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Ugh! Frankenfoods Again?


They’re baaaack!

Yep – another post on Frankenfoods – the miserable mutant offspring of ancient crops…and the white-coat rapists from Biotech who jam alien species’ DNA into the germplasm of our familiar staples.

Reagan/Bush and Grover’s Club For Greed paved the way – or more accurately, pulverised the institutions – by destroying the Federal research funding which ensured America’s basic science led the world in our species own ancient effort to better know ourselves and our living world. Slashing the constant funding stream for basic science, the Gipper, the Spook, and the Grover impoverished US basic science to the point that they could force "Shock Doctrine" revolutions through America’s basic science insitutions – and culture.

Now every good revolution needs a symbolic (and sometimes actual) rallying point. India had Gandhi.

What do I think of Western Civilization?

It would be a very good idea.

Poland had Lech Walensa. South Africa had Mandela. El Salvador had Archbishop Romero – well, until our client-rulers assasinated him as he clebrated Mass. We Americans’ had G. Washington: despite his real shortcomings, he had the foresight to foster a Republic, not a monarchy (pardon me if I’m letting him off easy – residual maternal pride…I’m descended from his mom, Mary Ball). Czechoslovakia had Vaclav Havel. Cuba had Fidel and Che. Feudal Mexico in the early 20th Century had Zapata. Feudal Mexico in the late 20th Century had has Subcommandante Marcos and the Zapatistas – stay tuned for freedom coming to a nation very near U…(S).

And the brave bloated warriors of Monsanto – those tireless voices of the vat – who was their hero in their fight against 2,500 years of empirical observation? Who came forward to defend them in their hour of need decades of greed? Who was their Lysenko for the 21st Century?

Why none other than that noted naturale philosophere – Dane Quayle.

Yep – the guy who couldn’t figure out how to spell "potato" is the intellectual father night-soil carrier of the steaming pile of ideology that permits BigTestTube to give the BigLie that mutant foods are safe. Without even having to go to the bother of testing them.

Of course, even here Quayle is unremarkable – just one in a series of Presidents and Veeps who chose to turn America’s post-WWII Federal health and safety shields into spittoons for the megacorps and the corporatist saboteurs they employ.

Before the Orange County frat boys who later decomposed into the Young Rethuglicans selected him as their instrument, Reagan had already shown his hatred of the factual world as CA Governor, when he tried to punish the University of California for – perish the thought – actually conducting research, rather than supporting Rethug/corporatist propagnda. Reagan – the perfect tool for corporatists who never met an inconvenient fact they couldn’t try to belittle or ignore – was a natural enemy of empirical data and public research.

Reagan’s Revolution against empricism spawned the "White House Council on Competetiveness" – a new venue for the old Rethug trick of evading duly enacted Federal Law by creating Executive Branch abattoirs in which hard-fought Congressional victories against the corporatists could be hoisted up by one hoof and have their throats slit – all out of public view.

And you thought making laws was ugly?

So what does this have to with Naturale Philosophere Quayle? Simple – as the designated figurehead under Bush the Elder, Daneeee sat atop the WHCC. By Royal Executive Branch Decree, the vapid Veep simply declared Frankenmutants to be the same as the rest of us.

So by Executive decree, that GMO corn with alien genes with alien genes from other critters is the same as natural corn with only corn for parents.

This is the biological equivalent of declaring humans assimilated into the Borg to be equivalent to all humans.

Quayle’s decree of equivalence also flew in the face of the Supremes’ ruling that GMO organisms were so distinct form natural lifeforms as to be patentable. As both the Supremes’ ruling and Quayle’s decree suited Big Test Tube just fiine, however, industry was happy. And therefore so were the Reaganites.

Clinton came along and abolished the WHCC, but otherwise fellated Big Test Tube and the Lords of Frankenfood. Bush the Insane simply bent what remained of America’s regulators over for the exclusive enjoyment of the GMO pimps industry.

So WTF does this have to with potatoes?

Well, the Decree of Equivalence – like the Trade Tyranny rules known as WTO and NAFTA – is simply a concept created by the megacorps to enable the biggest industries on the planet to do whatever the fuck they please.

In Europe, public hatred of GMO’s is so strong that simply labelling foods as containing GMO’s is the kiss of marketing death. Knowing this, the Lords of the Vats have rigged the EU’s decsion making-process so that a inconclusive vote among Agriculture Ministers allows GMO mutants to go forward for approval.

EU law provides for rubberstamp GMO authorizations when ministers are unable to agree after a certain time. Since 2004, the Commission has authorized a string of GMOs — nearly all maize types — in this way, outraging green groups.

And last week BASF’s mutant potatoe got the inconclusive vote require to punt the question of allowing the Frankenspud to be dug up and interred at the EU’s Executive – the European Commission. Just as in the US, the Executive branch of the EU was the corporatists’ first target for sabotaging democracy. And, just like in the US, the corporatists have succeeded:

Officials at the European Commission, the EU executive, already have deemed the potato safe. These officials want to introduce more gene-altered products into the EU to normalize trade relations with countries like the United States, and to lower costs for farmers.

But many governments in Europe are extremely wary of continuing distrust among those citizens who consider gene-altered products to be "Frankenstein" foods. Experts say that some countries may even be hardening their longstanding opposition to the technology.

Who cares?

Well, right now BASF claims the mutant spuds will just be used in industry – and hence won’t enter the food supply. That is, as long as we don’t consider cattle and other critters food: BASF also seeks approval to use the Frankenspud in animal food.

So what?

Well, to make the Frankenspud, BASF included a few genes that tell bacteris how to destroy a couple of antibiotics. BASF says the antibiotics don’t matter- I guess that’s the European version of "Old Science". Europeans disagree:

The potato contains an antibiotic resistance marker gene (ARMG)(1) known as nptII, which conveys resistance to antibiotics and which should already have been phased out under EU law since 2004(2). Despite this and despite a number of legal concerns, the European Food Safety Authority gave a positive opinion on the BASF potato, paving the way for Monday’s vote.

“This potato is blighted by too many inconsistencies for the Council to legally approve it. The EFSA opinion upon which the Commission proposal is based contradicts the scientific opinions of other international institutions and also EFSA’s own previous opinions on the same issue. Therefore, the Commission proposal is unlawful,” said Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU GMO policy director.

Both the WHO and the European Medicine’s Agency (EMEA) contradicted EFSA’s decision and found that the families of antibiotics affected by the potato gene (kanamycin and neomycin) are “critically important”(3) for veterinary and human use and “cannot be classified as of no or only minor therapeutic relevance”.(4) EFSA subsequently recognised that the BASF potato ARMG confers resistance to antibiotics of critical importance but failed to modify its position. Crucially, an EFSA opinion of 2004 declared that products containing ARMGs affecting “highly relevant” antibiotics should not be placed on the market.(5)

Oh – and who are the big powers at the EFSA? Why – lordy me – Big Pharma, Big Ag, and Big Test Tube.

And who says Old Europe won’t learn from the New World?

Lift a fork to Comissar Lysenko – and his acolytes Dan Quayle and the EFSA.

Bon Appetit, Comrades.

[photo credit: azrainman]

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Kirk Murphy

Kirk Murphy

terrestrial obligate aerobe with endoskeleton (bony) and bilateral symmetry.

chordate, bipedal, warm-blooded, mammalian, placental (origin), opposable thumbs.

not (yet) extinct.

indigenous habitat: California Live Oak.

current habitat: Central California Coast (most northerly aspect).... 'northwest of the new world, east of the sea'

potential habitats: all potential habitats critically endangered (due to global climate change).

ailurophilic - hence allergic rhinitic.