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GMO's & High-Tech Feudalism

category national | anti-capitalism | opinion/analysis author Monday September 24, 2007 22:23author by Oisín Ó Conail - Irish Farmers' Association Report this post to the editors

It's not just the health issues - it's the political-economy

Much of debate about Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMO's) focuses on arguing about possible health issues; but are there other problems associated with patenting food-supplies, such as political and economic control?

As an Irish farmer (and member of the IFA), I would like to strongly encourage readers to continue to act against GMO's becoming State-sanctioned here.

This is not simply about possible health effects down the road; the entire patenting system in this area is becoming little more than a form of transnational protectionism in favour of corporate, oligopolistic cartels.

I am not against technology, nor against entrepreneurs or companies reaping a reward for introducing worthwhile innovations. However, as both a farmer and a businessman, I severely question the motives, methods and results of current "innovation" by biotech and agribusiness companies. These seem to have more to do with "locking in" agricultural producers (e.g. farmers) into what economists would call "path dependency" - a production system determined by previous choices; in this case, by choices of seed, chemical supplies and physical and financial capital investment (often promoted forcefully by State and institutional actors). And these choices are becoming increasingly rigged; for example, we are not even allowed to save seed - even if the variety is a common heritage belonging to no one!

This has less to do with offering choice, and more to do with making it difficult for producers to operate outside of the increasingly vertically-integrated corporate giants of food production world-wide. And I am not against "bigness" in itself; but the term "economies of scale" has become a cliché - it is not an iron law, only a variable tendency; if "bigness" is effectively subsidised by Single-Farm payments that are almost entirely passed-on to pay for patented, licensed and path-dependent (or petroleum-based) inputs, it is more likely that we are witnessing state-protected diseconomies of scale. This is not even counting socially- (i.e. tax-) funded transportation infrastructure such as motorways which enable lower average costs for "scaled up" distribution networks.

But if corporate giants are operating in a fixed market (e.g. no competing traditional varieties of seed allowed to be saved and sold), and legally empowered to bully and threaten anyone whose seed stock is invaded - even by natural processes! - by patented genetic material, this cannot be regarded as an open market; this instead is arguably just high-tech feudalism.

Aside from health issues, aside from political economy: at a time of ballooning debt, climate change, and at the mid-point of global oil production, is this really wise? To effectively promote decreasing diversity in food production techniques, against long-established and sturdy strains, and in favour of high-bred and engineered varieties that cannot survive in the wild without intense inputs of cartelised seed, petrochemicals, and borrowed capital?

Related Link: http://www.mutualist.org/id4.html
author by wageslavepublication date Tue Sep 25, 2007 01:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

not to mention the dangers of superweeds, corporate patents on crops and the loss of potentially lucrative organic food markets. When the building sector finally ceases to create employment and we realise that our manufacturing sector is fucked and all our natural resources have been given away, what else will ireland have to offer except good organic food. But they even want to screw that up on us too. What total idiots we have running this country.

Some links on the subject

GM 101

Hats off to michael. He does great work in the battle against GM

Grain is worth a visit. This page gives you an idea what these bastards are up to

forcing GM on the vulnerable in the third world. despicable.

independent scientists talk about GM

counterpunch has some good articles on GM (do a search on the site)

George monbiot does some good articles on GM as well as his global warming stuff for the guardian. Worth a browse

for the technically minded. The independent report that really annoyed the GM pushers

The other side. You really really cant trust IBEC.at all. They'd sell us all out in a heartbeat iif they made money out of it. And these guys always have the taoiseachs ear! Scary.

Depressing and somewhat unrelated but worth a read

author by jm - butt-surfers of the groovy eschatonpublication date Wed Sep 26, 2007 15:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Oisín -
Is it that saving seed is illegal??
How on earth could this be?

author by wageslavepublication date Thu Sep 27, 2007 02:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

its that

(a)the big corporations are buying up all the seed companies and promoting a monoculture rather than encouraging biodiversity.

(b) if pollen from a GM plant pollinates your related crop, then you are technically in breach of their patent. Your subsequent seeds are in breach too. They have already won courtcases on this point. GM is about controlling the food chain, not doing good for humanity. The pollen from GM rapeseed can pollinate any other members of that plant family (brachia) such as broccoli or cauliflower.
IMHO One of the reasons they chose rapeseed to genetically engineer is because people are more likely to grow a gm plant for its biofuel than to eat but once it is widespread it irreversibly contaminates the whole brachia family. they are clever and playing a long game

(c) initially they undercut normal seed prices to push people out of the seed business and build dependency. They also "accidentally" release pollen from their varieties.

Note recent docking of a ship containing live GM seed with the wrong documents in dublin.

Also, note how the database containing the tracking info on such shipments "mysteriously " disappeared due to a computer crash.(nobody ever heard of backups of course!)

Note also an ex science adviser who was in the pocket of Gm companies who never lost his job (just got shuffled somewhere else) when it was revealed that he got his degree from a fake university over the internet.

And you can be sure food labelling laws will not be strengthened much in this country either.

around 90% of the respondents to a recent survey on GM foods expressed reservations yet the conclusion of the report seemed to blatantly ignore this and read like something from a GM brochure

In spite of this widespread opposition to GM, our elected representatives consistently abstain from votes on the topic of GM in europe.

Personally I smell a rat over all this

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