Agriculture / Organic Farming, STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Encouraging Trend: Organic Farming Stands Up to GMOs
By Staff News & Analysis - October 13, 2014

Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) agencies investigated the appearance of what appeared to be GE wheat on an Oregon farm, and concluded that it was an isolated incident. The investigation was closed after 'exhausting all leads,' but new GMO wheat has been detected at the Montana State University's Southern Agricultural Research Center (SARC) in Huntley, Montana, where Monsanto and researchers grew GE wheat as part of field trials from 2000 to 2003. – National Society

Dominant Social Theme: GMOs are merely misunderstood.

Free-Market Analysis: Genetically modified wheat has again been discovered in the US, but you won't read much about it in the mainstream media. The last time GM wheat was discovered in US farm fields, the domestic export market crashed and Japan issued a US wheat ban.

The meme here is that GM foods are necessary to feed the growing billions of people on planet Earth, though there is no evidence from what we can tell that mass starvation is imminent (absent economic and military interference to make it so).

The 1960s "green revolution" was at the time touted as a way to end hunger on Earth, though, in fact, its reliance on petroleum-based products and pesticides has ended up degrading soil around the world. We have no doubt that whatever companies like Monsanto produce, it likely will not be as healthy or helpful as claimed.

GM wheat is especially controversial and has not yet been approved generally for public consumption. For this reason, finding GM wheat in the food chain has economic consequences. People are suspicious; nations ban it. It's not good to find it in your fields, though this is not the first time that has happened.

Here's more from the article:

… A new investigation will be opened to investigate regulatory compliance issues with the GE wheat found growing at the research facility in Montana. While this site was previously authorized for Monsanto to conduct field trials, the company is not supposed to be growing GM wheat or any other GM crop there now.

Furthermore, the GM wheat found growing there now has been genetically tested and is significantly different from the GE wheat found growing in Oregon last year. Since the original field trials granted to Monsanto, the APHIS has not deregulated any GE wheat varieties. They are not to be for sale or in commercial production in the U.S.

… Though Monsanto's initial GM wheat field tests were conducted under APHIS' regulatory approval, they have no business growing GM wheat now. This is a serious breech of compliance, and as many have suspected, Monsanto has little regard for regulatory approval for their GM crop experiments, though they often receive it through political maneuvering and illegal campaign contributions nonetheless.

… It is clear with this new Montana GM scandal that cross-breeding, the scarce but resilient GM plant that lasts after a crop has been cleared, as well as the insidious business habits of Monsanto are still threatening organic farmers' fields and the right of the U.S. public to have GMO-free food.

The takeaway here is something we already understand: Monsanto has little regard for the regulations aimed in its direction and instead, turns the law to its advantage aggressively, especially civil law. The company liberally sues farmers who harvest crops from seeds that have blown into their fields and uses corporate funds to create legislative initiatives favorable to its interests.

This process is known as mercantilism and Monsanto is very good at it. Because Monsanto is so big and aggressive, it generates legislative support for its business practices which it then parlays into commercial advantages.

Monsanto needs to do this sort of thing because there are continued, considerable questions about its products. Without its mercantilist strategies – without acquiring the threat of government force to implement its programs – Monsanto would apparently lose many of its commercial advantages.

Here's an excerpt from a article on Monsanto's genetically altered wheat, posted in 2012:

Genetically engineered wheat contains an enzyme suppressor that, when consumed by humans, could cause permanent liver failure (and death). That's the warning issued today by molecular biologist Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury in Australia.

Heinemann has published an eye-opening report that details this warning and calls for rigorous scientific testing on animals before this crop is ever consumed by humans. The enzyme suppressor in the wheat, he says, might also attack a human enzyme that produces glycogen. Consumers who eat genetically modified wheat would end up contaminating their bodies with this enzyme-destroying wheat, causing their own livers to be unable to produce glycogen, a hormone molecule that helps the body regulate blood sugar metabolism.

This, in turn, would lead to liver failure. "What we found is that the molecules created in this wheat, intended to silence wheat genes, can match human genes, and through ingestion, these molecules can enter human beings and potentially silence our genes," said Heinemann in a press conference on the threat of GM wheat.

Now, the above certainly seems in some ways to be speculative, but the point is that it's difficult to actually establish damages that may be produced by genetically modified crops. One would like to argue that the market itself will decide on the viability of Monsanto products, but that's not the case because of Monsanto's preference to use legislative means – and thus the threat of state force – to introduce and popularize its products.

