Environment, Health and Food Safety in the era of T®ansgenic - Part Two

Environment, Health and Food Safety in the era of T®ansgenic - Part Two

First part

GMOs are undoubtedly not the only alternative, nor were they, nor are agrochemicals. To investigate other options, one would have to ask oneself, Where do we want to go? Beyond Carson's silent spring as a result of the productivist logic of capitalist agriculture or towards a harmonious relationship with nature? In this search, agroecology has a lot to offer, not understood as the simple substitution of fertilizers for industrial bio-fertilizers, or of herbicides for industrial bio-herbicides. Rather, such as those techniques to conserve the different species in situ, to produce seeds organically and to seek, over time, the resistance of the crops, the rescue of old varieties and little by little clean them of dependence on agrochemicals to which they have been subjected.

Such is the case of the Landless in Brazil who are producing agroecological seeds known under the name "Bio Natur". The above is not the result of romanticism in the past, rather it is the cause and consequence of the limits imposed by nature on a system that has created wealth but also misery, and that leads us to urgently seek a way out that articulates living biodiversity, germplasm banks and ecosystems, local and formal knowledge, laws and political-social codes; but above all, that which does not have as its articulating axis the Capital but the self-managing capacity of the Nation and then of its peoples, a fact that implies a new productive and ecological rationality of agricultural production techniques, as it refers exclusively to the theme that has occupied us here.-


1 - Beck, Ulrich. The Global Risk Society. XXI century. Spain, 2002.
2 - Funtowicz, Silvio and Ravetz, Jerome. Postnormal Science, science with people. Icaria. Spain, 2000.
3 - Marx, Karl. Capital. Volume I, Vol. 2. Chapter XIII, "Machinery and Large Industry". Footnote number 88. Page 453. Editorial Siglo XXI. Eighth edition in Spanish, 1980.
4 - Marx, Karl. The Grundrisse. Volume II. P, 594.
5 - Echeverría, Bolívar. "Modernity and Capitalism", in: Echeverría, Bolívar. The Illusions of Modernity. Unam / The Equilibrist. Mexico, 1995: 140.
6 - Marx calls absolute surplus value produced by prolonging the working day; On the contrary, the one that arises from the reduction of the necessary working time and the consequent change in the proportion of magnitude that mediates between both component parts of the working day, he calls relative surplus value. (Marx, Karl. 2: Chapter X. Concept of Relative Plusvalue. 8th Edition. 383)
7 - When the development of technical (cutting-edge) productive forces manages to produce goods with an individual cost lower than that which is socially determined by the general technological level, the capitalist who develops cutting-edge technology will sell said goods above their value. individual, but to take the market away from other producers, it will do so below its social value. This difference in value is precisely the extraordinary surplus value that can only be exploited by the capitalist who has the latest technology. However, when this technology begins to be copied by the rest of the capitalists (it becomes socialized), the socially necessary labor time shifts to a new level, so that the capital that originally developed the technology is forced to develop even more. the technique to be able to maintain that exploitation of extraordinary surplus value. It is in this sense and perspective that it is possible to understand why capitalism becomes addicted to developing more and more technology and the raison d'être of the dispute for the control of cutting-edge technology - patents and copyrights. (See Marx, Karl. The production of relative surplus value. In Capital. Volume I Vol.2 Edit. XXI century Page 385.)
8 - Marx's theory of crises points out that with their periodic return, they pose, in an increasingly threatening way, the question of the existence of the entire bourgeois society. In these recurring crises, not only a considerable part of merchandise is destroyed systematically, but even the productive forces themselves. Such a Marxian analysis shows how well society can weather crises and catastrophes. On the one hand, by the forced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets and the more intense exploitation of the old ones. Crises can wipe out individuals and groups that, according to market definitions, are relatively weak and inefficient; they can open up empty spaces for new investment and development; They can force the bourgeoisie to innovate, expand, and combine more comprehensively and ingeniously than before: thus they can act as unexpected sources of capitalist strength and resistance. Perhaps it is true, as Marx says, these forms of adaptation only prepare for more extensive and violent crises. But in the opposite direction, it should be pointed out that the bourgeois ability to make destruction and chaos profitable as a structural part of the capitalist system of production also trains men and women who, in complete disagreement with the logic of capital, increasingly synthesize and open the possibility of revolution.
