Wake-up Call

Resist the Corporate State

Posts Tagged ‘Monopoly

Global Assault on Seed Sovereignty through Trade Deals

leave a comment »

Global Assault on Seed Sovereignty through Trade Deals Is Assault on Human Rights, Protest is Fertile

From Asia to South America, the EU to the Caribbean, the corporate seed industry is using international trade agreements to criminalise farmers for saving seeds

(A fully referenced version of this report is posted on ISIS members website and otherwise available for download here)   Institute of Science in Society     01/12/15

Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji

The multinational seed industry is continuing its multipronged attack on the most basic of human rights, the access to seed. Lobbyists of the seed industry are using trade agreements to pressure nations into adopting strict measures such as UPOV agreements that ensure the protection and ownership of new plant varieties for plant breeders. On top of this, corporate seed industry lobbyists are proposing revisions to the UPOV convention that promote further monopolisation of the seed industry through ‘harmonisation’ of procedures for registering and testing new plant varieties.

Protests in many regions around the world are putting up much needed resistance against this corporate takeover of the food system, successfully forcing governments to delay and even repeal the agreements. These movements are an inspiration for our continual global struggle against the relentless onslaught of agribusiness whose current biggest targets are the ‘untapped’ markets of the global South, with the spotlight on Africa and other regions where seeds have not yet been commercialized, and are still used in traditional systems that allow seed saving and exchange.  Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup, linked to epidemic diseases

leave a comment »

Stop Monsanto's Roundup Credo Action     In case you weren’t sure yet if the massive use of the herbicide glyphosate – the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup – was cause for concern, here’s the sobering takeaway from an MIT senior researcher who just conducted a review of the stuff:

“I’m certain at this point that glyphosate is the most important factor in an alarming number of epidemic diseases.”1

The introduction of Roundup in 1973 has corresponded with a rise in conditions including celiac disease (gluten intolerance), autism, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, obesity, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s and others.2

And its use – along with the rates of many of these diseases – has gone stratospheric over the last 15 years, with the approval of Monsanto’s GMO “Roundup Ready” crops specifically engineered to tolerate massive exposure to glyphosate. Roundup is now used all over the world on staple crops like wheat and soy, and has become the most widely used herbicide in the US.

Despite these trends, the EPA and FDA still consider glyphosate to be relatively safe and harmless – based largely on unpublished, industry-produced studies. That position is looking increasingly dangerous, and possibly wrong.

Tell the EPA and FDA: Immediately suspend the use of Monsanto’s Roundup until it can be proven safe. Click here to  sign the petition.

Read the rest of this entry »

Glencore: Profiteering From Hunger and Chaos

leave a comment »

Updated: new links below

By Chris Arsenault * 

DOHA, May 10, 2011 (IPS/Al Jazeera) – The rapid rise in prices for food, fuel and commodities has been disastrous for the world’s poor, including Indonesian market vendor Lia Romi. But it’s a bonanza for multinational trading firms such as Glencore.

While Romi has trouble feeding her family, Glencore – the world’s largest diversified commodities trader – is planning a $11 billion dollar share sale, likely the largest market debut ever seen on the London Stock Exchange.

“The price for our daily food has at least doubled in the past two years,” Lia Romi told Al Jazeera through a translator. “Food costs 100 per cent of my family’s daily income [of about $3]. I have nothing saved and I owe [money] from my [market stall] business.”

While Romi, and millions like her, worry about feeding their families, the initial public offering from the commodity speculating giant will create at least four billionaires, dozens worth more than 100 million dollars and several hundred old fashioned millionaires. Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg is set to make more than nine billion from the share sale. And speculating on food prices is an important part of his wealth.

Controlling prices

Valued at about 60 billion dollars, Glencore controls 50 percent of the global copper market, 60 per cent of zinc, 38 per cent in alumina, 28 per cent of thermal coal, 45 per cent of lead and almost 10 per cent of the world’s wheat – according to information the firm disclosed prior to its share sale. It also controls about one quarter of the world market in barley, sunflower and rape seed.

“They are possibly one of very few mining companies that are price makers, rather than price takers,” said Chris Hinde, editorial director of Mining Journal magazine. “They are the stockbrokers of the commodities business [operating] in a fairly secretive world. They are effectively setting the price for some very important commodities,” he told Al Jazeera.

The firm employs about 57,000 people, generated a turnover of 145 billion dollars in the past year and has assets worth more than 79 billion. Glencore’s media department refused interview requests from Al Jazeera.

Based in Baar, Switzerland, where regulation is minimal, the company’s sprawling interests span Bolivian tin mines, Angolan oil, zinc producers in Kazakhstan, Zambian copper mines and Russian wheat operations.

“Glencore’s vertical integration really is unprecedented,” said Devlin Kuyek, a researcher with GRAIN, a non-profit international organisation working on food security.

