Monday, October 21, 2013

The 10 Companies Controlling the World’s Seed Supply

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You’ve likely already heard of Monsanto due to the reporting of alternative news sites like NationofChange.com, but did you know that there are just ten big corporations that are controlling the entire world’s seed supply? The top three control almost 50 percent of all seeds. These companies’ profiteering account for trillions in seed patents, fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide sales and they aren’t going to loosen their iron-grip on our food supply without a fight.

These companies have been monopolizing our food for over three decades now, and taken a birthright—healthy, nutritious and delicious food right from our mouths and bellies. The food chain is now dominated by multinational corporations, utilizing intellectual property laws and expensive lawyers to commodify plant genes and budging farmers’ rights aside by lobbying the governments both locally and throughout the world.

Their plan is to patent every seed with biotechnology. They are trying to own the natural, self-replicating ways of Mother Nature herself. Seeds have been part of public domain for millennia. What gives Big Agriculture and Big Biotech the right to ownership at all?

Together these ten companies own more than 75 percent of all seeds planted on the earth right now.

Here is a list of the evil BIG TEN that can be stopped dead in their tracks if we continue our anti-GMO activism. We just need to remember that farmers and gardeners have been supplying food to our families for thousands of years without biotech interference.

Monsanto – This is the biggest seed-mongering company of them all. They make more than $11.8 billion annually and own approximately 27 percent of all seeds currently used in mono-crop, modern agricultural farming. Based on industry statistics, ETC Groupestimates that Monsanto's biotech seeds and traits (including those licensed to other companies) accounted for 87 percent of the total world area devoted to genetically engineered seeds in 2007. Statistics for their current reach are unavailable. Monsanto has spent more than $6 billion lobbying in just the past year. They have lots of money to throw around to convince lawmakers not to label GMOs and to keep pushing them like street-drugs on future generations.

Dupont (Pioneer) – This U.S. based company makes more than $4 billion annually on seed. They own 17 percent of the market on seeds. This company along with 2 other of the Big Ten, Monsanto and Cargill, spent more than $25 million to defeat the GMO labeling bill recently in the U.S. They are one of the largest chemical companies in the world—not farmers, not agricultural experts—chemical engineers.

Syngenta – This Switzerland-based company is also Monsanto’s biggest overseas competitor. They have 9 percent of market share in seeds, but they recently spent more than $15.4 million lobbying to push GMOs. They are the third largest seed-hoarder in the world.

Groupe Limagrain – A French company is currently the fourth largest seed company in the world. They own 5 percent of the market and enjoy over 1.5 billion euro in sales annually. Sadly, this organization started as a farmer co-op, but has clearly been corrupted by the biotech industry.

Land ‘O Lakes – This American based company just reported a huge boost in earnings from August of this year topping out at 3.9 billion in sales for the quarter and net earnings of 76.9 million annually. This is an increase of 12 percent. Their market share is approximately 4 percent.

KWS AG – This German company owns around 3 percent of the market share on agricultural seed and swims in more than $702 million annually.

Bayer Crop Science – Another German company rounds out the bottom of the top ten list with around 2 percent of market share and around $525 million in annual sales.

The last three companies include two from Japan—Sakata and Takii—with less than 2 percent market share and a company from Denmark—DLF-Trifolium—also with less than 2 percent of market share. All three companies enjoy between $4 and $5 million in sales annually.

ETC Group has also issued a report showing the trend of corporate monopolization of all our major industries, aside fro just seed—from water to mining, and energy to forestry.

“. . .the top 10 multinational seed companies now control 73 percent of the world's commercial seed market, up from 37 percent in 1995 (p. 22). The worlds 10 biggest pesticide firms now control a whopping 90 percent of the global 44 billion dollar pesticide market (p.25). 10 companies control 76 percent of animal pharmaceutical sales (p.34). 10 animal feed companies control 52 percent of the global animal feed market (p.33), 10 chemical firms account for 40 percent of the chemical market (p.11), 10 forestry companies control 40 percent of the forestry market (p. 31), 10 mining companies control a third of the mining market (p. 29) and the top ten energy companies control a quarter of the energy market (p.10).”

Breaking up some of these corporate oligarchies might be the only way to stop the complete disregard for our food supply, maintain sovereignty of our water, any conceivable clean energy and our precious environment. The world’s resources have been made commodities when once they were freely enjoyed by us all.

The Business of America Is War

No wonder our leaders tell us not to worry our little heads about our wars -- just support those troops, go shopping, and keep waving that flag.

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Let’s Get This Class War Started

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“The rich are different from us,” F. Scott Fitzgerald is said to have remarked to Ernest Hemingway, to which Hemingway allegedly replied, “Yes, they have more money.”

The exchange, although it never actually took place, sums up a wisdom Fitzgerald had that eluded Hemingway. The rich are different. The cocoon of wealth and privilege permits the rich to turn those around them into compliant workers, hangers-on, servants, flatterers and sycophants. Wealth breeds, as Fitzgerald illustrated in “The Great Gatsby” and his short story “The Rich Boy,” a class of people for whom human beings are disposable commodities. Colleagues, associates, employees, kitchen staff, servants, gardeners, tutors, personal trainers, even friends and family, bend to the whims of the wealthy or disappear. Once oligarchs achieve unchecked economic and political power, as they have in the United States, the citizens too become disposable.

The public face of the oligarchic class bears little resemblance to the private face. I, like Fitzgerald, was thrown into the embrace of the upper crust when young. I was shipped off as a scholarship student at the age of 10 to an exclusive New England boarding school. I had classmates whose fathers—fathers they rarely saw—arrived at the school in their limousines accompanied by personal photographers (and at times their mistresses), so the press could be fed images of rich and famous men playing the role of good fathers. I spent time in the homes of the ultra-rich and powerful, watching my classmates, who were children, callously order around men and women who worked as their chauffeurs, cooks, nannies and servants. When the sons and daughters of the rich get into serious trouble there are always lawyers, publicists and political personages to protect them—George W. Bush’s life is a case study in the insidious affirmative action for the rich. The rich have a snobbish disdain for the poor—despite well-publicized acts of philanthropy—and the middle class. These lower classes are viewed as uncouth parasites, annoyances that have to be endured, at times placated and always controlled in the quest to amass more power and money. My hatred of authority, along with my loathing for the pretensions, heartlessness and sense of entitlement of the rich, comes from living among the privileged. It was a deeply unpleasant experience. But it exposed me to their insatiable selfishness and hedonism. I learned, as a boy, who were my enemies.

The inability to grasp the pathology of our oligarchic rulers is one of our gravest faults. We have been blinded to the depravity of our ruling elite by the relentless propaganda of public relations firms that work on behalf of corporations and the rich. Compliant politicians, clueless entertainers and our vapid, corporate-funded popular culture, which holds up the rich as leaders to emulate and assures us that through diligence and hard work we can join them, keep us from seeing the truth.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy,” Fitzgerald wrote of the wealthy couple at the center of Gatsby’s life. “They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Aristotle, Niccolò Machiavelli, Alexis de Tocqueville, Adam Smith and Karl Marx all began from the premise there is a natural antagonism between the rich and the masses. “Those who have too much of the goods of fortune, strength, wealth, friends, and the like, are neither willing nor able to submit to authority,” Aristotle wrote in “Politics.” “The evil begins at home; for when they are boys, by reason of the luxury in which they are brought up, they never learn, even at school, the habit of obedience.” Oligarchs, these philosophers knew, are schooled in the mechanisms of manipulation, subtle and overt repression and exploitation to protect their wealth and power at our expense. Foremost among their mechanisms of control is the control of ideas. Ruling elites ensure that the established intellectual class is subservient to an ideology—in this case free market capitalism and globalization—that justifies their greed. “The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships,” Marx wrote, “the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.”