9 - I follow Wright's suggestion to name as power elites the various social classes that "? Occupy the command posts of the social structure on which the effective means of power and wealth are now centered" (Wright Mills, Charles . The Elite of Power. FCE. Mexico, 1987. Pp. 12)
10 - Delgado-Ramos, Gian Carlo. The Biological Threat. Plaza and Janes. Mexico, 2002.
11 - Ibid: 36-41.
12 - Although Veraza does not make a monographic study of the history of capitalism, the central idea of ​​relating capitalist crises and technological revolutions is found in some of his works. See: Veraza U., Jorge. "Karl Marx and technique from the perspective of Life". Criticisms of Political Economy. No. 22/23. Veraza U., Jorge. "Current Capitalist Crisis and Development: May to October 1850". UAM. Division of Sciences and Humanities. Sociology Department. Mexico, 1992.
13 - Veraza considers that the crisis of 1848 is defining of the capitalist world geopolitics and is the one that reactivates since 1850 the process that will lead to the Second Technological Revolution of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. (See Veraza U., Jorge. "From May to October 1850" op cit.
14 - Recovering the validity of Jorge Veraza's work, it is important to point out that "the real subsumption of the world raises and imposes a restructuring of civilizations from the universalization of new technological systems designed, recoded and internally intervened by the valorization process; oppressively industrializing the system of nations to encompass the entire geo-economic world. " For Veraza, the real subsumption of consumption by capital constitutes an empowering and inescapable development of the real subsumption of work by capital. Such development leads to capitalist recoding beyond the productive sphere, and with it, of technology as use value to intervene in the globality of modern material goods. (See Veraza U., Jorge. The real subsumption of consumption under capital in postmodernity and the 1844 manuscripts of Karl Marx, Seminario del El Capital. Faculty of Economics, UNAM. Mexico, 1994)
15 - In a publication of the National Institute for Strategic Studies of the United States Defense University, it is stated that the development of cutting-edge technology thought and promoted by the military industry, a fact that is described and justified throughout said publication, "... needs to be insensitive to environmental stress, temperature variation and radiation." (Libicki, Martin C. What Makes Industries Strategic. The Institute for National Strategic Studies. National Defense University. Washington, D.C. November, 1989. 12)
16 - Veraza U., Jorge. (1994). Op cit. section entitled "Real Subordination of Consumption under capital and disposal of needs".
17 - If it is considered that genetic engineering refers to the techniques to recombine DNA, and that this is the starting point of biotechnology, the latter is understood here as the commercial applications of the former, whether in the field or in medicine , in the manufacture of novel biological weapons, etcetera. For a specific analysis of the applications mentioned and others, see: Delgado-Ramos, Gian Carlo. The Biological Threat: myths and false promises of biotechnology. Plaza and Janés. Mexico, 2002.
Fusell, G.E. "The Agricultural Revolution, 1600-1850" in Kranzberg and Pursell. History of Technology: technique in the West from Prehistory to 1900. Vol. First.Gustavo Gili. Spain.
18 - Ibid: 152.
19 - Ibid: 157.
20 - Ibidem.
21 - Ibid: 161.
23 - Quoting Marx in his Manuscripts of '44: "The right of the landowner derives, in its origins, from theft (Say, vol. I. 136) ... and they demand a rent even for the natural product of the earth ( Smith, vol. I, p. 100) ". "The Rent of the Earth". Economic-philosophical manuscripts of 1844. In Marx and Engels, MARX, Youth writings. 583. First edition. Mexico, 1982.)