There's certainly no outcry for the implementation of GM crops; there was never, so far as we know, a mass movement of some sort among those in the agriculture industry to find alternatives to natural crops. It's very likely that the real reason companies like Monsanto are pursuing GM crops is because they can be patented and owned.

This is the Western model of big business, and one that applies to the products of pharmaceutical corporations, as well. These corporations find natural palliatives and then create chemical counterparts that they can patent and sell. Monsanto intends to create patented food solutions.

In part because of the aggressiveness of Monsanto and other companies such as Cargill, a countertrend has emerged in the "organic farming" movement. Unlike Monsanto's corporatization of farming, the organic farming movement seems to be "grassroots." It has sprung up because people are increasingly suspicious of Big Agriculture and the questionable products that are being produced and disseminated.

The organic farming movement seems to be a populist reaction to Western government's increased control over food and farming – and as such, it has attracted a good deal of investor attention. A Forbes article posted in late September and entitled "Dirt Cheap? Investors Are Plowing Into Farmland, Here's Why" updated the trend.

Here's a phrase you don't hear so often: multimillionaire farmers. If you've read my column, you know that I often try to shine some light on whatever "alternative" or esoteric investment has captured the attention of wealthy families and institutions. Well, hold on to your straw hats, because one of the most interesting investments to catch their fancy recently is farmland.

The best indexes of land values come from Iowa, which has nearly 31 million acres of farmland. In April an outfit called the Iowa Farm & Land Chapter #2 Realtors Land Institute (chew on that mouthful) said its survey of local farmland brokers put the average price of the highest-quality farmland there at $11,674 per acre.

Even the midgrade dirt was fetching $8,300 per acre. While those prices were down 5 percent or so from a year earlier, they are still way, way up over the long run. In the late 1990s you could buy midgrade farmland for less than $1,700 per acre.

Iowa State University also provides a good survey of land values. It reports that a landowner who bought in 2000 and sold last year would have earned a 12.6 percent annualized return on his investment — and that is not including the proceeds from farming the land or leasing it out to a farmer.

Yep: Farmland has solidly beaten the stock market since the late 1990s. So there are many millionaire farmers around Iowa. After all, the average size of a farm there is 333 acres, meaning the average Iowa farmer tilling his own high-grade soil has an asset worth $4 million. So the next time you pass through Waterloo or Story City, show the guys in overalls some respect, even if they're not carrying pitchforks.

To be sure, it's not the farmers themselves who are driving the boom in prices. As I mentioned, it's the money pouring in from outside investors. The smart money wants to own hard assets that are critical to the maintenance of advanced industrial civilization. Among these core assets necessary for human life is, obviously, the production of food.

Huge institutional investors ranging from sovereign wealth funds to university endowments to the Mormon church have been heavily investing in farmland not only in the United States but around the world (particularly in Africa and South America) for a while now. So, if you believe in following the smart money, farmland must be a solid investment.

This last paragraph is noteworthy because the organic farming trend – and farmland as an investment generally – is not just a domestic US trend but is an expanding investment opportunity around the world.

In a sense, here as elsewhere we find what we call a VESTS paradigm at work. Globalist forces are obviously supporting the expansion of patentable GM foods and these activities are expanding worldwide. At the same time, the evolution of an organic foods movement has provided a direct countertrend.

Both sides have specific commercial and investment advantages and chances are that at least in the short- to mid-term, neither side will "win." Of course, here at The Daily Bell we know where we stand, having decided that we are more comfortable with industry trends that undercut elite dominant social themes. We're not comfortable, for instance, with investments that support the increasingly globalized, Western military-industrial complex.

And so we wouldn't be comfortable investing in GM-specific corporate initiatives. But certainly organic farming offers an investment that can provide growth within a positive context. Wholesome food grown within a context of family or community farming is a great trend that allows people to take control of their foodstuffs once more. Predictably, you find government resistance to this trend.

Forbes seems positive about this trend, as well, though the article points out the explosive growth in farming generally might lead one to believe that this is a better time to sit on the proverbial sidelines than to enter into extensive positions.

We're not sure we agree with this perspective, certainly not in the long term. The world will continue to need vast amounts of food, obviously, and presumably people will increasingly prefer healthy food over food that is adulterated and subject to GM manipulation.

After Thoughts

We'll bet on organic farming. As a trend, it seems a "keeper."

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Posted in Agriculture / Organic Farming, STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
  • 90degrees

    Without a doubt, dangerous and unscrupulous companies, like Monsanto, need to be destroyed.

    But equally sinister and unethical is the call by the biologist Heinemann for testing these Frankenstein foods on animals.

