Why Buy Monsanto?

Why Did Bayer Buy Monsanto?

Fully aware of the accusations building up against Monsanto, Bayer, already the biggest pesticide company in the world, upped its bid three times ($US6B) to acquired this the 'most hated company in the world'.

Monsanto was already on the verge of being found guilty of negligence and liable for the cancer linked to its flagship product, the infamous Roundup herbicide. The acquisition seemingly doesn't make sense ...

Bayer just lost a $2 billion lawsuit over claims that the weedkiller Roundup causes cancer. Its stock has been in a free-fall all year, as more bad news about Roundup reaches the public. The company’s stock is now down by more than 44% since the acquisition of Monsanto.
It now faces a shareholder revolt and over 30,000 more lawsuits on similar charges. Just from the marketing perspective RoundUp had already reached saturation in the USofA, and in the EU was facing huge consumer concerns about health and environmental harm. All this was so obviously inevitable that it makes you wonder - What on Earth were they thinking? Their CEO thinks they are onto a winner, but they're not telling anyone why.

Hello Brazil...

Long famous for its Carnaval, coffee and rain-forest destruction, Brazil is also the world's second largest soybean producer, (after USofA). With 98% of the world's soybeans used for livestock feed we're talking about factory-farmed beef in China and the USofA here.

Mre details to come ///

Glyphosate: links in a lot of nasty chains

Once glyphosate is gone from the agricultural landscape (as it must) it is unlikely to be replaced, and a lot of deep changes will have to happen - hopefully for the better.

After 30 years of systematically attempting to dominate the world’s food supply through deceit and tyranny Monsanto, in late 2018, scurried under the skirts of Bayer Crop Science Division. Though it may no longer exist legally its 4000+ lawsuits against RoundUp still do. Although court judgements against Monsanto were once unheard of the August/18 verdict of $78M damages seems to be a signal that that’s about to change.

Monsanto has always been a heavyweight in the game of nasty chemicals, as Bayer still is. It discovered and patented the compound glyphosate, a chemical which causes metabolic disruption in plants, killing them essentially through systemic malnutrition. Because the same metabolic pathway isn’t present in animals glyphosate was eventually cleared by the US EPA to be marketed as a herbicide. Monsanto’s brand-name is Roundup but these days it is sold under licence under various names.

Later, when Monsanto’s gene-scientists learned how to impart glyphosate resistance into plant DNA the RoundUp Ready story was born. The glyphosate-GMO combo went to market in 1996 as a whole new way to further intensify intensive farming. It allowed for bigger acreages with less work and bigger crops: it changed the face of big-scale farming but not for the better. Farmers loved it and Monsanto made dizzying profits. But within a few years cracks began to appear; super-weeds, nutrition, kidney dysfunction ... cancer! Deceit, fake science, intimidation and corruption were used to hide these unwanted side-effects. These issues are set out in an early documentary, see ...The World According to Monsanto (2007).

Those early concerns described in that documentary have since then only magnified, with mounting alarm about the long-term health and environmental issues. ... GLYPHOSATE is presently in the process of being banned in country after country. ... More significantly the GMOs associated with it must also go. At last, it looks like an end for this harmful product is in sight, but ... its unhealthy legacy will likely persist for generations to come, and in some aspect the damage done to the earth's genosphere has been done forever. Part of the legacy that remains with us is a GMO industry that is bent on justifying its own unnecessary existence, by any means possible. At least while there remains that alluring possibility of controlling the world's major seed supplies . (see ... Food Evolution, 2017).

Where to Now From Here

We could look back at the world before Monsanto and try to imagine it now as if their products had never occurred. But industrial-style farming was never sustainable: it always was a major cause of atmospheric change, of massive fertility deficits, of serious biodiversity losses. So instead, we should look back even further, to a time before WWI and WWII decimated rural populations, in order for a real glimpse at sustainable farming and the way food needs to be grown for optimal health.

Those chemical-based technologies that replaced manpower shortages have colonised the farming industry, displacing the accumulated wisdom of traditional land-use experience. But that was only for European cultures. In other parts of the world, amongst traditional peasant cultures, much of land-use wisdom has persisted though under severe threat from enterprise agriculture.

The agrichemical industry is never going to accept that its chemical/GMO tricks against Nature always wear off - evolution always wins. Roundup has lost on the medical front, and has been losing on the farming front for a while, to more toxic (and expensive) 'solutions'. There is a host of them, all headed for a similar failure. The only long-term sustainable solution is in the re-peasantisation of farming, a re-populating of the rural landscape with smaller family farms. That seems a long way off, just for now.

