovereignty is the RIGHT of peoples, countries, and state unions to define their agricultural and food policy without the “dumping” of agricultural commodities into foreign countries. Food sovereignty organizes food production and consumption according to the needs of local communities, giving priority to production for local consumption. Food sovereignty includes the right to protect and regulate the national agricultural and livestock production and to shield the domestic market from the dumping of agricultural surpluses and low-price imports from other countries. Landless people, peasants, and small farmers must get access to land, water, and seed as well as productive resources and adequate public services. Food sovereignty and sustainability are a higher priority than trade policies.

 

So says La Via Campesina, a pioneer of this movement for human redemption.

 

· The right to food and food sovereignty: NGOs/CSOs affirm that the right to safe, adequate and nutritious food and healthy water is a fundamental human right of individuals and groups and food sovereignty that of peoples and nations, as well as the right of farmers, peasants and fisherfolk to produce food for their own families and their domestic markets. These fundamental human rights have to be respected by international institutions, governments and the economic actors.

 

That’s the words of the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty.

 

Our Commitment to the Land
*Translated from a poster that hangs in many MST offices, settlements and encampments throughout Brazil.*

MST Commitments to the Earth and to Life

Human beings are precious, for their intelligence, work and organization can protect and preserve all forms of life.

1. Love and care for the Earth and all natural beings.
2. Always work to improve our understanding of nature and agriculture.
3. Produce food to eliminate hunger. Avoid monoculture and pesticides.
4. Preserve the existing forest and reforest new areas.
5. Take care of the springs, rivers, dams and lakes. Fight against the privatization of water.
6. Beautify the settlements and communities, planting flowers, medicinal herbs, greens, trees…
7. Take care of trash and oppose any practice that contaminates or harms the environment.
8. Practice solidarity and revolt against any injustice, aggression or exploration practiced against a person, the community or nature.
9. Fight against latifundia for all that possess land, bread, studies and freedom.
10. Never sell conquered land. Land is the ultimate commodity for future generations.

 

We must fight to realize this vision of Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement.

 

Any contract abdicating food sovereignty is the equivalent of a contract for slavery. Even by our rigged law, this is considered an impossibility. Or let’s consider what the author of The Social Contract, Rousseau himself, has to say about it:

 

If an individual, says Grotius, can alienate his liberty and make himself the slave of a master, why could not a whole people do the same and make itself subject to a king? There are in this passage plenty of ambiguous words which would need explaining; but let us confine ourselves to the word alienate. To alienate is to give or to sell. Now, a man who becomes the slave of another does not give himself; he sells himself, at the least for his subsistence: but for what does a people sell itself? A king is so far from furnishing his subjects with their subsistence that he gets his own only from them; and, according to Rabelais, kings do not live on nothing. Do subjects then give their persons on condition that the king takes their goods also? I fail to see what they have left to preserve.

It will be said that the despot assures his subjects civil tranquillity. Granted; but what do they gain, if the wars his ambition brings down upon them, his insatiable avidity, and the vexatious conduct of his ministers press harder on them than their own dissensions would have done? What do they gain, if the very tranquillity they enjoy is one of their miseries? Tranquillity is found also in dungeons; but is that enough to make them desirable places to live in? The Greeks imprisoned in the cave of the Cyclops lived there very tranquilly, while they were awaiting their turn to be devoured.

