Monday, August 4, 2014

FACING TANKS


WHO AM I?
     June 4, 1989 - CHINA - In the quintessential photo of the Tiananmen Square stand off, one man stands in front of four heavily armored tanks and he is holding two shopping bags. The tanks are real and symbolic of technologies and power systems used by Communist Party elites in China for control of their World - the earth, the economics, cultural and the rights life.
     Tiananmen Square, which incidentally means "Gate of Heavenly Peace", was the site of June 1989 demonstrations with an estimated million participants. Following the death of Mao Desung reforms were started. But, severe economic pressures were biting. As reported in Wikipedia: "The protesters called for government accountability, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the restoration of workers' control over industry." The results of the June 1989 demonstration was repression.
     June 4, 1989 - U.S.A - If there was a quintessential photo of the American "Tiananmen Square" stand off, it would be one woman standing in front of a series heavily armored Agro-industrial Corporate tanks holding two shopping bags.
     U.S. Tank #1 - Technology, an Agro-industrial "gene gun - a "Biolostics" (ballistic bombardment) "gun" which literally shoots metalic particles coated with genetic material into soybeans (or whatever plant). In this instance, biolostics was used to create a strain of soybeans which became immunized against a type of herbicide.
     U.S. Tank #2 - Seizing public resources. In order to own their GMO modified soybean, the Agro-industrial corporation had to patent the basic genomic stock and their modified GMO version. While they were at it, and before anyone realized what they were doing, corporate Agro-industry agressively patented indiginious plant genomes so that they own most species which formerly were saved and freely shared for worldwide farming and gardening since the dawn of time.
     The U.S. economic, political and spiritual/cultural way of life is in many ways like a wierd, reverse mirror-image of China. China was beginning to ease central control while our U.S. "free enterprise" corporate elite seized economic control. China wanted their farmers to be creatived. Our corporations wanted the poorest farmers in the Third World to pay for seeds and in doing so took away farmers' rights for self-determination. Our government and courts support their action. This worldwide Agro-industrial giant now can sue farmers in any country for using their own seeds which they saved.
     Like the demonstrators at Tinanaman Square, Americans have in their own way longed for freedom of speech, freedom of the press and demand freedom of choice when made possible. To U.S. Agro-corporate interests, freedom of speech does not apply to them - they don't have to reveal "trade secrets".
WHY AM I HERE?
      The timing of GMO research and product development was nearly perfect as economic pressures in the 1980s devastated thousands of U.S. family farms. There were suicides, murders and bankrupcies by the score as banks and Agro-idustries gave no relief. U.S. farmers sought economic refuge where ever they could find it including Agro-industrial "systems" - like GMOs / herbicide combo - which reduced costs and offered technological "guarantees".
     At the same time, consumers were not informed that these manipulated genetic plants were now replacing "natural" plants in nearly all cattle feed and food production. When offered a choice, consumers rejected GMO products like rBST milk and said no to "Franken-foods" like the "Flavr-Savr" tomato with incredibly unnatural shelf-life. Consumers wanted food security and freedom to choose "true food", organic / biodynamic. Since the 80s there has been a continuing worldwide battle over organic standards and corporate control.
     A revolutionary "game changer" was introduced in the 80s by growers in the Northeast of the United States who brought a new, non-technological social form of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) from Europe. CSA shifts the farmer's relationship from Agro-industrial dependency and mass-marketing to "buying local" quality food.
WHAT DO I WANT?
     We in the U.S. can be grateful that we have achieved buy-local, CSAs, organic and biodynamic certification as these increase our ability to have some small control over at least a small portion of our food and food safety. But this is still hotly contended by Agro-industry with its very deep pockets.
     In the 25 years since Tinanaman Square, China has evolved into a worldwide economic superpower. In addition, their long sought-after social reforms have begun to move toward greater freedom of speech and the press. Interestingly, China and other countries in the far east are demanding higher quality food products imported from U.S. suppliers. GMOs and other products have been refused.
     Perhaps in some wierd reverse way, China and the U.S. consumers may both be longing for greater accountability from our power systems - Socialistic and Capitalistic. In addition, we may both be demanding freedom of speech - such as labeling GMO products - freedom of the press (in our case a press not controlled by Agro-industrial related corporations.)
     Free speech, more personal freedom and reduced domination by repressive power systems - these are what the Chinese protested for and died for at Tinanaman Square 25 years ago.
     Will we need to do the same?

     Jean Yeager was the Managing Editor of the journal Biodynamics in the early 1990s.

(c) Copyright 2014, Jean W. Yeager
All Rights Reserved


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