The biotech industry's bid for global domination of the world’s food supply is faltering and a down scaling of farming is inevitable, if not imminent. Already farmers across America are facing a mortgage crisis. Industrial farming sows the seed of its own destruction, with potentially a food system collapse, and massive social and economic disruption.


New Evidence that Glyphosate is a Probable Carcinogen:

Recommended reading...

Sustaining the Bull

Talking up sustainable is very fashionable.
As a buzzword it is easy to slip into any sentence.

... everyone does it and everyone assumes they know what things should be considered as sustainable, and what things should not.

But just ask them to define sustainability, or search it up on the internet, and you'll get all kinds of rhetoric about the environment and how we have to look after it - in the midst of our business (mostly as usual). Appealing as that sounds it is too general and convenient to be useful. In reality the environment will continue anyway, no matter what gets done to it. Suggestions of this kind leave the fox still in charge of the hen-house.
Smarter definitions shift the emphasis to an ecological argument, and there we begin to encounter the conflict between sustainability and economic pursuit. How much disruption is too much? How do we distinguish the disease from its symptoms?

The truth is a battleground of lies:

Nowhere is this more true that than when it comes to the kinds of economic pillage and plundering that relies upon people's ignorance. The larger the pursuit the easier it is to build a buffer of deceit and confusion around it.
Throughout the 60s to 90s the Left counteracted the Right with the story of ‘labour’. It had unions to demand better conditions for the working class. Since then however that particular spring of inspiration has all but dried up and the Right has saturated every corner of the world and our lives with its neoliberal agenda.
To counteract the Right, and it must be counteracted, the Left must now drill a deeper well for its core truth: it must sharpen up and make the story of ‘sustainability’ its own. That story it should be noted, won’t just restrain the Right but by becoming a science it will contain it entirely.

The window of opportunity for doing this is being closed, as fast as people's indifference and confusion permits. Maybe just two generations remain, depending on how fast A-I (artificial intelligence) spreads across the workplace. Eventually UBI[ 2 ] (universal basic income) will be accepted as necessary and thereafter personal financial independence will dwindle, followed by reduced property ownership.
This is not conjecture, it is all set out in the UN's own Agenda 2030 [ 1 } documentation.
What is not specified however is the means to be used for managing the milieu in such a world. Considering the means by which that agenda is being manifested, it would be naive to imagine that it won't continue in much the same manner: media propaganda, violence, oppression, and starvation.

Global vs. local, as a strategy:

The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and the Agenda 2030 strategies, like their parent apparent (the United Nations), are seductive in rhetoric but flawed at the fundamental core of their philosophic/ spiritual conception. The counter-strategy is going to require people to work together in new ways: to form self-organising, cooperative-supporting, agrarian-based local-regional economies founded upon the axioms of true sustainability.

To bring that story to the untroubled masses and help them to make it their own is a difficult task. To advance that process the Landbase Project was conceived.

The Landbase Project:

A rural training centre for running live-in courses based on the observation that a growing number of people are, or would do given the opportunity, moving from the city to a more rural living circumstance.
This project is still in the planning stages. Courses will cover training in the structure of sustainability, involvement in practical aspects of self-provisioning, and access to related resources and support.
To be kept up to date please click ☐ Landbase when registering for our (occasional) newsletter, Landsakes!

Defining sustainability

Sustainability is not a goal in life, it is the form of life itself.

For more in-depth on the background issues, please read our feature article: What is Sustainability?

See also:

  1. Welcome to 2030
  2. What is the Precariat
  3. The Abundance Manifesto
  4. What is Sustainability

Food Waste Reduction

Better Post-harvest Processing

a solution to global hunger?

Though hunger rarely makes the headlines anymore, it is still a burning issue in many countries, with an estimated 821 million undernourished people in the world. For decades, governments and donors have been increasing investment into food production to alleviate the problem. But what if the solution lies elsewhere?

Seven years have passed since FAO estimated that about one third of the food produced worldwide is either lost or wasted. Surprisingly huge amounts of food are lost even in the poorest countries, the very same which have the highest numbers of hungry or malnourished people. Most of these countries are affected by high levels of post-harvest losses caused by inappropriate handling of the produce after harvest.
For example Rwanda: like many other sub-Saharan African countries, agriculture is the leading economic activity in this densely populated nation, with more than 70 per cent of the workforce employed in the agricultural sector. Most of the produce is handled by smallholder farmers in their own homes through rudimentary post-harvest practices, often leading to low quality produce and high post-harvest losses.

Climate change is a big part of the problem. Due to shifting climatic patterns, maize harvesting currently happens during the peak of the rainy season. Most farmers do not have access to adequate drying facilities and cannot dry their produce to acceptable moisture levels before storing it, leading to pest infestation, mold and contamination. The result: large quantities of their maize is either inedible or unsalable.

The problem is a real one and there is data to prove it. According to the Africa Post-Harvest Loss Information System (APHLIS), the leading source on post-harvest wastage in Africa, losses in the Rwanda maize supply chain could be as high as 22 per cent. The figure is also alarmingly high for other crops in other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with an average grain loss estimated at 13.5 per cent continent-wide.

Reducing such losses could constitute a more cost-effective answer to hunger than increasing productivity. If the figures published in a 2011 World Bank report paint an accurate portrait, eliminating grain losses in sub-Saharan Africa alone could provide the annual calorie requirement for around 48 million people. And this increase would not be detrimental to the environment, as it would require no extra resources (water, land and energy) to grow the food that would otherwise go wasted.

The problem is that it is difficult to isolate post-harvest losses from the issue of rural underdevelopment in general. That is because they are largely due to the lack of infrastructure and appropriate equipment that affects many developing economies. What is really needed is a complete overhaul of the rural sector and its value chains, and one that leaves no loss behind.

A growing number of projects supported by IFAD follow a holistic approach that aims to improve the overall efficiency of the value chain by upgrading the capacities of all actors involved. An internal desk review found that between 2013 and 2016 IFAD earmarked about US$433 million to post-harvest operations through such projects. The infrastructure, equipment and capacity developed thanks to this investment is essential to enable producers to reduce their losses.

More focused interventions may still be needed to reduce losses at critical loss points, as we've done for example in East Timor by subsidizing 42,000 improved storage drums for household storage. Yet the comprehensive and durable development many of our projects have brought to rural communities is arguably more effective than piecemeal interventions, which may have a more immediate and measurable impact, but a more uncertain future.
Source: https://www.ifad.org/web/latest/blog/asset/40810706

Reducing food losses is just as important as improving yields, especially in the context of shifting climatic conditions. But the most effective way to stop the loss is to take a holistic approach that carefully integrates post-harvest loss reduction into every step of the targeted supply chains, from production to retail. If adequately funded and implemented, this approach could be the key to building more sustainable food systems, ensuring that everyone is adequately fed while our environment is protected.

Sign for Climate Justice

From the Action Network ...


December (2018) government delegates from around the world will meet to decide how to implement the UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The meeting’s outcomes will affect billions of people.

The New Standard for Human Rights

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants

(25.10.18): The UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People working in Rural Areas was presented in the UN headquarters to the 'Third Committee of the General Assembly'. This comes after nearly two decades of consultations and negotiations led by millions of peasants, pastoralists, artisanal fisher folk, agricultural workers and indigenous peoples’ organisations ... and with the support of CETIM and FIAN International.

UPDATE: (19.11.18)

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of the UN General Assembly has voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, through the Resolution no. A/C.3/73/L.30 - [119 for :: 7 against]


The Declaration, now finally ratification, supports the development and implementation of socioeconomic policies that improve our food and agriculture system. It will also pave the way for the creation of public policies in favour of peasants and rural workers in countries where such policies do not exist.

The vast majority of the world's citizens support the Declaration. The European Economic and Social Committee has shown its support, and the European Parliament voted a resolution asking EU states to back the project. On 2nd October in France, the National Advisory Committee on Human Rights urged the French government, in an advisory opinion, to back the text. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has also expressed its support to the Declaration and so has the former rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter as well as his successor, Hilal Elver.

It is estimated that of out of 820 million people suffering from hunger (2018 UN figure), 80% live in rural areas. These people are particularly vulnerable and discriminated against,. They suffer forced expulsions and lack access to essential resources: land, seeds, loans, education, justice and basic services. Yet, on average, small food producers contribute 70% of the world’s food, with this figure rising to more than 80% in so-called developing countries.

Source: Time to Mobilise   #peasantsrightsnow

The current draft of the declaration was finalised in April 2018. A process that began over 10 years ago. Thereafter, the text was tabled for final voting and adoption at the UN General Assembly in September 2018. Ratification is expected by mid next year.


- - -
New Zealand didn't bother turning up for this one.

16th October, 2018

International Day of Action for the Food Sovereignty of Peoples and Against Multinationals

Peasants' seeds are a heritage of peoples in the service of humanity. They are the basis of global food production and they enable peasants to produce and a healthy and diversified food supply.

The world's seeds are threatened by the seed policies of rich countries, free trade agreements and agribusiness. Under the pretext of "improving" seed productivity, agribusiness has created a neo-liberal seed system that has homogenised, impoverished and monopolised seeds, causing the loss of three-quarters of seed diversity and annihilating a diversity that it took people – thanks to the work of peasants – 10000 years to generate.
Three companies, Monsanto-Bayer, Syngenta-ChemChina and Dupont-Dow, control more than 50% of the world's commercial seeds – usually GM seeds claimed to resist herbicides and deter insects. Under the impetus of the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF, and through free trade agreements and laws protecting seed and breeders' rights, such as UPOV standards, this seed system only allows the circulation of its own seeds, criminalising the saving, exchange, donation and sale of local farmer seeds.

The situation is such that farmers have lost a lot of their heritage seeds, are put in prison for the defense and exchange of their seed heritage, and risk raids and seizure of their seeds. Biodiversity is destroyed by the use of chemical fertilisers, hybrid seeds and genetically modified organisms developed by multinational companies. \Everywhere citizens have difficulty accessing healthy, diversified and healthy food.

All over the world, La Via Campesina and its member organisations are stepping up their efforts in training, education, mutual support and seed exchange. We fight for national laws and international treaties to guarantee the rights of farmers to save, use, exchange, sell and protect their seeds against biopiracy and genetic contamination, we write books on the history of seeds, carry out studies and mapping. We also found agro-ecology schools and organize peasant' seed exchange fairs. We exercise our right of self-determination to select the seed varieties we want to plant and reject economically, ecologically and culturally dangerous varieties. These are rights affirmed by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and by the United Nations Declaration on Peasants' Rights which has just been adopted by the Human Rights Council in Geneva. It is also the only way to ensure healthy food for citizens, the preservation of biodiversity and the achievement of food sovereignty.

No government measure can limit the collective rights of farmers to use, exchange and sell their OWN seeds.
Free seed exchange between farmers should NOT be subject to restriction.

“Adopt a Seed”

We call on every peasant, peasant family or community to engage in the adoption of a variety of plant or animal seeds, to become the guardian of this seed, ensuring its propagation, reproduction and distribution and to engage in the collective defense of their rights to use, exchange, sell and protect them. In this way, we will create a large network of peasant seeds to save those that have become rare and extend production towards the food sovereignty of peoples.
By adopting a seed, peasant families preserve their identity and territory and affirm their peasant way of life. They claim the historical memory and ancestral culture of seed management, promoting an urban and rural ecological agriculture that reproduces the miracle of more seeds and food of better quality, taste and nutritional value.

Global Food Movement Rejects 'Gene drive' Technology

World Food Day (Oct/18) ...

Over 200 global food movement leaders and organisations representing hundreds of millions of farmers and food workers set out their clear opposition to “gene drives” – a controversial new genetic forcing technology.

Their call for a stop to this technology accompanies a new report, Forcing the Farm: How Gene Drive Organisms Could Entrench Industrial Agriculture and Threaten Food Sovereignty, that lifts the lid on how gene drives may harm food and farming systems.

Unlike previous genetically modified organisms (GMOs) these gene drive organisms (GDOs) are deliberately designed to spread genetic pollution as an agricultural strategy – for example, spreading "auto-extinction" genes to wipe out agricultural pests. Agri-research bodies now developing these extinction-organisms include the California Cherry Board, the US Citrus Research Board and the private California company Agragene Inc. Next month, the United Nations Biodiversity Convention will meet to discuss measures to control this technology, including a possible moratorium.

Those launching the call for a moratorium on gene drives in food and agriculture include all past and present UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food; the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements; IUF (the International Union representing Food and Farmworkers); La Via Campesina, the largest network of peasant movements representing 200 million peasants in 81 countries; and GMWatch. Signatories also include well-known commentators on food matters including seed activist Vandana Shiva, World Food Prize winner Dr Hans Herren, International President of Friends of the Earth International Karin Nansen, activist and food entrepreneur Nell Newman, and environmentalist and geneticist David Suzuki.