The blanket dissemination of the ideology of free market capitalism through the media and the purging, especially in academia, of critical voices have permitted our oligarchs to orchestrate the largest income inequality gap in the industrialized world. The top 1 percent in the United States own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth while the bottom 80 percent own only 7 percent, as Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote in “The Price of Inequality.” For every dollar that the wealthiest 0.1 percent amassed in 1980 they had an additional $3 in yearly income in 2008, David Cay Johnston explained in the article“9 Things the Rich Don’t Want You to Know About Taxes.” The bottom 90 percent, Johnson said, in the same period added only one cent. Half of the country is now classified as poor or low-income. The real value of the minimum wage has fallen by $2.77 since 1968. Oligarchs do not believe in self-sacrifice for the common good. They never have. They never will. They are the cancer of democracy.

“We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are,” Wendell Berrywrites. “Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all—by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians—be participating in its destruction? Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us. How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing.”

The rise of an oligarchic state offers a nation two routes, according to Aristotle. The impoverished masses either revolt to rectify the imbalance of wealth and power or the oligarchs establish a brutal tyranny to keep the masses forcibly enslaved. We have chosen the second of Aristotle’s options. The slow advances we made in the early 20th century through unions, government regulation, the New Deal, the courts, an alternative press and mass movements have been reversed. The oligarchs are turning us—as they did in the 19th century steel and textile factories—into disposable human beings. They are building the most pervasive security and surveillance apparatus in human history to keep us submissive.

This imbalance would not have disturbed most of our Founding Fathers. The Founding Fathers, largely wealthy slaveholders, feared direct democracy. They rigged our political process to thwart popular rule and protect the property rights of the native aristocracy. The masses were to be kept at bay. The Electoral College, the original power of the states to appoint senators, the disenfranchisement of women, Native Americans, African-Americans and men without property locked most people out of the democratic process at the beginning of the republic. We had to fight for our voice. Hundreds of workers were killed and thousands were wounded in our labor wars. The violence dwarfed the labor battles in any other industrialized nation. The democratic openings we achieved were fought for and paid for with the blood of abolitionists, African-Americans, suffragists, workers and those in the anti-war and civil rights movements. Our radical movements, repressed and ruthlessly dismantled in the name of anti-communism, were the real engines of equality and social justice. The squalor and suffering inflicted on workers by the oligarchic class in the 19th century is mirrored in the present, now that we have been stripped of protection. Dissent is once again a criminal act. The Mellons, Rockefellers and Carnegies at the turn of the last century sought to create a nation of masters and serfs. The modern corporate incarnation of this 19th century oligarchic elite has created a worldwide neofeudalism, where workers across the planet toil in misery while corporate oligarchs amass hundreds of millions in personal wealth.

Class struggle defines most of human history. Marx got this right. The sooner we realize that we are locked in deadly warfare with our ruling, corporate elite, the sooner we will realize that these elites must be overthrown. The corporate oligarchs have now seized all institutional systems of power in the United States. Electoral politics, internal security, the judiciary, our universities, the arts and finance, along with nearly all forms of communication, are in corporate hands. Our democracy, with faux debates between two corporate parties, is meaningless political theater. There is no way within the system to defy the demands of Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry or war profiteers. The only route left to us, as Aristotle knew, is revolt.

It is not a new story. The rich, throughout history, have found ways to subjugate and re-subjugate the masses. And the masses, throughout history, have cyclically awoken to throw off their chains. The ceaseless fight in human societies between the despotic power of the rich and the struggle for justice and equality lies at the heart of Fitzgerald’s novel, which uses the story of Gatsby to carry out a fierce indictment of capitalism. Fitzgerald was reading Oswald Spengler’s “The Decline of the West” as he was writing “The Great Gatsby.” Spengler predicted that, as Western democracies calcified and died, a class of “monied thugs” would replace the traditional political elites. Spengler was right about that. 

“There are only two or three human stories,” Willa Catherwrote, “and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”

The seesaw of history has thrust the oligarchs once again into the sky. We sit humiliated and broken on the ground. It is an old battle. It has been fought over and over in human history. We never seem to learn. It is time to grab our pitchforks.

