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(en) Aotearoa-New Zealand Imminent Rebellion #1 - Attacking at the Roots - Developing Thorough Analysis and Action in the GE-Free Movement

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 29 Jan 2004 09:33:34 +0100 (CET)

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ON October the 29th, the moratorium on open
air genetically engineered crop growing was
lifted. Despite widespread popular opposition
to the release of GE crops and an active GE-
free movement, the government has gone ahead
with raising the moratorium.
Most arguments against growing GE crops
have been about their safety in our food and
our environment - at least these are the
arguments that have made it into the
mainstream media. While such claims are
potentially valid, they don't cut to the root of
the issue. The fundamental driving forces
pushing for GE crops (and all biotechnology in
general) is seldom commented on. I believe that
the GE-free movement's close ties with a
political party, namely the Greens, and the
elitist corporate body that is Greenpeace have
played a large part in stifling the development
of proper analysis of, and thus action against,
the forces at play here.
Action and debate has been mainly
consumer-orientated. The dominant objections
against GE food have been about its safety and
consumer choice. As a result, GE-free activists
have lobbied government and supermarket
chains to bring in labeling measures while
others have pushed for no release until more is
known about GE food and it's effects. In
response to this the government has brought in
much more stringent testing by ERMA
(Environmental Risks Management Authority)
and to allow GE crops into the environment on
a case by case basis. The actual effectiveness
of ERMA aside, such responses have in part
stemmed the tide of what could have been a
much larger opposition to genetic modification
of our food.
Several cases of more radical action have
also taken place but these have been sadly
lacking. The first crop trashing inAotearoa was
a Green Party publicity stunt and the only other
crop trashing was quickly denounced by the
Green Party. With the GE-free movement so
closely tied to the Greens this effectively
stunted any other radical action.
Being dominated by a political party, a
corporate body and middle-class liberals, the
GE-free movement's critique has been weak.
This critique has totally missed the point that
GE food is a brave new development in
capitalism. Capitalists, in search of even greater
profits (and thus more widespread oppression
and exploitation), have been forcefully pushing
into the new biotechnology market. Genetically
engineered food represents a potentially
massive portion of that market.

New patenting laws mean that by making
small changes to the underlying genetic code
of life capitalist corporations can come to own
that life. Plants and crops that could previously
be grown by virtually anyone now come under
the control of the parasitic class and give them
yet another lever with which to exploit us.
Already in the United States, virtually every
facet of the production process of food is
controlled (from the land on which the crops
are grown, the machinery used to grow them,
the chemicals used and finally the harvested
crops) and now this allows corporations to
totally control the crops used from the
beginning. In areas with less corporate control
of the production process, like New Zealand,
companies like Monsanto have other tricks up
their sleeve: from terminator genes which stop
natural seed production (thus putting an end
to individuals being able to collect and replant
seeds forcing them to buy new seeds straight
from the corporations each year) to crops which
only work with a specific herbicide (ie.
Monsanto crops will only work with
Monsanto's "Round-Up").
Effectively this corporate control of one of
the very essences of life - fown - will result in
further centralisation of wealth, the
dispossesion of peasant farmers from their land
and just basically the furthering of capitalist
control over all of us.
We should not confine our demands to the
limits put on us by capitalism. Of course, to
dig deeper means we have to become
independent of the Green Party and Greenpeace
because a more holistic critique of GE food
ultimately involves a critique of both of them.
While there are already many with such a
critique they are sidelined by those dominating
the movement (the Green Party and
Ultimately the GE-free movement needs to
question the exploitative nature of capitalism
itself, particularly the issue of private property.
The crux is that the genetic makeup of food
and life needs to be owned by everyone (and
by everyone I don't mean the state either), not
to be owned for the profit of a few. Of course,
this is only possible under a genuine classless
(and therefore stateless) society where land and
the "fruits of the earth" are owned communally
by all. We have to get rid of capitalism if we
are going to avoid the dangers of GE.
The GE issue is a vital issue. It shows the
stark reality of life under modern capitalism:
we get unsafe food imposed on us just because
capitalists have found a new market to extend
their global control of us and life in general. If
we are to continue our opposition to GE we
must discard those things that limit us and not
waste our time with the superficial, and
ultimately defeating, games of the Green Party
and Greenpeace. To move forward we have to
make it blatantly obvious the forces at work
here, how they tie in with the bigger picture
(ie. capitalism) and then go on to specifically
target them with direct action. Only then can
we hope to make any substantial gains.

- Torrance Hodgson (Based extensively on the
article Radicals or Reformists by Toby

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