Spring 18 Discussion Board

Please feel free to share any reflections, ideas, or resources based on our dialogue this season. This discussion board is also a site for sharing relevant dreams, visions, observations, etc.

8 thoughts on “Spring 18 Discussion Board

  1. JJ Kuo says:

    Good evening Group,

    I watched the movie. I was horrified. What most outrages me is how Monsanto and capitalism impacts the most worlds most vulnerable. While it is awful to see the negative impacts of capitalism right here in the USA. It’s heartbreaking to see how our *way of life* so oppresses and violates those in other parts of the world. The USA was founded on capitalism, there’s was not. And yet these peoples have such little say in how an insidious, bad idea from a far reaks havoc on all aspects of their everyday lives. Colonialism reigns on.

    As I shared last week, up until last week my brother worked for Monsanto as a software engineer. He starts with Lyft next week. He had previously programmed software that tried to better predict weather day used by farmers. That company was bought by Monsanto in 2013. I emailed my brother and asked him what he thought of the documentary. He’s a registered Democrat living in Seattle with his wife and twin four year old daughters.

    I have not expectations that anyone will want to look at his responses. Just including if your curious.

    – JJ


    I breezed through the video.

    Summary – Monsanto is just another big American company. They do big company stuff like lobbying, defending their IP, etc. I found them to be a good employer (they rate highly in terms a women and LGBT friendly employer). They made a business of monetizing biotech and are on the correct side of science most of the time.

    Points –

    Roundup (glyphosate) has replaced many more toxic herbicides since the introduction of GMO Roundup Ready crops. What these activists and studies never cover is the overall context. They never look at the toxicity, quantity, etc compared to the herbicides glyphosate replaces. Example https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/05/12/477793556/as-big-candy-ditches-gmos-sugar-beet-farmers-hit-sour-patch, read last third of article

    Glyphosate has been off patent since 2001, many farmers use non-Monsanto glyphosate.

    Old chemical Monsanto vs new agriculture Monsanto. It’s somewhat complex
    but ultimately the old chemical Monsanto was spun out a while back (early 2000s?) So all this talk of Agent Orange, PCBs is from the old chemical Monsanto, which is pretty much unrelated to today’s ag MON.

    A top level MON executive was telling us (casually) that they had something like 9 months notice that the agriculture division was being broken out, and that they kept  the Monsanto name because of the cost of rebranding, which he has since regretted.

    Agent Orange was a invention by the US government. MON was just one of many contractors that produced it. https://www.dow.com/en-us/about-dow/issues-and-challenges/agent-orange

    Herbicide resistance is not unique to GMOs. BASF Clearfield’s wheat, rice and sunflowers are all non-GMOs that have been bred to be resistant to the herbicide imazamox.

    Mutation breeding (considered non-GMO) is never mentioned but it involves blasting plants with radiation to induce random mutations. It’s far less precise and undergoes much less of the testing GMOs and “introduces foreign genes”. Ruby red grapefruit and Calrose rice are two famous examples. Mutation bred crops are found in organic agriculture.

    Jeffrey Smith has no science background. He’s a former yoga instructor that turned to GMO activism as his new profession. He’s basically a quack.

    Vandana Shiva hates GMOs and American capitalism. She’s authored the notion that the false promise of GMOs have led to thousands of India farmer suicides, which is pretty much false (no statical correlation).

    In the US at least, plant patents last for 20 years. Non-GMOs can be patented too (such as the Honeycrisp apple, Hass avocado). Monsanto’s first gen Roundup Ready soy went off patent in 2015 is being made open by the University of Arkansas (search Google for article).

    You’ll often hear that counties like China and Russia doesn’t want GMOs but that’s only because they haven’t ramped up their own biotech expertise. China has been caught stealing US biotech crop seeds
    * https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kansas-court-china/chinese-scientist-gets-10-years-in-u-s-prison-over-theft-of-gmo-rice-idUSKCN1HB36A
    * https://newrepublic.com/article/122441/corn-wars (excellent article)

    rBST (synthetically manufactured milk producing hormone BST) is just an extension of factory farming. Yes it is an issue but no where of the conspiracy level that the movie makes it out to be.