24 - Marx, Karl. Volume III. 8. Third Book. Chapter XXXVII, "The transformation of the Plusganancia in rent of the land". 815. Third edition in Spanish. Mexico, 1984.
25 - Fusell, Op cit: 161.
26 - Fitzgerald, Deborah. "Mastering Nature and Yerman: agricultural science in the twentieth century". In Krige and Pestre. Science in the Twentieth Century. Chapter 36. Harwood Academic Publishers. France.
27 - Ibid: 702.
28 - Ibid: 703.
29 - Ibid: 703-704.
30 - For the ranking of biobusiness multinationals see:
31 - Fitzgerald, Op cit: 706.
32 - Since 1982, the role of the World Bank in Mexico and in the rest of the periphery has been to establish a creditor regime at all costs, as a result of the crisis of that year. This through mechanisms designed to fill the budget "gaps" generated by the massive diversion of public spending to debt service and other non-productive expenses such as the famous bailouts. After each crisis and each rescue, the dependency and urgency of governments on highly conditioned loans by the aforementioned institutional bodies increases. The programs sponsored by the World Bank indicate the implementation of a line of conditionality that has literally devastated the national economy, and in a particularly acute way the grain sector. Starting in 1982, the Mexican government applied the creditor conditionality package, that is, the reduction of public spending, the precise orientation of the subsidies, the fiscal reform, the restriction of credit, the privatization of most of the state companies , trade liberalization, devaluation, the abolition of barriers to foreign investment and the application of salary caps. In 1988, the World Bank granted a loan to the agricultural sector "ME2918" with which it established the guidelines to promote a historical regression, which in the words of the program itself, its objectives were: 1) to remove subsidies to globalize food, as well as to redirect remaining food subsidies for the poor. 2) reduce government intervention in agricultural markets, so that by eliminating guaranteed prices for grains (especially corn and beans), so that the market now determines the price. 3) abolish export controls and quantitative restrictions on key products. 4) reduce the role of agricultural parastatals, such as Conasupo. 5) Liberalize agricultural trade. 6) remove input subsidies. 7) increase the efficiency of public investment. 8) decentralize and cut staff in the secretary of agriculture. A first evaluation of the program made by the WB itself on the results, indicates that it effectively managed to put these loans and influence within the government structure, promoting the so-called reformers, especially in the direction of promoting changes to Article 27 of the Constitution (for which there was resistance inside and outside the government), to finally approve them in December 1991. (See Saxe-Fernández, John. XXI Seminar on Agricultural Economics. November 2000. IIEs.)
33 - Robinson, R. A. Return to Resistance: breeding crops to reduce pesticide resistance. AgAccess, Davis. nineteen ninety six
34 - Previously mentioned, McNamara before being president of the World Bank, was Secretary of Defense of the United States in the administration of Kennedy and Lincon Johnson. Also former president of Ford Motors Co.
35 -See Bell, Janet and GRAIN, Investing in Destruction: The World Bank and Biodiversity, GRAIN, 1999. Pg.2.
36 -Ibid. P. 2-3.
37 - FAO, Agriculture: Towards 2015/30, Global Outlook Study. Rome, 1999
38 - The control of the main agricultural patents and agricultural technology by biotechnological MNCs at the end of 1998, based on data from the US Patent and Trademark Office, was as follows: 1,370 agricultural biotechnological patents (Agbio Patents) corresponded to 30 applicants. Of these, 74% came from only 6 CMN -Pharmacia (Monsanto), 287 patents. DuPont, 279 patents. Syngenta, 173 Patents. Dow, 157 patents. Aventis, 77 patents and Grupo Pulsar, 38 patents. (Gregory Graff. Disertation. Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. U.C Berkeley. 2001.)
39 - Altieri, Miguel A. And Rosset, Peter. "The false panacea of ​​biotechnology". This country. 120. March 2001. 10.
40 - Oliver, Richard W. The Coming Biotech Age. Mc Graw-Hill. New York, 2000. 177.
