Monday, June 2, 2014

Monsanto, Localization, and Sustainability

Healthy by Dead Prez, Great song!
I've been wanting to keep these topics fresh in people's minds.

On March 26th, 2014 Obama signed a bill that had a rider attached to it that supposedly makes the Monsanto Corporation and other similar biotech companies untouchable by Litigation in the United States. This bill was written by Senator Roy Blunt who is the Senator that has received the most (over the table) monetary campaign contributions from the Monsanto Corp. 

If you are not familiar with the battle that is currently going on between grassroots activists and GMO producing biotech companies you can learn a lot more here:

There are many people all over the world participating in the movement to ban genetically modified seeds, not only for their effects on the human body but also for the impact that this kind of farming has on the land and the ecosystem that it is part of. I am not going to focus on exactly these damages because there are people a lot smarter than me talking about it all over and with a little bit of research I'm sure you'll find what you need, instead I want to keep the conversation going by asking some questions and raising some of my own opinons and ideas. -----

First of all, I don't believe that there is anything inherently wrong with genetic experimentation for scientific purposes or in biotechnology. I don't think that the problem is that Barack Obama is evil or that the illuminati is using GMO seeds to sacrifice the the human race for our reptilian overlords. Even if any of those things are true, that's not really what I'm talking about at the moment.

Also, I don't believe that this is a "Monsanto" problem or a "GMO" problem at the core.

I think that at the core, this is just one symptom of the current socioeconomic ideology we live under. Profit over People. This is the basic unspoken-mantra on the current neoliberal global order, for more info on what "Neoliberalism" means and how it came about, check out this great article:

If you really want to get deeper into it, I recommend also checking out Noam Chomsky's book "Profit over People."

So I see the problem like this: the current trend is for large companies to grow larger and become more profitable, often times there are "side effects" (aka effects) to this unbridled growth and the questionable ways that it is achieved. In the GMO case, the growth comes from spraying down huge areas with pesticides in order to increase crop yield, manipulating government policy and public perception to minimize awareness of any issues or friction with environmental protections (why they pour so much money into battling the movement for something as straightforward as even labeling GMO's on food packages) and obtaining ownership of seed rights so that other seeds can not be used for agriculture. Side effects include rampant obesity among our population with ever increasing illnesses, a world with quickly depleting ecosystems (ie Bees) and the monopolization of something that everyone needs and not everyone has access to: FOOD!

Now you can scour the internet and find a million arguments and potential problems and whatnot, so I'm not going to bother. I simply want to post what I think the solution, or part of it, is.

If we want to see how these problems are caused and how to attain solutions, we need to zoom out a bit.
The earth is very much a living, breathing organism that is composed of many parts, just like we are. Just like we have toes and skin and a heart the Earth has trees and rivers and Monsanto's. In order to maintain a healthy body, we need to make all of our parts healthy. We need to view the organism as a whole, and not separate parts that can be manipulated however we want. Just like you can't and wouldn't sacrifice all of the muscles in your legs to have really tone abs, it is impossible to sacrifice the balance of one part of Earth in order to increase another part, not in any long term sustainable way.

So if we want a lot of corn and soybeans, growing and consuming them in a way that is destructive to the environment that it came from will never be sustainable. Just like if you want to have a healthy body, you can't sacrifice sleep every day so that you have more time to go to the gym. The thing is, all of these natural processes are connected, just like every being on this planet is connected. The entire universe is based on this idea of cosmic balance otherwise the moon would have flown off orbit billions of years ago. Just like the planets stay in their orbits based on the path of the sun and all other cosmic bodies. You simply cannot take out one part and expect the balance to be the same. It's like we are billions of organisms that are playing tug of war and we reached a point where everything is balanced and we are all supported by the strength of eachother pulling. Just like in tug of war, if one side lets go, all the sides fall down.

All too often though, we think of our problems, our bodies, and our planet in terms of 2 dimensions. Feeling sad? You must be depressed. Here's a happy pill. Now your happy! No more sad! Problem solved?

Because the atmosphere that we contain inside of ourselves is just like the earth's. We are always getting messages from nature as well as from inside of ourselves. Cut down too many trees in the right place and you start the process of desertification (the Sahara Dessert didn't even exist until around 2000 years ago!). If you eat a bunch of acidic, greasy processed food that is tough for your body to digest properly, your going to have heart burn and fart all day (farts have totally existed for more than 2000 years btw). Now if one observes the cycles of nature in and outside of ourselves we can see where and why these problems arise. There is no pill to reverse the effects of Mcdonalds if that's what you eat everyday and every cell in your body is composed of Big Macs.

I've even had a Dakotah Medicine man explain to me that by watching the cycle of which plants sprout in abundance every year, he knows what kind of illnesses will be prevalent based on the counterbalance of the medicinal properties of those plants.
So when he sees a lot of a certain plant pop up that is known to help with liver functionality, he checks medical records of the area months later and sees a direct a rise in liver disease that season! Good thing is that since this knowledge is passed down to him, he has already cultivated the medicine from that plant. Now, these are ancient practices that indigenous people around the world have only been doing for thousands and thousands of years, so I can understand how a VERY rational person would much prefer to take the statistics from a study done by a pharmaceutical company within the last five years about it's own product that it is marketing. I have a special place in my heart for these VERY rational people.

What we need is holistic and sustainable thinking from our leaders as well as the common citizen of the world. I think that every day more people are adapting to this kind of world view and starting to see that balance. I've seen more community gardens pop up than ever before, more and more of my friends and family members are adapting vegetarian, vegan and organic lifestyles. Everyone from OG hip hop heads like the guys from Dead Prez and Styles P (who owns a Juice shop in NY and promotes healthy living on the daily) to the white-affluent college students that are normally known for their disengagement with things other than keg stands are starting to adapt to these "new ways" of living.

The rise of farmer's markets, community gardens, and activism organizations are all signs of increasing localization. Localization is good for communities because it encourages inward growth and outward development. It brings people closer together, brings fresher produce to our tables, and keeps the currency and energy circulating among the people shaking hands and exchanging broccoli.
What we have in most of America today is almost a completely delocalized economy that is based on giant mega corporations selling products created by other mega corporations and being transported around by even more mega corporations. Now, I don't think that there is anything inherently wrong with a corporation, but with the middle class dwindling, the pay gap between CEO and employee larger than ever, and an unbelievably high use of oil to transport all of these bastardized chemical filled products, it's not hard to see why we may need a bit more localization to ever reach sustainability.

Alright so you ready for the cherry on top?
If the earth is like a body, and our bodies and minds completely connected just as we are to the earth, as we adopt better practices of living we strengthen the whole cycle. If the food that you put inside of you strengthens the earth, strengthens your body and in turn strengthens your mind then every part of the cycle gets better. When you put love into the soil and the food you cultivate and consume, it is magnified and brought back to you. So we all get happier, healthier, stronger, wiser, we live longer, we have more free time, we have more nature, more trees are breathing out more oxygen and we return to a more balanced state of life and of mind.

So you feeling sad? Want a happy Pill? Plant a Garden!


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