    What actually in a Monsanto technology agreement http://thefarmerslife.com/whats-in-a-monsanto-contract/

    Seed saving is not as common as it use to be. See “hybrid vigor”, hybrid corn (developed in the 1930s) can’t be saved. Actually it can be saved but the offspring isn’t as good. No one made a stink about it then, yet activists complain today that GMOs can’t be saved. Farmers usually buy new seeds because of crop rotation and different varieties.

    Troy Roush – looks like Monsanto messed up and then backed off once they realized it

    GMO safety:
    * Look for articles, video by Pamela Ronald (UC Davis) and Kevin Folta (U of Florida)
    * https://gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/climateGMO1page.jpg (warning, this is compiled by a pro-GMO site)
    * https://gmoanswers.com/, industry sponsored but they back up their answers

  2. JJ says:

    I enjoyed Soul Food Junkies – from the detailed history of soul food to the dire impacts including diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.

    What I was most touched by was the way family and community came together to share food and soul. It appears to me that soul food is not just about comfort food but also about a nourishing culture. And so we can both health-ify our food choices and cultivate more loving relationships too.

  3. JJ says:

    Thank you so much for recommending this heart wrenching film.

    I only finished it about an hour ago. It was very painful to watch and still very much alive in me. It lead to a deep connecting conversation with Tiarra Knox (from Wednesday night Liberation Spring).

    I have more to digest on the film and look forward to sharing more the next time I attend class.

  4. First Voice Media says:

    Hi folks! It’s Cat, apparently logged in as a radio apprentice at the moment.
    Just wanted to share a few resources:
    1) Per the end of our Wed dialogue about mamas and babies, this 28 min episode of Making Contact called “Mothering: Love on the Frontlines”: https://www.radioproject.org/2018/05/special-mothers-day-mothering-love-front-lines/
    It’s not directly about food or nonhuman animals at all. But it’s beautiful and tough and potent.
    2) I mentioned this a while back on a Wed night. It’s a 52 min episode of Your Call with Rose Aguilar called “Saving the Planet One Bite at a Time.” It definitely warrants critique as being hyper-individualistic and capitalist. But it does also provide some meaningful facts and figures. Also, I find it really helpful to listen to how other folks who aren’t explicitly confronting colonialism and speciesism are having these dialogues. To be better able to engage these convos.

  5. Cat says:


    I’m on an airplane!

    I had no idea Julia Roberts had a body double in Pretty Woman. I wonder what that was like for her? I wonder what thoughts arose in the process of -presumably being forced to- consent to this. Of course this is normative practice in Hollywood and the ad industry. It’s so fucked.

    I appreciated Jean Kilbourne’s comments about the way harmful practices like binge eating are normalized. Made me think of binge watching Netflix.

    I remember that add at min 22 – a full page in a teen magazine, Seventeen perhaps. There was a list of body parts to circle where you would want fat reduced or eliminated altogether. I circled. I cringe thinking about it now. I used to look in the mirror and diagnose all that was “wrong” with my body. Now, when I feel that critic creeping on, I either look away or practice saying kind things to myself. I also name those thoughts as lies and actively banish that monster from my consciousness. Politicizing this self-obsession and thin-obsession has been monumentally healing. So has having friends who help spot the lies as they start to come out of my mouth. I remember one visit from Grace when I was having a low moment – we tossed all this shit out, threw it down on the floor, and crushed it – energetically, if you will. “You’re not real! You’re not the boss of me! Fuck you! Lies!” That kind of thing. Getting mad and having miraculous people around me who can see through the bullshit has also been healing.

    Frankly, also, the way that body dysmorphia is enmeshed in the hyper-individualism in this white supremacist, cis hetero patriarchal, capitalist, imperialist, ableist culture now repulses me. How dare you steal my imagination and turn it against me!? How dare you narrow my focus in such deadly, diseased ways.

    There is a lack of cultural production on this. In particular, it seems, production that centers WOC embodied experiences and reflections on this topic. I wish I could hear all your thoughts on this.

    I’m grateful she brought up the youth. Girls I babysat used to mirror their mom’s obsession with weight. I could spot their esteem diminishing as early as age 7 or 8. This is one reason Pink Panther Sorority, Inc. is so vital. And – how can we continue to encourage young girl-identified folk to not only love on their bodies, but understand worth, power, pleasure, and value drastically differently?

    Sending love and hugs to you all in class tonight.
    And new moon (in Gemini) blessings!

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