41 - FAO Op cit: ibidem.
42 - Carson L., Ráchale. Silent Spring. Criticism-Drakontos. Barcelona 2001: 20-21.
43 -
44 - Oliver, Op cit: 172.
45 - Ibidem.
46 - Carson, Op cit.
47 - It is worth noting that the Network of 16 agricultural research centers in the world, financed by public and private donors - in addition to the World Bank, - as a public agricultural research effort to serve poor farmers in the periphery, was unknown to the Committee. of NGOs that participate in said Group when they announced in October 2002 that they would suspend their participation for all of 2003, since the CGIAR has failed to take measures against transgenic contamination of native crops in Mexico. Perhaps the growing participation of CMN as Syngenta (Switzerland) from its Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture on the board of directors of the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement / CYMMIT, part of the CGIAR, allows us to understand why. See ETC Group, Trouble in Paradise. October 2002. Canada. (Available at
48 - Delgado, Op cit: 257-283.
49 - Carson, thinking about the case of agrochemicals, wrote that, "? Under conditions of primary agriculture, the peasant has few problems with insects. These grow with the intensification of crops: delivery of immense tracts of land to a single harvest. This system prepares the steps for the mass production of specific insect colonies.Growers of a single product class do not profit from the principles by which nature works; it is agriculture as an engineer might conceive it. Nature has introduced great variety into the landscape, but man has displayed a true passion to simplify it. In this way he undoes the edifice of divisions and equilibrium in which nature contains species at its limits. An important natural division is that of reduction to the desirable number of each species It is obvious, therefore, that the insect living on wheat can raise its colony to the level it is far superior on a wheat farm than on one where wheat is alternated with other crops to which the insect is not adapted. " (Carson, Op cit: 22)
50 - In the sixties, Rachel Carson was the first to draw attention to the dangers of excessive use of herbicides and pesticides. However, it was censored by the powerful chemical corporations. Scientists working for them denounced their warnings as alarmist and false. Over time the consequences of pesticide and herbicide contamination became too obvious to be ignored. The case of bioinsecticides, bioherbicides and biological pesticides inserted as mechanisms of the plant through their genetic modification is the same. Today critics are branded as alarmists and false: Why believe again in the assertions of multinationals that spread the neutrality and even the safety of such genetic modifications at the top of their lungs?
51 - In Mexico, the center of origin of the bulk of endemic maize species, the implications that the importation of transgenic maize from the USA could have was realized in due time. Despite appeals from NGOs and civil society, the situation remained. A few years later, it was confirmed, by Ignacio Chapela (Berkeley) in coordination with his brother Francisco Chapela (Mexico) --the same ones who participated in the Sandoz (Novartis / Syngenta) biopiracy project - that there was contamination of traditional corn fields in the State of Oaxaca with Bt, from transgenic corn. Later it would be corroborated by the National Institute of Ecology (INE) based on the work of scientists from the IPN and UNAM, however the journal Nature refused to publish the official result of the INE. ( It is speculated, although for obvious reasons it has not been determined, that it is contamination from GMOs from the MNCs Novartis and Monsanto. (Enciso, Angelica. "They detect contamination by transgenic corn in Oaxacan milpas". La Jornada. October 15, 2001. 26.). The Nicaraguan case has been appropriately denounced by the Managua-based Humboldt Center.