  • Simple hybrid wheat which became widespread in the 50s and 60s is responsible for much of the gluten sensitivity and allergic reactions to wheat that have turned up out of nowhere over the last few decades – and these varieties of wheat I speak of are not even genetically modified other than by hybrid breeding. GMO foods are one of the most insidious and awful of the many inroads dark forces have made into our food, and heirloom seeds treasured by the organic farming movement are one way out if these crops can avoid contamination from GM crops. How dare anyone or any company sue farmers for being victimized by stray GM pollution of their crops? The world is truly upside down and soon we will be charged for the air we breathe.

    • Concur. Modern hybrid wheat has been selectively breed for resistance to drought, pesticides, high yielding, rapid maturity, resistant to weather damage, easy to harvest, resistant to mould in storage, and on and on. But what understanding has been reached as to how these rapidly evolved strains react in the human digestive system and suit good health? Little or none.

      I strongly recommend anyone interested in enjoying good health: a slim physic whilst avoiding or curing crones disease, diabetes, heart disease and more study the work of Dr. William Davis author of Wheat Belly – his book which exposed “healthy whole grains” as genetically altered Frankenwheat imposed on the public by agri-cultural geneticists and agribusiness.

      • Thank you. This is just another example of how our world has been – and is being corrupted from within without our knowledge and consent. To our Lords and Masters, we are just so much meat to be exploited, used, and cast aside.

        • The usurpation of the state is the device vital to the dominators. Why allow a system of dominance to exist when there are those who would wish to dominate and who will always gravitate towards seats of power and authority? The answer is simple: the mass believe in the essentialness of the state as a blindly indoctrinated faith equivalent to and indeed surpassing all forms of religious cult known before. The state is considered as if a god: believed to have the legitimate right to powers exceeding that of any men. Those who would have used religion in past ages, (to empower themselves, extract a tithe and control the populous), have now taken that model and created the greatest, most encompassing, religion of all time. And the true occulted deception of all this is that the people do not even realise that what it is that they are subjected to is nothing more than a most dangerous, unnecessary and false indoctrinated cult belief. This is why we must strive to end the false concept of the state.

  • Impending Sky

    Concerning food quality, seeing is believing. Seeing where and how your food is produced will assure you of the quality. Nothing could be more essential than quality food.

    • Supporting local food producers could also pay dividends at times of severe economic strife or food shortage.

  • FreeOregon

    The entire “modern agriculture” system is broken. It’s monoculture. The alternative is polyculture. It depletes nutrients and water from the soil. Polyculture builds soil and increases nutritional density in crops. Polyculture also harvest water and stores it in the soil. Among the many consequences are higher yields achieved without pesticides and fertilizers. Polycultures also tend to be less fossil fuel dependent.

    The challenge is that polycultures are so far out of the present comfort zone few farmers believe they work.

    • Also the state encourages monoculture through agricultural subsidies. The term Polyculture does not even feature in their lexicon.

    • William Scott

      They relate only to periodic “crop rotations,” at best… Afterall, one theoretically cannot use the “truck farming” scalability model with polyculture, let alone permaculture / the “biodynamic” – “organic ” approach… on say hundreds or thousands of acres, with less than 2% of the countries population still working in the fields! (And the LAST thing the PTB want, is for people to become independent, SELF SUFFICIENT, critical thinkers… again!) GO OREGON! (I grew up there…) 🙂 WST

      • FreeOregon

        Google Sepp Holzer and AgroEcology. Sepp’s been doing seminars around the world, in German, for some years. He’s passed the family farm to his son and has his own, younger farm in Austria.

        Holzer’s family farm, Krameterhof, is in the Austrian Alps (also known as the Austrian Siberia) where he even grows healthy lemons at 1500 meters! Of his books, begin with “Desert or Paradise.” The academics discovered him and told him he was “doing permaculture,” a term he prefers not to use.

        He’s become a consultant on over 160 projects worldwide. The largest, which are thousands of hectares, are in Siberia where there are no rules to interfere with common sense. Productivity is orders of magnitude greater than with conventional agriculture and all without herbicides and pesticides. PermaVita, a Holzer offshoot, is working on edible cities with Vienna as a beginning. There are, of course, separate efforts in the US to turn vacant lots in decaying cities into food producing hotspots.

        Sepp is happy to share the bounty with wild animals and does not try to harvest everything. Nutritional density also is much greater than with conventional agriculture.

        His personal vision is to green the world by rehydrating the earth. Instead of draining landscapes as we do with our dams, reservoirs and aquifer depleting wells, he establishes retention basins on the land so water can infiltrate. He uses (food) forests to harvest, store, and distribute water to his polyculture plantings and creates “hugelbeds” again to harvest and store water, provide natural fertility and increase the surface area available for planting.