“Glencore owns almost 300,000 hectares of farm land and it is one of the largest farm operators in the world. They are engaging in speculation on the grain trade and have immense market power,” he told Al Jazeera.

Global food prices have climbed recently, returning close to their 2008 peak, when bread riots swept parts of the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.

“A disturbing amount of price increases, I fear, is being driven by speculative activity,” Marcus Miller, a professor of international economics at the University of Warwick, told Al Jazeera. “Bets [on future price rises or declines] can become self-fulfilling if you are big enough to affect the market.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Farmers and Consumer Groups File Lawsuit Challenging Genetically Engineered Alfalfa Approval

leave a comment »

March 18, 2011 –  Center For Food Safety

“Roundup Ready” Alfalfa Will Increase Pesticide Use and Cause Grave Harm to Environment and Organic Industry
USDA Failures Guarantee Transgenic Contamination, Creation of More Superweeds

Today, attorneys for the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), arguing that the agency’s recent unrestricted approval of genetically engineered (GE), “Roundup Ready” Alfalfa was unlawful.  The GE crop is engineered to be immune to the herbicide glyphosate, which Monsanto markets as Roundup.  USDA data show that 93% of all the alfalfa planted by farmers in the U.S. is grown without the use of any herbicides.  With the full deregulation of GE alfalfa, USDA estimates that up to 23 million more pounds of toxic herbicides will be released into the environment each year.

“USDA has once again failed to provide adequate oversight of a biotech crop,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety. “This reckless approval flies in the face of overwhelming evidence that GE alfalfa threatens the rights of farmers and consumers, as well as significant harm to the environment.  APHIS has refused to apply and enforce the law and instead has chosen to bow to the wishes of the biotech industry.”

This is the second case challenging the legality of USDA’s handling of GE alfalfa.  In 2007, in another case brought by CFS, a federal court ruled that the USDA’s approval of the engineered crop violated environmental laws by failing to analyze risks such as the contamination of conventional and organic alfalfa, the evolution of glyphosate-resistant weeds, and increased use of Roundup.  The case resulted in USDA undertaking a court-ordered four-year study of GE alfalfa’s impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  Remarkably, it marked the first time USDA had ever undertaken such a study, known as an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), in over 15 years of approving GE crops for commercial production.  While USDA worked on the EIS, GE alfalfa remained unlawful to plant or sell, a ban that remained in place despite Monsanto appealing the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Oily Billionaire Koch Bros’ Obscene Game of Monopoly

with 2 comments

AlterNet

Here’s an infographic from  friends at The Other 98%:

Looting Public Assets: here come the Koch brothers!

with 3 comments

(updated)  x 3

First Wisconsin, then your back yard.          

This isn’t just about unions- the big scam is about power plants and a vertical monopoly for the Koch Brothers with total disregard for the public interest. In a word: looting.


This is the big issue hidden behind the bargaining conflict: selling off public assets for peanuts to corporate cronies of corrupt politicians.  We will soon be prisoners in our own country if this continues: pay a corporation to drive on your street, to cross every bridge, to use your water faucet, to flip a light switch….They’ll add exponential profits to use what used to be public utilities and infrastructure built with public funds.  The new feudalism is at the gate!

May 1933: Hitler Abolishes Unions

“On May 2nd, 1933, the day after Labor day, Nazi groups occupied union halls and labor leaders were arrested. Trade Unions were outlawed by Adolf Hitler, while collective bargaining and the right to strike was abolished. This was the beginning of a consolidation of power by the fascist regime which systematically wiped out all opposition groups, starting with unions, liberals, socialists, and communists using Himmler’s state police. Fast forward to America today, particularly Wisconsin. Governor Walker and the Republican/Tea Party members of the state legislature are attempting to pass a bill that would not only severely punish public unions (with exception for the police, fire, and state trooper unions that supported his campaign), but it would effectively end 50 years to the right of these workers to collectively bargain.”

The Koch Brothers’ End Game in Wisconsin

[Note: Now here’s a thought…] As always this has to do with money, and the union “compromise” coming down the pipe was set up to be the “booby” prize while the Koch Brothers get their “booty” prize. This is all being well-orchestrated with an end game that has absolutely nothing to do with unions. As I said in comments before, to much bewilderment, this is about power plants and a vertical monopoly the Kock Brothers have their eye on in Wisconsin. So in short: 1) Koch Brothers get their puppet Governor Walker in power 2) Governor Walker gins up a crisis 3) Democrats and Progressives take the bait and counter-protest on collective bargaining 4) Governor Walker will compromise on collective bargaining if the rest of the budget is passed as is 5) Bill passes, with trojan horse give-a-way to the Koch Brothers nested in 6) Koch Brothers will buy Wisconsin state-owned power plants for pennies on the dollar in closed unsolicitated bids for which there will be no oversight 7) Koch Brothers get the best vertical monopoly in a generation .