Radioactivity level spikes 6,500 times at Fukushima well

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Radioactivity levels in a well near a storage tank at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan have risen immensely on Thursday, the plant’s operator has reported.
Officials of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said on Friday they detected 400,000 becquerels per liter of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances - including strontium - at the site, a level 6,500 times higher than readings taken on Wednesday, NHK World reported. 
The storage tank leaked over 300 tons of contaminated water in August, some of which is believed to have found its way into the sea through a ditch. 

The well in question is about 10 meters from the tank and was dug to gauge leakage. 

TEPCO said the findings show that radioactive substances like strontium have reached the groundwater. High levels of tritium, which transfers much easier in water than strontium, had already been detected. 

Officials at TEPCO said they will remove any contaminated soil around the storage tank in an effort to monitor radioactivity levels of the water around the well. 
The news comes after it has been reported a powerful typhoon which swept through Japan led to highly radioactive water near the crippled nuclear power plant being released into a nearby drainage ditch, increasing the risk of it flowing into the sea.
On Wednesday TEPCO said it had detected high levels of radiation in a ditch leading to the Pacific Ocean, and that it suspected heavy rains had lifted contaminated soil.

‘Decades-long problems being faced at Fukushima’

Robert Jacobs, a professor at Hiroshima Peace University, told RT the compounding problems at Fukushima Daiichi underscore one critical reality: no one really knows what to do.
“Nobody really knows how to solve the problems at Fukushima. There is nobody who has solutions. The problems at Fukushima are unprecedented, so even bringing in outside expertise, all that they can try to do is problem solve. There is no solution that other countries have that they can come in and fix the reactors, or rather, shut down the contamination, shut down the leaks.”
Experts believe that even a small earthquake could lead to more serious nuclear damage in the area. 
“They have a thousand tanks that are held together with a plastic pipe, so if there is a moderate earthquake the plastic pipes will fail and all that material will run across the ground surface and into the ocean,” nuclear power expert Arnold Gundersen told RT.
“Facilities themselves, the four reactors that are the most damaged had a series of explosions internally, so it would not take an earthquake as big as the one they had two and a half years ago to potentially do a lot of serious damage there.”
He added that the health risks are great and continue to increase every year. “Somewhere between 100,000 to 1,000,000 [people] will over the next thirty years get cancer from this accident...1,000 additional cancers a year from eating fish from the Pacific.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s open request for advanced knowledge from overseas is a welcome step, as this will bring a higher degree of professionalism than Tepco has demonstrated since the crisis first erupted, Jacobs says. But even though, those experts will be at a loss to solve the immense problems they’ll be facing for decades at Fukushima.    
Even in the one area where Japan could potentially help contain the disaster, the authorities have wavered, Konstantin Simonov from the Moscow-based Fund for Energy Security told RT.
“Fukushima should be treated just like Chernobyl – as a wreck that must be retired and put in a sarcophagus, with radioactive waste slowly and thoroughly utilized. Why does the problem persist at Fukushima? Because they can’t decide whether they want to close it or to keep it going.”
Tokyo Electric Power Company in fact seems reluctant to shut down Fukushima for good. Tepco is in fact pushing to reopen its Kashiwazaki Kariwa facility –  the world's largest nuclear power station –  which itself was shut down in 2007 following  reports of radioactive leaks in the wake of an earthquake.
In September, Japan announced its only operating nuclear reactor had been closed for maintenance, leaving the country with no nuclear power supply for only the second time in four decades.
Atomic power accounted for 30 percent of Japan’s energy needs prior to the Fukushima disaster, and the country was forced to increase fossil fuel imports to make up for the deficit.
As a result, Japan become the world’s largest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), prompting the world’s third-largest-economy to post its first trade deficit since the second oil shock 31 years ago.
Under these circumstances, the crisis gripping Fukushima will not be the only factor in deciding the fate of the country’s nuclear industry.