Applying gene drives to food systems threatens to harm farmers’ rights and the rights of peasants as enshrined in international treaties,” said Dr Olivier De Schutter, who served as the UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food from 2008-2014. “Gene drives would undermine the realisation of human rights including the right to healthy, ecologically-produced and culturally appropriate food and nutrition

Land Rights Regulations

Land Deals

Indigenous land rights are increasingly under threat

The soaring demand for food, fuel and other commodities is cranking up pressure on land, but the sector remains largely unregulated internationally.

Increasingly, secret deals are struck between governments and investors, and communities robbed of land that’s rightfully theirs.

Imagine waking up one day to be told that the land that your family has lived on for generations has been leased to developers. You have to be out by the time the bulldozers arrive next week. You can’t see the documents behind the deal, and you won’t be getting compensation. And if you don’t go quietly, soldiers will make you wish you had.

This type of “land grab” is happening more and more often across the developing world, as investors scramble to acquire cheap land for everything from food to biofuel plantations to mining. As much as 54 million hectares has already changed hands in land deals over the last decade, or is under negotiation. And this figure is set to grow as population growth, consumption and financial speculation drive demand upwards.

With strong rules to protect communities and environment, these investments could stimulate development in some of the poorest parts of the world. But the market is moving much faster than regulators can, leaving behind a murky trade controlled by powerful and often corrupt elites.

Land deals are often done in secret, without consulting those most affected. Environmental damage and human rights are paid lip service at best, and more often completely ignored. Communities can’t find out who has been given their land or see the contracts, so they don’t know what it is worth or who to blame for taking it.

Global Witness is investigating the impact of large-scale land concessions on rural communities and the environment, and is pushing for solutions to fix the system at the national and international levels. Our Dealing with Disclosure report, for example, sets out practical steps for governments and companies to make land deals fair and open. We also work with rural communities in a number of countries to help stand up for and strengthen their rights to their land.

Land grabs are closer than you think. Holes in international law mean we have very little way of ensuring that our supply chains and savings don’t link us to land that has been illegally or violently taken.

Source: Global Witness campaign (May, 2018)
Report: Dealing with Disclosure – setting out in detail what governments, companies and citizens can do to ensure against the negative impacts of secretive land deals.

And how to reduce your profile

Nearly everything we do online leaves a trail of data

Like many people who have taken a sudden interest in their digital privacy, you may be quite startled by what they know about you.

Google

Let's start by listing all the Alphabet-owned services you might use: Google Docs, YouTube, Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Photos, Contacts, Translate, Chrome, Maps, Wallet, and, of course, the Google  search-engine.

Depending on your settings a visit to myactivity.google.com can bring the company’s background tracking into the foreground: every search query you've ever run, most of the websites you've visited, and almost every literal step you've taken.

Also do the Google Privacy Checkup to view (and change) your default settings for logging and sharing. For example: “Let people with your phone number find and connect with you on Google services, such as video chats.” Having my phone number means you get to interrupt me with your face whenever you want: disable.

YouTube is default set to automatically show videos you have liked and channels I subscribed to: disable. Google is default set to share your photos and likes and restaurant reviews: disable.

There is also a section for advertising settings, the list of topics Google thinks you're interested in— there’s no way for me to know why Google thinks what it thinks. Then, what about information-sharing with the “2 million websites and apps that partner with Google to show ads.”

To its credit, Google offers a centralised and relatively user-friendly page to view and control your account. The breadth of the data collection is unnerving, whatever the control you may have over it.

That was a practice-run: now it's time to get heavy ...

Facebook

Thanks to a Google Chrome browser extension called What Facebook Thinks You Like you can decide whether to Obscure the Real Me with misleading signals. Like Google, Facebook has a settings page from where you can view and adjust your security and privacy settings. Also look at the “Apps and Websites” and “Ads” settings, which are not listed in a way that suggests they are related to security and privacy, even though they obviously are.

You may want to go through all the apps you have authorised for Facebook to give your events, uploaded or tagged in photos, religious and political views, hometown, current city, videos, website URL, and the content and member list of the Facebook groups you manage, and your relationship status -- and  removed the hundreds of them that have accrued there.

Facebook files patent to force your phone to record your private life at home.

You may want to download your data from an easy-to-miss link on the settings page [ here];

  • delete your search history;
  • turn the sharing defaults from “public” to “friends” or “just me” on just about everything;
  • and all the contact details for the people you have unwittingly uploaded [ here ].

Knowing all this, it’s hard to take seriously the man who in March 2018 testified before the U.S. Congress and then posted this on, yes, Facebook: “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you.”

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