Scott Walker Threatens Rights and Jobs for Wall St. Billions

In a move so fitting for a hero of the modern Corporate Facist Republican Party Scott Walker today is having a hissy fit if he does not get his way. Yes, the Governor that started that state’s budget problems with huge giveaways to Corporate America now wants his plan to make workers pay for it passed at all costs. Today he is refusing to compromise and threatening to axe 1500 jobs in a recession if he does not get his way. But of course Scott Walker has already been bought and paid for and has received his marching orders. Indeed, Walker has become a foot soldier for billionaires in the War on the Working Class and is relishing his new role as “warrior” for the greediest and least patriotic among us.

Wisconsin Is a Battleground Against the Billionaire Kochs’ Plan to Break Labor’s Back

By Adele M. Stan | AlterNet

What’s at stake in Wisc: Public Assets No-Bid Give-Away to Koch brothers

The fight in Wisconsin is over Governor Walker’s 144-page Budget Repair Bill. But the MSM is missing a large part of what the bill would do. The bill would allow for the NO-BID selling of state-owned heating/cooling/power plants, without concern for the legally-defined public interest. The attempt to break labor is part of the same continuous motion as saying that the crony, corporatist selling of state utilities to the Koch brothers and other energy interests is the new “public interest.”

A CMD Special Report: Scott Walker Runs on Koch Money

Madison, Wisconsin — A new investigation by the Center for Media and Democracy documents the big money funneled by one of the richest men in America and one of the richest corporations in the world to put controversial Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in office.

Walker’s hidden energy agenda was evident even before he took office:

Walker kills project to convert power plant to burn biofuels

***

Addendum: thanks to Mike Konczal at Rortybomb

Shawn Doherty in Cap Times has a great article on Governor Walker going after Medicaid.   I’ve been trying to get my head around this part of the debate, a part equally important as the public union breaking part.  The ability for a Governor to rework important state functions without oversight and without some sort of check for the “public interest” leads to crony deals and corruption. Jonathan Cohn has an important followup, where he points out the telling idea that Walker is even going after Tommy Thompson’s reforms.

Item from August, 2010:

COVERT OPERATIONS The billionaire brothers [owners of Koch Industries, Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch, 74 and 70, respectively, at date of publication  8/30/2010],  are waging a war against Obama

Rupert Murdoch and David Koch Collude Against Wisconsin Workers

While Fox News feeds its rabble the anti-union line, Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal columnists front for Koch’s Americans for Prosperity and coddle elite investors

Confirmed: Union-Bashing Right-Wing Media Stars Hannity, Limbaugh and O’Reilly Are AFL-CIO Union Affiliated Members

In spite of their criticism of unions in Wisconsin, AlterNet has confirmed that leading right-wing pundits are American Federation Television and Radio Artists union members.

The Sun Is Fading on Biotechnology

with one comment

Source: Global Research

from   Does Your Food Contain Genetically Modified Organisms?” by Rady Ananda  10/10/10

Biotechnology may have had its day in the sun, but that light is fading. The New York Times reported Monsanto’s stock dropped from a peak of $145 a share in 2008 to under $48 a share on Monday. The Christian Science Monitor noted that “the rapid increase in the percentage of US farm acres planted with biotech crops has slowed. It rose only 1 percent last year, from 85 percent to 86 percent, the smallest increase since 2001.”

Check out this interactive map of the history of GMO releases in the US from 1987 thru 2008:

Cataloguing the problems of the biotech industry, CSM states:

“Corn Belt farmers complain loudly about the soaring cost of seed. The federal government is investigating the industry for anticompetitive practices. Farmers are grappling increasingly with weeds that have grown resistant to Roundup, an herbicide widely used with genetically modified crops, and genetic contamination of conventional crops.”

Even the United Nations rebuked biotechnology this year when it concluded that agroecology “improves food production and farmers’ incomes while at the same time protecting the soil, water and climate.” The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, reported:

“The widest study ever conducted on the subject found that agroecological approaches resulted in an average crop yield gain of 79 per cent. The study covered 286 projects in 57 developing countries, representing a total surface of 37 million hectares.” (That’s over 91 million acres.)

Biotech found a friend in billionaire Bill Gates, however, so this fading light still has juice. This is precisely why a home-grown solution like the Non-GMO Project can be so effective.  By verifying which products are GM-free, NGP allows consumers to make informed choices, despite censorship by the FDA.

Use NPG’s PDF shopping guide or their iPhone app to find products verified as GM-free. The Rodale Institute, also involved with NGP, advises to buy organic and grass-fed. Check the PLU code:

“GMO foods contain the number 8 before the four-digit code printed on the produce sticker. Organic foods contain the number 9.”