        He’s always scheming to discover ways for nature to do the work and to minimize his investment of time, labor and money.

        Sepp will tell you “Nature is the real university and it’s an open book.” He’s been observing, thinking, and experimenting from the time he was 4 years old. In a sense he never grew up.

        He’s shown again and again this vision is real even in dry landscapes like Spain and Portugal where “the theory cripples” claimed “it could not be done.” For Sepp “can’t be done” or “not allowed” are meaningless phrases. He’s the most “fined” farmer in Austria because for him Nature makes the rules.

        Geoff Lawton takes a somewhat different approach, but achieves similar results. Geoff posts numerous “how to” videos online.

        Conventional agriculture offers very limited perspectives on Nature and how to work with it. Our conventional paradigms have dumbed down our farmers, everywhere.

        In polyculture you do need to learn what individual plants look like at different stages since you don’t have a monoculture field. You do need to learn and to think. You do need to recognize growing cycles to know how plants vary and change as they cycle through the year. You do need to learn enough to know which plants enhance each other and when to harvest because you get multiple harvests. You do need to be creative in marketing because what you sell is the surplus and nature determines how much and of what. Nothing is the same from year to year.

        Like the best Amish farmers, Sepp feeds the soil because the soil is the plant’s digestive system filled with creepy crawlies communicating with one another just as your own gut flora “talk” back and forth with your brain. On one level even you and I are just colonies of collaborating cells. So too in nature where plants are “upside down,” their “brains” in the soil and their “feet” in the air.

        And yes, people will need to change. That’s coming anyway. What we can do is to surf the wave of change.

        Paradigms are beginning to shift.

        What are the surplus people going to do when robots do most of what we presently call work?

        Most of all, Sepp, Geoff and their followers are enjoying life while showing others there are many ways to live, grow food, raise a family, and be happy.

        • William Scott

          Thanks for sharing… And I’ll forward this to some organic farmers I know, in California and Oregon.
          My Best 🙂 William

        • Taqwa

          Don’t forget Dr. Elaine Ingham of the Soil Food Web She has been one of the few Phd’s in academia putting this message out since the 70’s. She has consulted on small family farms to multi-million dollar farms in the U.S and Africa and Ukraine, and many more, on how to switch to organic practices using only compost and compost tea.

          Like Sepp and Bill Mollison her focus is on the diversity of soil and feeding the soil.

          Having watched everything on Sepp and Mollison/Holmgren/Lawton( I took a PDC course from Lawton) I feel Dr. Ingham has been extremely informative even for those who are ‘organic’ farmers and I highly recommend watching this video Ingham Common Ground 2012 It’s long and the audio is not always good, but very well worth it.

          She has traveled the world teaching people and empowering them on how to study their soil using a cheap microscope and increase the soil life through compost and compost tea alone. No fertilizers needed, not even organic ones. She brings an excellent scientific approach to the ancient wisdom. She observes nature and tries to harmonize our interaction with it instead of control it.

          Here is another TED video with Mike McGrath supporting and explaining the same things as Dr Ingham in a much shorter video Everything You Know About Composting is Wrong

          • FreeOregon

            Thank you. There’s so much to learn and to share.

            As the world around us comes apart, people with a clear vision create their own path to a new future.

        • Taqwa

          And one more that is amazing to watch, the Loess Plateau Project in China. It is a big government project so I know it’s not a good model for how to do things, but, it is fascinating from a purely ‘technical’ standpoint of what can be done using just people and minimal tools. The transformation from nearly desert to lush hillsides is amazing on such a grand scale. Lessons of the Loess Plateau

  • Lyn Morris

    We’ll bet on organic farming. As a trend, it seems a “keeper.” –

    Definitely agree…it is a keeper! Thanks for a terrific report DB.

  • Wrusssr

    Timely and well done, DB.

    In 2011, Syngenta sued Bunge North America, a grain elevator firm, for postingsigns announcing it would not accept its Viptera corn. Syngenta’s request that Bunge remove the signs was denied in Federal Court; a rare federal ruling against a GMO seed manufacturer.

    Would the grain elevator firm have posted an identical sign about Monsanto’s corn?

    Maybe,maybe not.

    Monsanto is batting a thousand in court against the 145 farmers they’ve sued after their “investigators”—often without permission–went onto their property and found Monsanto’s GMO plants (or seed) among their non-GMO crops; most brought there by seed drift from GMO fields.

    Monsanto’s predetermined defense—a cutthroat offense—is built around a virtually lawsuit-proof patent infringement arguement.