To say that a man gives himself gratuitously, is to say what is absurd and inconceivable; such an act is null and illegitimate, from the mere fact that he who does it is out of his mind. To say the same of a whole people is to suppose a people of madmen; and madness creates no right………

To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man, to surrender the rights of humanity and even its duties. For him who renounces everything no indemnity is possible. Such a renunciation is incompatible with man’s nature; to remove all liberty from his will is to remove all morality from his acts. Finally, it is an empty and contradictory convention that sets up, on the one side, absolute authority, and, on the other, unlimited obedience. Is it not clear that we can be under no obligation to a person from whom we have the right to exact everything? Does not this condition alone, in the absence of equivalence or exchange, in itself involve the nullity of the act? For what right can my slave have against me, when all that he has belongs to me, and, his right being mine, this right of mine against myself is a phrase devoid of meaning?……

So, from whatever aspect we regard the question, the right of slavery is null and void, not only as being illegitimate, but also because it is absurd and meaningless. The words slave and right contradict each other, and are mutually exclusive. It will always be equally foolish for a man to say to a man or to a people: “I make with you a convention wholly at your expense and wholly to my advantage; I shall keep it as long as I like, and you will keep it as long as I like.”

 

(Since the entire passage is relevant and profound to our purpose, I reproduced it whole here.)

 

Along with the land itself, the most important battlefront is the Seed War. The biotech rackets want nothing less than world domination through control of the seed supply. They’re getting lots of help from our corrupt anti-sovereign governments. As one example, take a look at the Food Tyranny bill looming in Congress. The House version, passed in 2009, implicitly clamps the government’s metallic grip onto the life-giving seed:

 

(3) include with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment… and water….

Ah, such a little paragraph, and so much evil packed in it. Notice they mention harvesting, sorting and storage operations? Notice they never mention seeds, but they are precisely what those words cover.

Now, watch how they will be able to easily criminalize seed banking and all holding of seeds. First, to follow how this will be done, you must understand that:

1. There is a small list inside the FDA called “sources of seed contamination” and
2. The FDA has now defined “seed” as food,
3. So seeds can now be controlled through “food safety.”

Those seeds (so far) include:

*seeds eaten raw such as flax, poppy sesame, etc.;
*sprouting seeds such as wheat, beans, alfalfa, most greens, etc.;
*seeds pressed into oils such as corn, sunflower, canola, etc.;
*seeds used as animal feed such as soy ….

That includes most seeds. It may even be all seed, given how they are skilled at ‘new’ definitions.

And what are the “sources of seed contamination” per the FDA? They include only six little items:

*agricultural water;
*manure (but not chemical pesticides or fertilizers);
*harvesting;
*transporting equipment;
*seed cleaning (sorting) equipment; and
*seed storage (storing) facilities.

Did you know that seed cleaning equipment is THE single most critical piece of equipment for sustainable agriculture? It is how we collect organic seed. It is the machinery used after the season, when plants “go to seed,” to separate out (sort) the seeds from the plant material so the farmer can collect (harvest) and then save (put in storage) seed for the next year at little cost. With his own seed, the farmer also stays free of patented, genetically engineered, corporately privatized seeds.

 

This is typical of the governmental assault on seeds on behalf of the corporate pirates. But most of the assault is more oblique and ideological. “Intellectual property” (IP) is one of the key concepts corporations are using to force their version of a command economy upon many sectors which are vulnerable to economic relocalization and detachment from predatory rents. In the case of food, the goal of Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont, ADM, Cargill, Tyson, Smithfield, and others is to force us to use only proprietary Terminator seeds. These are seeds which sprout only once as sterile plants.

 

GMOs should not be tolerated regardless.

 

1. They don’t work. They don’t increase yield, contrary to the lies of MSM hacks. They only reinforce monocropping industrial agriculture. Farmers were foolish enough to like this at first. Although they weren’t producing more per acre, what they did produce was cheaper to produce. But this was predictably a false economy. How reliable was faith in Monsanto, that it wouldn’t jack up the price once you were hooked?

 

Mr. Begemann [a Monsanto cadre] said that Monsanto used to introduce new seeds at a price that gave farmers two thirds and Monsanto one third of the extra profits that would come from higher yields or lower pest-control costs. But with SmartStax corn and Roundup Ready 2 soybeans, the company’s pricing aimed for a 50-50 split.

 

2. They don’t work, but they do have tremendous risks. I’ll get to those shortly. First let’s get back to the command economy assault.

 

There are several tactics here:

 

1. Attain an expansive pseudo-legal concept of IP in the first place. This means:

 

  A. Trying to patent the genome itself. This concept is universally rejected by everyone but biotech cadres  and globalization extremists. Even the US government recently backpedaled from this extreme position, its previous default.

 

  B. Patent any synthetic modification of it, and make the legal range of this modification as expansive as possible. This too is invalid. The genome is a creation of nature, and modifications of it are simply tinkerings. (That is, from any “innovation” perspective, the one we’d have to be taking if we’re talking about the alleged validity of IP. I’m not referring to the potential effects, but only how much work a corporation contributed.) The research on this was publicly funded. The USDA developed the Terminator seed.

 

Most crop varieties are the result of thousands of years of breeder selection. All such work is in the public domain. Genetic engineering is just a tweak, in terms of the work done. If somebody changes a light bulb in your house, does he now own your house? That’s basically what the biotech rackets are claiming.

 

For both those reasons – the ”innovation” is merely a minor adjustment of public ideas, and the research was public funded – it’s not legitimate to grant patents for GMOs. If the genome belongs to anyone, it belongs to society. As the modification of the genome is a cooperative effort, that definitely belongs to society. All IP in plants is invalid.

 

IP in food is also unacceptable from the points of view of national sovereignty and national security. If a society as a society is unable to control its own food supply, if it’s impotent before either external or internal enemies (and by now who knows which kind of enemy a multinational corporation is), can it be said to exist at all?

 

According to Hobbes himself, such a “sovereign” would have abdicated, and we’d be in the state of nature. Since the corporations want to put us there, and the government is putting us there, why don’t we respond by calling only ourselves the society, let the outlaws be outlawed, and restitute all that’s ours? We worked for it, we paid for it. And the Earth itself provides all the materials.

 

2. Force proprietary seeds upon the producers. The basic plan is to use GMOs as a form of Walmartization, drive out all non-GMO producers, render all alternatives uneconomic, indeed cause the literal extinction of many heirloom varieties, get all farmers hooked, and then jack up the price.

 

A. Market pressure – dumping, lowballing, other anti-competitive practices, the whole fencerow-to-fencerow government propaganda and subsidy policy.

 

B. Globalization adhesion contracts – These allow the “protection” of only GMO varieties, which gives them another monopoly advantage.

 

C. Structural adjustment and “austerity”, the extortion born of the globalist debt-sharecropping system, also force it.

 

D. The seed contracts themselves are also indentures. If not literally crop liens, they impose lots of restrictions extending far into the future for any farmer who chooses not to renew the contract.

 

3. Ban alternatives. For example, I mentioned above the FDA’s definition of “seed” and how the Food Tyranny bill modifies that. In principle, this bill would empower the FDA to ban any particular heirloom seed, or heirloom seeds as such. [Heirloom seeds are those which can be saved to replant the same plant variety. Hybrid seeds are prone to have screwed-up offspring, and are therefore too unreliable for the grower. Therefore hybrid seeds can’t be saved but must be repurchased each year.] We already know they have the corporate corruption motive. The raw milk raids and the FDA’s legal brief in a lawsuit over this demonstrate the intent. This bill seems to provide the opportunity.

 

(Once again, we must always remind ourselves and others, if the health racket mandate is allowed to stand, there will be ZERO constitutional barrier to the government’s mandating any private product upon any flimsy pretext. In this case, the FDA will feel it has added authority to mandate proprietary hybrid or GMO seed purchases. Or for that matter to mandate that food be bought only from approved sellers, like ADM and Kraft, and only at approved retailers like Walmart. If the logic of the health insurance mandate is valid, then that of Orwellian “food safety” sure is.)

 

So there’s how they want to enclose the natural and cooperative food wealth and then force us to buy it back from them in infinite extortion increments. Monopoly is the water torture of civilization itself. Every rent extraction is both an injury and an insult.

 

And in this case it’s literally a threat to our lives. Islamic terrorism is no existential threat to America. But corporate food monopolies are. They constitute a clear and present danger to all the world’s people.

 

This joins the two types of threat, biological/environmental and socioeconomic. What is this IP Sword of the Terrorist Damocles?

 

1. It’s a terrorist assault on biology itself.

 

A. They intentionally seek monoculture, heirloom variety extinction, and all the biodiversity knock-on effects of that. (Monocultured fields are a desert, inhabited mostly by vermin species like rats and cockroaches, and invasive weeds.) And with the total dependency upon synthetic herbicides, we’re seeing the predicted rise of Superweeds. That’s why Monsanto has been paying farmers to use competitors’ herbicides against the Superweeds impervious to Monsanto’s poisons. They’re trying to get everyone to sign legal waivers.

 

B Seed homogenization renders us extremely vulnerable to any kind of economic or ecosystem collapse. (All of industrial agriculture encourages this vulnerability.) Picture the subprime bubble, but instead of trillions in digital “wealth” being vaporized, picture vast amounts of our food failing to be produced because of a superbug, soil collapse, acute oil or natural gas crunch, etc.

 

C. If the Terminator technology escapes, it can have horrific effects.

 

This hybrid is produced only to prevent the germination of anything a farmer might grow in her field. This strips the productive, life giving quality from the earth and turns it over to a research lab. This product will mean much more than massive profits and high food prices. Besides violating the age-old techniques of farming, the engineered seed also poses immediate risks to the environment and entire ecosystem as well. It has already been shown that genetically altered seeds can spread its sterile pollen to other plant species also making them unable to reproduce or otherwise altering the genetic makeup of the species. Molecular biologists reviewing the technology are divided if there is a risk of the Terminator function escaping the genome of the crops into which it has been intentionally incorporated. Many biologists warn that there is a threat of the crops moving into surrounding open pollinated crops or wild, related plants in fields nearby (Shand and Mooney, 1998). There have already been dozens of instances of genetically modified foods creeping into the general food supply and threatening food safety. In the case of the Terminator seed, the means of this “infection” would be by way of pollen from Terminator altered plants. Given nature’s incredible adaptability, and the fact that this technology has never been tested on a large scale, the possibility that the Terminator may spread to surrounding food crops or to the natural environment is a real risk of potentially limitless proportions.

 

This leads to:

 

2. What if they intentionally release Terminators into the ecosystem, as anti-ecological terrorism? Of course, their negligence and the inevitable leaks of any such system have already allowed and will continue to allow this technology to enter the environment.

 

A. This could in theory wipe out non-GMO crops.

 

B. It’s already being used as a tool of persecution.

 

We already know Monsanto’s goal is to achieve world domination through seed domination. As we’ll see in Part 2, even before GMOs, seed hybridization was already recognized as sublimated human genocide. This virtual mass murder, by now very literal, has advanced tremendously. We’re entering upon the final conflict.

Comments (5)

 

The Seed War (part 2)

Filed under: Civil Disobedience, Corporatism, Food and Farms, Freedom, Globalization, Law, Neo-feudalism, Relocalization, Sovereignty and Constitution — Tags: Iraq, neoliberalism — Russ @ 4:11 am

In part 1 of this piece I described the neoliberal corporate-government plots against seeds and the accumulated agricultural practices of ten thousand years. The Food Tyranny bill which may be voted upon as early as tomorrow is potentially part of this assault. It will expand the power of both the corporatized FDA and the WTO globalization cadre.

 

We should take this not only as an assault on food freedom but as an example of how the WTO is intended to serve as the blueprint for corporatized government everywhere. The unconscionable contracts of adhesion it forces upon the politically weak populations of the Global South with the connivance of indigenous kleptocratic ”governments” were a trial run for the imposition of corporate domination in the West itself. We’ve already seen how in every case where it was a power struggle between multinational corporations and the peoples of the world outside the West, the globalization cadre acted as a weapon against the people.

 

Western governments of course were aggressive promoters of this process, and the middle classes of the West shamefully approved it. That’s because they were foolish enough to believe these governments were “their” governments, and not like the corrupt governments of the victim countries who acted as local agents for the rackets, against their own people. Now the peoples of the West reaping for themselves what they thought they sowed for others. It turns out the US government is exactly as corrupt on behalf of rootless, alien globalization against the American people as those of Romania and the Ivory Coast on behalf of Smithfield against their own peoples..

 

The Food Tyranny bill explicitly subordinates all US food policy to the WTO and extends the domestic range of the rootless ruling principles of the Codex Alimentarius. It legally defines all food within America as being technically imported, as coming under Maritime Law, and any production or distribution of food contrary to the law’s provisions is technically “smuggling” according to this law. What we see here is nothing less than a major step in this domestic government’s explicit abdication on behalf of the anti-democratic, anti-sovereign alien globalization bureaucracy.

 

I don’t mean the abdication of power, of course. Just as the ”libertarians” want, the government intends to continue acting as bailout bagman and thug enforcer on behalf of the corporations. But it wants to abdicate all authority to the globalization cadre itself, since this is explicitly a totalitarian branch of corporatism completely detached from the nominal national sovereignty. The corporations want to effect an actual secession of power and authority from sovereignty. The globalization ideologue Dani Rodrik described this as the “trilemma”: It’s not possible to maximize corporate power through globalization authority other than as a zero sum game assaulting national sovereignty and democracy. He was simply honest enough to say aloud what every globalizer always knew and intended, that globalization is the vicious class war of all rootless elites combined against all the peoples of the world. It’s the vicious war of extermination on sovereignty and democracy in themselves.

 

This food bill is just one example, but wherever the rackets can achieve a global market, the same process is already advanced or intended to advance. The whole world is to become one big Free Trade Zone concentration camp. (That’s of course economically impossible, since how could the impoverished inmates also serve as the consumer base? But this contradiction never stopped capitalism before. It’ll simply drive itself to its own eventual destruction this way, but it will also do all it can to destroy us all in the process.) It’s all about power and domination.   

 

When the Khmer Rouge came to power in Cambodia, in addition to pre-emptively assaulting the cities on behalf of the farmers (supposedly to turn the tables and do unto others before they do unto you), they also embarked upon their own version of Stalinist collectivization, their own war upon the farmers. This involved forbidding the growing of indigenous rice cultivars, the knowledge of which was the basis of the Cambodian food supply and in a broader sense the human culture of the country. Instead the regime mandated the growing of imported Chinese varieties which were ill-suited to the conditions of Cambodia, and completely alien to the knowledge and culture of the peasantry. The predictable result was an 85% decline in production. But this was a price the Khmer Rouge was willing to pay, since over the short run the point wasn’t to maintain production. It was to impose power. Since a key power tactic is to completely uproot the people, detach them from every frame of reference, every anchor they have, and force them to look to the regime itself as the one and only stable point amid the chaos, it follows that destroying all existing knowledge of food production and forcing the people to start from scratch is a potent way to enforce domination over them.

 

This same Khmer Rouge strategy has been imposed by capitalism (and industrial communism) right form the start. The goal has always been to drive people off the land and into slums. This maximizes the number of people who are completely detached from any food production whatsoever. Meanwhile those who still do farm are to be subjected to the forces of capitalist production. That means the constant revolutionization of the procedures, technology, and basic concepts of production. Synthetic fertilizers, the crop lien, dependence upon cash crops, mechanization, collectivization, dependence upon federal subsidies, the chemicals of the Green Revolution, total monoculture, dependence upon global markets, the fencerow-to-fencerow Stalinization of American farming, the rise of Monsanto, and now GMOs – all of these are milestones in the history of the farmer’s complete passivity in the face of power imposed upon him from on high. What the Khmer Rouge did was firmly in the mainstream of this whole process (their only innovation was to reverse the ideological line: they weren’t extracting for the cities, but drove people back out of the cities).

 

In all of this, domination of food, and in particular the eradication of all food culture, is the totalitarian goal. Stewards of heirloom seed varieties have long consciously seen themselves as stewards of human culture and history itself. They saw how they were literal culture warriors in a very real war of extermination on culture itself. In 1994 Michael Pollan wrote an article which first tried to bring this to the mainstream.

 

The alternative seed catalogues paint the “F-1″ hybrid, in particular, as an environmental menace and make a point of refusing to handle the dread seed. In the last few decades F-1 hybrids, which are simply the first generation produced by the crossing of two plant varieties, have become the stock in trade of the commercial seed industry, and they are gradually crowding traditional “open pollinated” varieties (ones pollinated by bees, birds or wind instead of plant geneticists) out of the marketplace. According to the Seed Savers Exchange, an organization established in 1975 to encourage backyard gardeners to preserve certain open-pollinated varieties, almost half of all the nonhybrid vegetable varieties on the market just 10 years ago have been dropped from mail-order catalogues. This often results in extinction, since many domesticated species will not survive unless they are planted over and over again by humans……

These are not the only ways in which modern hybrids remake nature in the image of capitalism. Given heavy doses of fertilizer, F-1 hybrids grow swiftly and produce high yields. They also produce genetically uniform plants. What could better suit factory farming than a robust field of identical tomato or corn plants genetically coded to ripen all at once, thereby facilitating mechanical harvesting?

But the same uniformity that smoothes capitalism’s way into the farm and garden also violates one of nature’s cardinal principles: genetic diversity. A field of genetically identical plants is much more vulnerable to disease, as American corn farmers discovered in 1970 when a blight decimated the nation’s crop, which had grown dependent on a few genetically similar hybrids. After such blights, breeders have historically turned to traditional varieties of corn, found in places like Mexico, to refresh the gene pool and provide new resistance. But what happens when Mexican farmers have been sold on fancy new hybrids and their traditional varieties have become extinct?……

To order Illini Xtra-Sweet would be a vote not just for a particular kind of corn but for a kind of agriculture—indeed, for a kind of culture. You could probably deduce a great deal about contemporary America from the genes of Illini Xtra-Sweet; for example, that this is the product of a capitalist economy whose farms rely on petrochemicals (which most hybrids require to thrive) and are typically located a long truck ride away from their consumers, who prize sweetness over nutrition and tend to boil rather than roast their corn……

Hudson’s catalog is such a vast, teeming democracy of seeds that it makes room for common weeds such as mullein and burdock, four varieties of leaf tobacco (including one grown by Zapotec Indians), even seeds for giant sequoia trees. As one of his cranky, enlightening catalogue essays makes clear, Hudson believes in preserving human as well as genetic diversity—hence the Zapotec tobacco and the Mandan Bride corn, both of whose genes encode specific cultural practices he’s bent on saving. And who knows, one of the old Indian varieties he carries might turn out to contain a trait we will desperately need someday, perhaps the gene that will help us adapt corn to a warmer, drier climate.

 

Unfortunately, Pollan’s warning has not been widely heeded.

 

More recently, we had a stark case study in what happens when corporate globalization is given total power, violent and bureaucratic, to impose exactly what it wants. When the US attacked Iraq, part of its extermination campaign was against all Iraqi culture. As Naomi Klein described in Shock Doctrine and several articles, the goal was to wipe everything clean and impose a blank slate upon which corporate domination could be directly and fully encoded. One example was the assault on seeds and indigenous farming. The seed bank at Abu Ghraib, a priceless repository of thousands of years of Mesopotamian cultivation, knowledge likely to be of critical importance in the age of climate change as more arid conditions expand, was attacked and destroyed by a mob.

 

Iraq’s agriculture was disrupted in general, as always happens in a war. When the farmers tried to rebuild, they were confronted with a typical globalist Catch-22. The same invaders who had destroyed their agricultural heritage now offered them aid in the form of proprietary seeds. At the same moment Paul Bremer, the US equivalent of Hans Frank in the General Government administrative zone of Poland, decreed that all proprietary globalization “law” applied in the case of Iraqi agriculture. This was a direct violation of international law, but we see what kind of law of the jungle really prevails with globalization.

 

Bremer’s Order 81 applied all the strictures of patent domination to the farmers who were at that moment being offered the choice of accepting the proprietary seeds or facing total ruin. (All other aid was conditional on taking the patent deal. It was a textbook example of an unconscionable contract of adhesion, in other words no contract at all according to human law.) This domination includes the truly obscene notion that when through natural inertia, negligence, or deliberate release, the patented seed spreads to the fields of a farmer against his will, he’s declared objectively in violation of the patent and subject to draconian legal penalties. This obscenity has already been enshrined in Canada. So Monsanto’s agent here tried to accomplish directly, by main force, what they’re trying to accomplish more gradually and insidiously everywhere else, including at home in America.

 

How is it possible that if your neighbor is negligent and lets his pollen spread to your field, or if Monsanto deliberately disperses it there, or if the wind simply blows, that you become a status criminal, an IP violator? Why, on the contrary, isn’t Monsanto guilty of a tort against you, by strict liability? The answer is that it would be under any accountable, human rule of law. But the law has abdicated. This is the anti-sovereign corporate law, which is an exact inversion of human law, just as the corporations are existentially anti-human, their very existence an affront to human dignity. They’re literally satanic according to Judeo-Christian theology.

 

What is to be done? Since this post was about seeds, let’s consider what is to be done about seeds. One thing’s clear – we cannot rely on seed vaults like the one in Norway. Even if these weren’t vulnerable to corporate domination, the basic idea is wrongly conceived – one big fort rather than a decentralized dispersal.

 

What do most individual plants do? They don’t hoard their seeds at one spot in the soil. They disperse them a widely as possible by all sorts of vehicles.

 

So the real Seed Banks we need will have to prize resiliency and redundancy over reinforcing one site as a hard target. They must be outside of official control mechanisms. Our seed banks have to be our own stewardship and propagation of our own heirloom seeds. Here’s one innovative idea for a legal framework for the seed commons. It would apply existing cooperative licensing to enshrine a system where anyone can innovate and sell his innovation, but not control the subsequent innovations of the buyer, and so on virally.

 

So it’s a fair dispensation in itself: If you’re truly innovative, you can benefit from your invention, but you can’t clamp a stranglehold on further innovation stemming from your work. Contrast that with IP concept and law: Maybe there was once innovation, but now a few monopoly rackets hoard the patents. They want no further innovation at all, only the strictly controlled “innovation” of their own tyrannical processes.

 

(This P2P concept highlights the essential fraudulence of all IP law applied to plants. The commons licence is correctly based on the fact that you have the right only to your own particular contribution to the collective effort, and only in proportion to it. Anyone who contributes anything to a plant variety is merely adding an increment to thousands of years of work, all of which is in the public domain, not to mention millions of years of nature’s work. So on its face the very concept of a seed patent is absurd, and would clearly be inadmissible under any legitimate rule of law. The very fact that we have to seek legal alternatives like this seed commons license is proof of the corruption and corporatization of the general law.)

 

We have to grow heirloom plants, save and trade heirloom seeds. We have to engage in guerrilla gardening. If we have extra seed we should simply spread it wherever it might grow. Who knows what kind of attics our heritage plants may need as shelter. These are political acts. They’re acts, not just on behalf of food sovereignty and food freedom, but on behalf of freedom itself. 

 

http://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/the-seed-war-part-2/

 

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: