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Looking for articles on GM foods

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Yorkie Bar
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Jun 1 2011 10:40
Looking for articles on GM foods

So it's not often that I come on hear asking for help with my homework, but I'm doing a presentation on the pros and cons of GM in agriculture and was wondering if there were any decent books/essays/articles/pamphlets/etc. looking at this topic an anarcho/libertarian/lefty perspective. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

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ludd
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Jun 1 2011 20:49

Dunno if you've seen it already, but "Synthesis and Regeneration" has a ton of stuff about this: http://www.greens.org/s-r/

Samotnaf
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Jun 2 2011 01:40

double post, corrected in the next one.

Samotnaf
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Jun 2 2011 01:39
Quote:
I'm doing a presentation on the pros and cons of GM in agriculture

Why not do a presentation on the pros and cons of nuclear warfare?

The pros: Monsanto's bosses are slightly less happy in the last quarter of 2010 than they were before (fourth-quarter revenue for 2010 fell 8.4 percent to $1.88 billion because of lower herbicide sales, trailing the $1.99 billion average estimate of six analysts in the survey).

The cons: it's all a con, and anyone who doesn't agree is a con .

Without knowing precisely by what you mean by "homework" ( a presentation for a course in Gmology?), here's a reference to GMOs in my blog "Suicide or Revolution":

Quote:
scientific workers identify with their alienated labour far more so than, say, building workers or cleaners. This labour often involves horrendous professional shit with far more horrific consequences than most of the more obviously proletarianised salaried labour (e.g. GMOs) .... Though we don't know if GMO researchers have non-genetically modified their wrists or throats, we don't give a toss if such obviously compromised cadres commit suicide or not. Many of them have a position in the hierarchical division of labour that involves thinking up and acting out ways of shitting on those below them in the hierarchy, all the worse when it's done, like the madness of research and development of GMOs, in the name of benevolently feeding the starving: a kind of Christian Science missionary position that fucks those it claims to be liberating (GMOs destroy biodiversity, weaken the immune system, encourage the proliferation of carcenogenic pesticides and reduce human fertility). No leftist humanist concern for the plight of some of these cadres can hide the brutality of the function and result of their lucrative work.

Plus there's a debate about GMOs here. See, particularly, posts 17 and onwards
. There's also a moving, even if left-liberal, film - "The World According to Monsanto".

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RedEd
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Jun 2 2011 19:56

The position that commercial GM research under capitalism is (usually/always?) pretty shit is one I expect most people here would agree with. But is the claim broader, i.e. GM research is shit under all possible circumstances?

Samotnaf
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Jun 3 2011 01:28

"all possible circumstances" is pretty extensive: personally i wouldn't be against doing research into them on the planet Pluto.

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Tojiah
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Jun 3 2011 01:48

Generally it sounds more efficient than spending decades, sometimes generations breeding and mixing species to get improved yields or other benefits.

Samotnaf
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Jun 3 2011 02:00
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it sounds more efficient than spending decades, sometimes generations breeding and mixing species to get improved yields or other benefits

Sure, specially if it destroys biodiversity, weakens the immune system, encourages the proliferation of carcenogenic pesticides and reduces human fertility; maybe, in the interests of speed, we should genetically modify women so they give birth after 9 days - reduces all that stressful morning sickness etc. The despotism of speed.

When I hear the word "efficient" I wonder "for whom"?

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Jun 3 2011 02:17

I'm sorry, I don't know how to respond to accusations that are specific to how GM is used under capitalism. Roundup+Roundup resistant genes are a clear product of the profit motive.

Samotnaf wrote:
When I hear the word "efficient" I wonder "for whom"?

For people who want to spend as little time as possible producing food for the world's 10-billion strong population (which we can hope won't simply disappear ATR), and as much time doing more enjoyable things. Or is permaculture your absolute vision for ATR?

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waslax
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Jun 3 2011 02:31
RedEd wrote:
The position that commercial GM research under capitalism is (usually/always?) pretty shit is one I expect most people here would agree with. But is the claim broader, i.e. GM research is shit under all possible circumstances?

Surely the burden of proof (or preponderance of evidence or ...) is on those who want to defend that there are circumstances under which it would be acceptable (or 'not shit')? And isn't it in the nature of this sort of research that we will need to wait and see what the long-term consequences of it are -- since it is a relatively recent phenomenon?

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Tojiah
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Jun 3 2011 02:51
waslax wrote:
RedEd wrote:
The position that commercial GM research under capitalism is (usually/always?) pretty shit is one I expect most people here would agree with. But is the claim broader, i.e. GM research is shit under all possible circumstances?

Surely the burden of proof (or preponderance of evidence or ...) is on those who want to defend that there are circumstances under which it would be acceptable (or 'not shit')? And isn't it in the nature of this sort of research that we will need to wait and see what the long-term consequences of it are -- since it is a relatively recent phenomenon?

Is there going to be no genetic research in agriculture ATR?

Samotnaf
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Jun 3 2011 03:41
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is permaculture your absolute vision for ATR?

There is no absolute AfterTheRevolution, but to use the term "genetic research" separate from its capitalist connotations is like using "the State" separate from its capitalist and/ or pre-capitalist connotations.
Obviously research in all aspects of life will be accelerated in the mythical land ATR, but genetic research can also take place within permaculture and all other forms of pre-agrobusiness forms of agriculture. Just it's a form of research whose long-term and planet-wide effects can be controlled and determined at a pace necessary for safety. More haste less speed (unless you think foreplay is a waste of time and you're in favour of premature ejaculation).

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Tojiah
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Jun 3 2011 03:49
Samotnaf wrote:
Quote:
is permaculture your absolute vision for ATR?

There is no absolute AfterTheRevolution, but to use the term "genetic research" separate from its capitalist connotations is like using "the State" separate from its capitalist and/ or pre-capitalist connotations.
Obviously research in all aspects of life will be accelerated in the mythical land ATR, but genetic research can also take place within permaculture and all other forms of pre-agrobusiness forms of agriculture. Just it's a form of research whose long-term and planet-wide effects can be controlled and determined at a pace necessary for safety. More haste less speed (unless you think foreplay is a waste of time and you're in favour of premature ejaculation).

Could you possibly stop those annoying angry quips directed at people who aren't me? The specific issues with GM foods are mostly issues that have come up in various other ways long before people even knew how DNA works: monoculture caused the Potato Famine, absence of biological quarantine protocols caused the destructions of entire ecosystems due to the uncontrolled introduction of hostile and proliferating species, etc. You don't need GM to fuck things up in these ways. So yes, agriculture and general treatment of the biosphere has to be done a lot more carefully, but I don't see a reason to single out the applications of genetic research to agriculture, which is ultimately what GM is.

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waslax
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Jun 3 2011 04:04
Tojiah wrote:
Is there going to be no genetic research in agriculture ATR?

I wouldn't say that. How can I seriously say that? You know that, of course. It will be decided collectively, after considerable discussion, and depending in part on what occurs between now and then. As Sam said, if safety can be assured in such research, then there shouldn't be any problem with it. But people will need to be convinced that it is safe first.

Samotnaf
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Jun 3 2011 04:15
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I don't see a reason to single out the applications of genetic research to agriculture, which is ultimately what GM is.

Not quite clear about what you mean here. I didn't "single out the applications of genetic research to agriculture"; I said:

Quote:
research in all aspects of life will be accelerated in the mythical land ATR, but genetic research can also take place within permaculture and all other forms of pre-agrobusiness forms of agriculture.

afaik, there has always been some element of genetic research in agriculture if by "research" you mean "trial, error and the correction of errors", though it hasn't always been done in an scientific way that is complicit with the intensification of commodification. Besides, the essential problem of feeding the world's population ( not yet 10 billion by any means, by the way) has been the incredible waste of resources and human energy under the modern conditions of production, the immense accumulation of commodities and spectacles, which you probably are fully aware of. Which is certainly not to say you're not completely correct about monoculture and the absence of biological quarantine protocols.

But all this ATR stuff is useless hypothesis: it's in the real movement to abolish the existing order of things, including ecological research done in a non-commodity-oriented manner, and including the practical opposition to GM research as something very clearly oriented towards intensified capital accumulation, that the essential research for ATR is being developed.

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Tojiah
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Jun 3 2011 04:19

I really don't understand your position, then. Do you think we should be pushing for the destruction of genetic research until such time as the revolution occurs? Do you think we should for some reason focus on opposing the application of genetic as opposed to other research to agriculture?

Samotnaf
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Jun 3 2011 05:33
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Do you think we should be pushing for the destruction of genetic research until such time as the revolution occurs?