    Still, Monsanto’s fourth quarter earnings were initially reported down.

    “For the quarter ended Aug. 31, Monsanto initially reported a loss of $156 million, or 31 cents per share, compared with a loss of
    $249 million, or 47 cents per share, in the same period last year.”

    A couple of updates later, Reuters reported the losses were overstated and the company “was looking forward to a robust 2015.” Or words to that effect.

    One cause given for Monsanto’s losses was that farmers were abandoning GMO corn and switching to soybeans. If GMO’s were the reason they were abandoning corn (and not the deflated corn market), they wouldn’t be switching to soybeans because soybeans, like corn, are almost 100% GMO’d; one of the four —soy, rice, maize (corn), and
    wheat—staple foods of the world that Monsanto went after first.

    So was it the Internet and the public that moved Monsanto’s financial needle this year and last?

    Of the world’s major staple foods, only wheat has escaped Monsanto’s GMO monopoly to date. Why the delay?

    Could it be that Monsanto is looking over its shoulder at the multi-million dollar haircut Arkansas rice farmers gave Dow Chemical when its GMO rice showed up in their non-GMO crops, causing foreign customers to slam the door on their international markets?

    Or they’ve noticed seed giant Syngenta is facing billion-dollar class actions in three states, claiming China is rejecting U.S. corn shipments because Syngenta released a genetically altered variety before the crop was approved for export to China.

    Or that Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill have also refused to accept Syngenta’s GMO corn Viptera because “preventing commingling is essentially impossible,” according to the Iowa class action.

    And DuPont has had legal problems with its GMO’s as well.

    More than 60 nations have banned GMO’s or require labeling of foods that contain them. Russia and China are saying “no mas.” Monsanto’s stranglehold on American courts, government regulatory agencies, congress, and its ability to continue to spoon-feed
    the public its idea of unlabeled “future food” doesn’t necessarily hunt internationally.

    World awareness and expensive courtroom decisions have a way getting even an elephant’s attention; especially if their revenues are down.

    • Great links, thanks. Peruvian farmers sued Monsanto and won …

      • William Scott

        Interesting that many US “multinationals” are now LOOSING lawsuits left and right, ABROAD. Perhaps they shouldn’t have embraced “GLOBALism?!” 🙂 I think we’re on a sinking battleship here in North America… Maybe I should also move south and grow hemp and other food stuffs… until AFTER the coming COLLAPSE???

  • m4orgot

    I bet on organic farming every Saturday when I shop one of our several local farmer’s markets. … Thank you DB for your astute perspective and this very encouraging analysis. I’ve shared it with my anti-GMO/pro-organic lists. Another heartening headline yesterday from Natural Society: ”Big Win! Monsanto Reports $156 Million Loss in Q4 as Farmers Abandon GM Crops”. Bravo Russia and China for shutting the door on big biotech and its tainted products. I hope they seize this opportunity to begin developing organic production for the world market.

  • It appears that the millennial generation is not going to put up with GMO food.

    “3DPonics” has a great workaround.

  • Tom

    The gluten sensitivity and allergic reactions are not just related to the wheat variety and the production process, but also to what happens afterwards, before it is served on a plate. Most wheat that ends up in the food industry today, ends up there in the form of bleached white flour, and is then baked into pastries, breads, desserts, pizzas, pasta, etc,etc. Bleached white flour is far cry from the freshly milled flour that was the norm before 20th century industrialization. Not only that, but the way we bake things has also changed. Commercial yeasts did not exists pre 20th century so grains needed to ferment and sour, in order to rise properly during the baking process. The result used to be a highly rich and nutrient dense food, now its a dead pile of simple sugars and various chemical additives.


  • William Scott

    It’s nice to read a POSITIVE TREND again… especially if it COUNTERS (in effect) the utter INSANITY of a chemical warfare company, such as MONSANTO… who brought us such product “innovations” as: Petroleum based fertilizer, Round- up, rBGH, GMOs, Asptame, Saccharin, Polystyrene, PCBs, DDT, Dioxin, Agent Orange… and contributed to developing the ATOMIC BOMBS, during WWII. (Great company to become the MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS in… eh Mr. Gates and Buffet?! Talk about “0” ETHICS!!!) BTW: Monsatan is also stealing LAND FROM those they sue for any excuse they can “litigate…” much like DC routinely does. Without international “public trust,” the dominion of “public trustees” are DOOMED… along with their “private”‘ corporate, counterparts!” WST

    P.S. MONSANTO’S “DC” confliction of business interests / revolving doors: