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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Rebelión review: transgenics, oil, WTO and the dirty secrets of the King

Spanish language counter-info site
Rebelión is always worth a good read. But guess most of my readers are not fluent in this language and that's actually a very good reason to abstract some of their articles in Leherensuge. Right now there are four items that specially called my attention:

1. Interview with Marie-Monique Robin, author of the best-selling book "The world according to Monsanto", focused on Argentine agriculture.

(...) Nowadays the [transgenic soy] production uses 18 million hectareas. What does this mean? Just one thing: increase of monocultive. It is a fact that, for me is, unquestionable and confirms what I had already noticed in another visit I three years ago. The sentence: 'A people that is dedicated to monocultive is comintting suicide' is patent in this case. What we have to understand is that the expansion of transgenic soy is detrimental for small and middle farmers, who are forced to abandon food production for the people. First, because the seeds provided by Monsanto multinational known as Roundup Ready (RR Soy), are fumigated with the herbicide Roundup, causing the rest of the lands to become polluted, because it is a very volatile herbicide. That means that the small farmers must abandon their farms because their crops are simply destroyed by the herbicide. The soy itself causes severe health problems, and this has been confirmed by a report of the Italian Hospital of Rosario. But it also becomes a horrible social problem. Not regulating the production of transgenic soy is giving the key of national agriculture to investors that have nothing to do with farming.


What is the so-called 'substance equivalence principle', adopted by Argentina?

This principle, intially accepted by the USA, has no scienfic basis to validate it. Nevertheless, by impeding that the GMOs are considered as food additives, the biotechnological companies could avoid toxicological tests and prescind of special tagging of their products. This decission, that allowed to commercialize the GMOs without any evaluation, was accepted also in Argentina. Thanks to these lies, the GMOs arrived to the country and from it invaded Brazil and Paraguay, where they were not authorized. As Brazil did not accept the transgenics, Monsanto set its headquarter in Menem's Argentina and from it elaborated its strategy that ended up polluting a good deal of South America.


In Argentina the media do not mention that Monsanto has been declared guilty in the USA and France for false publicity, that they have not anymore the right to claim that their products do not affect the enviroment. I have confirmed in several countries the modus operandi of Monsanto: they bribe... In the book and the film it is demonstrated that there were scientists that were bribed for more than 20 years to tell lies. Now we know that Roundup causes cancer. It is clear that it will be forbidden eventually, as happened with so many other Monsanto products in the past (PCBs, dioxines, among others), which polluted the planet for forty years and were finally forbidden. Roundup is extremely toxic, in Argentina more than half of the croplands are sprinkled with a product that is not biodegradable, that reaches the freatic layers, that pollutes the soil. At the present rythm, the soil will become useless in the mid-term. (...) When an Argentine mother gives soy milk to her children, she is giving them a product contaminated with a toxic product.


What Monsanto is interested in is in selling Roundup and keep the patents on the seeds to later demand rolaties from other peoples' production. Today in countries like India, there are only trasgenic seeds. Monsanto bought all seed producing companies and farmers must pay royalties to Monsanto every time they use their GM seeds. Otherwise they send the police in. It is a perfect business. The same has been attempted by Monsanto in Argentina. irs claimed they would not demand royalties but in 2005 they changed their discourse by that one of: either you pay us or we are heading for a major conflict.


2. Tom Kuchard of Ecologistas en Acción writes on the WTO new failure: WTO is not the solution but the problem.

It is excellent news those of the failure of the of the last (exclussive, anti-democratic and illegiimate) meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The antiglobalization movement s pleased that it has been blocked by the moment a new liberalization of world trade.

He claims that the WTO goals can only favor the northern powers like the USA and EU. While some southern countries could also gain something from cheaper exports to the north, they would lose huge income in import taxes that they need desperately for public spending in key issues such as healthcare and education. Besides there has been no evaluation on how free imports would affect the local labor, probably just dumped into poverty and job unstability by decissions they cannot influence.

We face masive global crisis affecting food, energy, the financial system and the consequences of global warming, that intensify each other reciprocally. The commerce model promoted by the WTO deepens the crisis even more. The inability to end with hunger is another evidence of the failure after three decades of deregulation of agricultural markets. Neither the WTO nor other free trade treaties, bilateral or regional, that are being negoiated at this time, will be able to solve the food crisis, because the trade liberalization has eroded the ability of the nations to feed themselves.

He puts a lot of blame in the European Union because the agreements it is promoting further international competition without any sort of guarantee, creating new and greater conflicts only. He also accuses EU of ignoring the danger of global warming and doing nothing of value to stop the Earth from warming more than 2ºC. He argues that the global trade (ignored in carbon emissions "contability") is the main causant of global warming, that EU is doing nothing to supress the imports of products such as soy or palm oil, grown on deforested areas, in spite of deforestation being one of the main sources of hothouse-causing C02 emissions.

3. Herberto López Blanch writes on the threat of privatization of PEMEX, the Mexican public oil company.

He mentions that referenda in 9 states and the federal district sent a very clear message to Congress: 86% voted against allowing the private sector to participate in pertroleum extraction, refining, transport, distribution and storage; 84% rejected the approval of the privatization laws that are being debated now in the federal Congress. Andrés López Obrador (arguably the democratically elected President of Mexico, as the last elections are mostly considered massively rigged) declared: 'They have privatized more than one thousand major public companies, among them Teléfonos de México, national railroads, ports, airports, mines, banks, they are giving away the national electric industry and now what they ambition most is to grab the national oil wealth and that cannot be allowed'.

Privatization has been pentrating the Mexican economy even before the FTA was signed and the conservative PAN took power in 2000. The extremely controversial US company Haliburton, formerly with Dick Cheney as CEO, alone has already achieved drilling rights in more than 170 locations valued in some 4,000 million dollars.

Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution expressly forbids giving away concessions or contracts for the extraction of petroleum or radioactive minerals. Mexican oil was nationalized in 1938.

4. Former colonel denounces publically the dark business of the King of Spain.

Amadeo Martínez Inglés, who was colonel of the Spanish Army until he fell off with the government in the early 90s, has written a public letter to the President of the Cortes (parliament) denouncing the chief of state King Juan Carlos I for the follwing issues:
  1. Participation in the military coup of February 13 1981, a wll known but seldom discussed affair, where he worked in collaboration with many politicians and high level generals in a strange maneouvre that they eventually abandoned when one of the involved soldiers, litutenant-colonel Tejero decided to go on his own.
  2. Participation in the creation of the death-squads known as Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación (GAL), who were responsible of the murder (and sometimes kidnappng and tortures) of many Basque citizens in the 80s and early 90s.
  3. Acquiring private wealth in an exaggerated and illegal manner, making his family one of the wealtiest in Europe and the World and recieving many millionaire bribes for obscure favors, benefitting ilegally of his statute and immunity before the law. The wealth of the Spanish royal family reaches the 1790 million euros, according to several foreing publications (in Spain this issueis taboo)
  4. Being systematically corrupt, accepting all sorts of bribes.
  5. Channeling millions from the reserved state funds for his many romances and also paying off extortions from some of them. (Popular wisdom knows well that the king is a drunkard and a whore-goer but nothing of this is ever discussed in the mainstream media).
  6. A possible murder. In March 1956 he killed in very dark circumstances never really investigated his younger brother Alfonso, then 14, who apparently enjoyed the favors of his father who was against Franco and disliked the submission of prince Juan Carlos to the dictator. The fascist authorities then ruling Spain made everything possible to make that appear as an accident.
In the last paragraphs, after asking the parliament to demand the king to answer for these charges, he threates to go to international instances, claiming that it would be incongruent that the Spanish judiciary can judge foreign chiefs of state and that the chief of state of Spain is instead immune to prosecution.

He finishes with the following remark: Spain cannot have anymore a in the post of chief of state a person of such awful moral stature, confessed manslaughterer, presumpt murderer, and also, presumptly by the moment as well, conspirator in military coup, corrupt and terrorist.


terryt said...

Thanks for that post Maju. They're all problems here as well but of course we don't have access to articles written in Spanish. It's always great to get another perspective. Keep up the good work.

Maju said...

Glad you liked it.