52 - Carson indicated a similar phenomenon in the case of agrochemicals: "? Since the mid-1940s, some 200 products have been created to kill insects, destroy weeds, rodents and other organisms described in modern language as 'pests', and which are sold under several thousand different names and meanings? Those powders, sprays and irrigations are applied almost universally in farms, gardens, forests and homes ?; unselected products that have the power to kill all insects, the 'good' and the ' bad ', to silence the song of the birds and to immobilize the fish in the rivers, to cover the leaves with a deadly film and to empty the ground? even if the intended target is only a few weeds or insects. Can anyone believe Is it possible for such a hodgepodge of poisons to spread over the earth's surface without being unsuitable for all living things? They shouldn't be called 'insecticides', but biocides. " (Carson, Op cit: 19)
53 - Tavabali, Azam F. and Seligy, Verner L. "Human Cell Exposure Assays of Bacillus thuringiensis. Commercial Insecticides: Production of Bacillus cereus-Like Cytolytic Effects from Outgrowth of Spores" in Environmental Health. 108, No. 10. October 2000. 919-930. This is nothing new, Carson indicated that in the case of agrochemicals "? This has happened because insects, in triumphant vindication of Darwin's theory of survival by adaptation, have produced races superior to special insecticides, Hence, more deadly ones have to be used? and then others and others (Carson, Op cit: 20)
54 - Carson, Op cit: 44-45.
55 - Ibid: 80-81.
56 - Tayabali, Azam F. and Seligy Verner L. 919-930.
57 - Concept devised by RAFI to refer to technologies that, by modifying the genetic structure of seeds, allow a series of manipulations in their vital functions that are implemented for commercial purposes. RAFI classifies terminator technology into three categories: Generation I (terminator and terminator / traitor. Ideal for the Seed and Chemical Industry), II (designed for the processed food industry) and III (nutriceuticals). See Mooney, Pat R. The ETC Century. RAFI. 1999. pp. 85 and 88.
58 - Ibid: 40
59 - Carson, Op cit: 264.
60 - RAFI, "Transgenic Seeds: Just a sudden stop or have they already fallen into the void?", Geno-Types / RAFI. 01/21/2001
61 - Ibidem.
62 - Ibid.
63 - Jornada, La. "Cargill intends to monopolize the distribution and supply of grains: ANEC". August 15, 2002. Mexico.
64 - Faced with the total opening of the field in the context of NAFTA, Mexican peasants and related associations formed the NGO "El Campo Ya No Aguanta Más". For a specific investigation of the current panorama, consult: Bartra, Armando. "A field that can't take it anymore." Mexico, December 14, 15 and 16, 2002 (; Jornada, La. "The field before NAFTA". Mexico, January 7, 2003; Hernández Navarro, Luis. "The survivors". Mexico, January 21, 2003; Financiero, El. "Review of the NAFTA agricultural article: CNC reiterates." Mexico, December 19, 2002; Jornada, La. "ANEC and UNORCA, opponents of NAFTA, warn that their fight will continue." Mexico, December 18, 2002; Rail, Marco. "Perceptions and Realities of the Field". Mexico, December 17, 2002; Rosset, Peter. "NAFTA, FTAA and WTO: a single front". Mexico, December 12, 2002; Jornada, La. "To the field‘ he already took goat legs ’: Concamin." Mexico, December 6, 2002; Jornada, La. "They ask to declare agriculture in economic, social and environmental emergency." Mexico, December 4, 2002; among others.
65 - Carson, Op cit: 29.
66 - Ibid: 48.
67 - Ribeiro, Silvia. "The other face". October 29, 2002. Mexico.
68 - Council of Ecological Agricultural Production of Navarra. Transgenic Contamination (GMO) in Ecological Agriculture in Navarra. Pamplona Iruña, September 9, 2002.
69 - See Carson, Op cit: 24-25.
70 - Ibid :. 294-297.
71 - Ibid: 295.
72 - Ibid: 290.

* Gian Carlo Delgado Ramos
Mexican economist, author of The Biological Threat: Myths and False Promises of Biotechnology (Plaza and Janés. México, 2002) and Biodiversity, Sustainable Development and Militarization (Ceiich / Unam. México, 2003). Co-author with John Saxe-Fernández of Globalization of Terror, Bioterrorist Threat (Centro Marinello. Cuba, 2002) and World Bank and Comprehensive Denationalization of Mexico (Ceiich / Unam. He is currently doing his graduate studies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona with sponsored by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation.

Video: Genetically Modified Organism GMO (September 2021).