Yes (in fact, "we" don't need to "push for" it as people have doing this since the late 90s, firstly in India and then in Holland, then more famously in France).

Quote:
Do you think we should for some reason focus on opposing the application of genetic as opposed to other research to agriculture?

Don't really know anything about other commodified forms of research into agriculture, though I know a lot of independent ecological research is being recuperated by various capitalist enterprises.

The following liberal forms of opposition to GMOs show some of their disastrous effects :

http://gefreebc.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/what-you-dont-know-about-gmo-wont-hurt-you/

http://www.responsibletechnology.org/utility/showArticle/?objectID=2989

http://reason.com/blog/2009/08/12/update-on-greenpeace-claim-tha

satawal
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Jun 4 2011 01:11

Though they are 10 years old or so Do or Die did have some stuff on this. Most was action report style stuff but one article (‘The New Luddite War’) did concentrate on the problems of GM if it ‘goes right’ (i.e. further concentration of power) rather than if it ‘goes wrong’ (i.e. health etc). The article was coming from an ecological and class struggle anarchist perspective – though arguably verging on semi-Maoist positions… Either way they are worth a read, and you can go to the Do or Die archive (http://www.eco-action.org/dod/) and there is a GM subsection at the bottom of the front page with the following contents:

Genetic Engineering/Agriculture
• Reaping the Whirlwind: Genetics Action Round-up (Issue 10, 2003)
• Bashing the GE-nie Back in the Bottle: Borders No Barrier to Sabotage (Issue 9, 2001)
• The New Luddite War: We Will Destroy Genetic Engineering! (Issue 8, 1999)
• Farmageddon! Confronting Industrial Agriculture (Issue 7, 1998)
• Mutant Red Herrings? Why Labelling of Genetically Modified Food is Pointless (Issue 6, 1997)
• Anti-Genetics Action: Crop Circle Chaos and Vegetable Vandalism (Issue 6, 1997)
• Howzat! Mutant Potatoes All Out in First UK Field Action (Issue 6, 1997)
• Attacks on Bio-Technology in the Netherlands (Issue 1, 1992)

Beyond that I would look at stuff by Vandana Shiva (no anarchist, but you did also say you were interested in leftist stuff) specifically:

• Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply
• The Violence of the Green Revolution: Third World Agriculture, Ecology and Politics: Ecological Degradation and Political Conflict
• Biopolitics: A Feminist and Ecological Reader on Biotechnology

Also in a similar vain ( and on zine library - http://zinelibrary.info/colonizing-seed ) is:

• Genetic Engineering and Techno-Industrial Agriculture By Gyorgy Scrinis

If you can read French ex Situationist and thoroughly nice chap Rene Risel has written allot about GM from an interesting communist perspective. Even if you can’t read French there may be translations and you can check out an interview with him at: http://www.notbored.org/riesel-interview.html

Finally the Filipino anarchist scene has had considerable involvement in these struggles which a bit of searching should come up with.

Hope that helps

Yorkie Bar
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Jun 8 2011 20:04

Thanks for the links folks, will give them a read.

Yorkie Bar
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Jun 8 2011 21:52
Samotnaf wrote:
Don't really know anything about other commodified forms of research into agriculture, though I know a lot of independent ecological research is being recuperated by various capitalist enterprises.

Just to pick up on this, have you read The Dialectical Biologist by Richard Levins and Richard Lewontin? There's a few really good essays on agricultural research in there; particularly The Political Economy of Agricultural Research. One example they go into at length is hybrid corn; corn plants that have an increased yield but don't pass this trait on reliably to their offspring (so farmers have to go back and buy more seed each time, rather than just replanting the seed from the previous generation).

If you can get a copy of the book I'd highly recommend it. There's a bit of a dodgy third-worldist streak running through it, but a lot of the analysis is pretty thought provoking.

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Red Marriott
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Jun 8 2011 22:36
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hybrid corn plants that have an increased yield but don't pass this trait on reliably to their offspring (so farmers have to go back and buy more seed each time, rather than just replanting the seed from the previous generation).

Commented on here (in 'land & liberty' section); http://libcom.org/news/a-world-food-crisis-empty-rice-bowls-fat-rats-16042008

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Steven.
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Jun 9 2011 18:35

Just posted up this article from 1999. The conclusions aren't good, but the rest of the article seems okay:
http://libcom.org/library/food-glorious-food-communist-perspectives-nature-humanity-1