June 4th, 2021 Newsletter

The merging of corporate and government hegemony

#JustAsk about pork provenance when dining out

As 90% of Britons want factory farms to be banned, let’s make sure low welfare pork stays off the menu. #JustAsk if the restaurant’s pork comes from a high welfare UK farm. Let’s show pubs & restaurants that we DO know the difference! Please watch, like and share our wacky video to help this message reach a wider audience.

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The merging of corporate and government hegemony

Many Brexiteers based their vote on the status of Switzerland being outside the EU and so can ostensibly dictate its own rules and protect its producers from substandard EU and global imports. An important element of that freedom is people power though direct democracy. While the Swiss parliament passes new legislation and amendments to existing legislation, citizens can call for a referendum on new laws and against certain international treaties. This right to request a referendum allowed people in Switzerland to vote in a ban on cultivating GM crops in all 26 cantons/states.

While one in six Swiss farms have organic certification, Switzerland is the home to mega agrochemical corporation, Syngenta, now owned by ChemChin, who generate $50 billion per year selling their killer pesticides across the globe. To defeat the proposed referendum to ban all pesticides in Switzerland, Syngenta is twisting the truth and using devious tactics to protect its profits. Global agrochemical firms are inevitably keen not just to keep Switzerland as a market for their products, but to avoid setting an example to the rest of the world by becoming the first country to ban all pesticides.

There is ample evidence from across Europe and beyond, of the dark arts the pesticide industry and its PR operatives have employed to generate “grassroots” farmers’ campaigns in defence of the industry’s products. If the recommended ban wins, it will be phased in, and import controls will prevent Swiss farmers being undercut by lower-standard farm imports. However, Syngenta’s propaganda machine has misled many farmers into believing the ban on pesticides is a direct threat to their existence. As a consequence, farmers are up in arms and targeting their anger against those that want to ban pesticides through the impending referendum.

As written in GM Watch; ‘In the run-up to a June 13 referendum in which voters will decide whether to support two measures that crack down on pesticide use in Switzerland, leading supporters of the two proposals have been on the receiving end of not just an avalanche of abuse, but even death threats.

As a result, Céline Vara, a lawyer and Green Party politician who helped initiate the proposal for a ban on synthetic pesticides, is now under police protection. Franziska Herren, who initiated a clean drinking water initiative, which, if passed, would stop farmers who use pesticides from claiming state subsidies, has also received death threats.

Through the infinite power of money to employ the very best lobbyists, lawyers and liars (PR companies), giant corporations are ruling the world, dictating the rules of the game through their stooge politicians in government and directly or indirectly threatening, sickening and killing people and biodiversity.

Again, as reported in GM Watch; ‘US litigation has recently resulted in the release of hundreds of secret Syngenta documents – the so-called Paraquat Papers – that show how the Swiss agrochemical giant used manipulated data, and “safety” measures it knew were ineffective, to keep its highly toxic weedkiller on the market – despite thousands of deaths.

The Basel-based giant is also at the centre of a just-published paper about the blowback it orchestrated against critics of another of its herbicides – atrazine. Syngenta’s principal target for bullying was UC Berkeley’s Tyrone Hayes, whose research showed atrazine caused male frogs to become hermaphrodites. The African American endocrinologist says a Syngenta scientist even threatened to “have me lynched” and “threatened my wife and my daughter with sexual violence”. And this was just one part of a systematic company campaign aimed at intimidating and discrediting Hayes for highlighting concerns about Syngenta’s popular weedkiller.

But even these attacks pale beside the 2018 verdict of a Brazilian court that Syngenta was liable for the murder of a landless workers’ leader, Valmir “Keno” Mota de Oliveira, and the attempted murder of a small farmer, Isabel Nascimento de Souza, who were protesting against Syngenta’s involvement in illegal research.’

When this amount of power and money goes to influence a Swiss referendum, it is hardly surprising that in 2018 voters rejected two schemes linked to boosting local farming and promoting more ethical and environmental standards in food production, as well as protection for Swiss farmers against cheap food imports, as fears were stoked up about the cost hikes and reduced consumer choice.

Corporate fascism

Although many Brexit voters hoped that leaving the EU would result in direct democracy, the trade deals currently in negotiation prove that our neo liberal Tory Government is taking us toward corporate fascism. Benito Mussolini, the Italian fascist dictator said; “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” If Trade Minister Greg Hands gets his way with the Australia/UK trade deal, it will include the infamous investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) scheme that allows corporations to sue governments in secret courts if they believe that a policy has deprived them of real or potential profits.

Recent ISDS cases brought against governments include Swedish energy firm Vattenfall suing Germany for policies that cut water pollution, US drugs giant Eli Lilly suing Canada for trying to reduce medicine prices and French multinational Veolia suing Egypt for increasing its national minimum wage.

On the potential to hand such powers to corporations, Shadow trade minister Emily Thornberry said: “It would be deeply worrying if the government is using the very first post-Brexit trade agreement written from scratch to hand major corporations power to challenge regulations that affect their profits, restricting our ability as a country to introduce new laws to protect the environment, public health, and the rights of workers and consumers”.

Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice Now, said

“…the Australian company behind a planned coal mine in Cumbria could sue the government for halting or delaying the project for environmental reasons…Right now, the Dutch government is being sued in these courts for daring to phase out coal power, so we know fossil fuel companies won’t hold back,”

“Greg Hands confirmed our worst fears – that, just as most countries are moving away from the toxic corporate court system, the British government wants to turbocharge it.

“These courts would allow Australian companies to extract eye-watering payouts from the government for taking action on anything from climate change to workers’ rights, tying the hands of governments for a generation or more.”

Nick Crook, head of international relations at Unison, said: “Australia already knows what ISDS means. Tobacco giant Philip Morris tried to sue Australia after it sought to pass plain packaging legislation to protect public health. Although Australia eventually won it cost the Australian taxpayer A$24m fighting the case in private investment tribunals.”

Legal action against factory farming

While corporations have been consolidating their unelected power through lobbying and fake science, an action group of volunteers called Scrap Factory Farming has launched a legal action against the UK government, and on 1st June, served legal papers on DEFRA, in a bid to end factory farming in the UK to prevent further pandemics and the spread of incurable antibiotic-resistant diseases.

Jane Tredgett, former board member of the RSPCA and member of the action group behind the challenge said,

‘After a year and a half of planning and researching, we have now commenced judicial review proceedings against the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in relation to the failure to address risks to human health and life from intensive farming practices.’

Their press release says, ‘the campaigners are calling for the UK government to lead the way and urgently phase out animal factory farming by 2025, starting with an immediate ban on factory farm planning applications and support for farmers in their transition to a sustainable food system that protects animals, people, and the planet.

Actor Jerome Flynn, an ambassador to the campaign, said “It is starkly clear to me that there cannot be a future for mankind in a world where factory farms still exist. This is our time now to put things right”’

Dr Alice Brough, pig veterinarian and co-claimant to the legal challenge, said,

“Having worked for several years in one of the UK’s most intensive livestock sectors, I have seen the problems with factory farming first-hand. The systems can be extremely stressful, unhygienic and inappropriate for animals’ needs. Disease is rife, including those with pandemic potential, and excessive antibiotic use inevitable. This overuse contributes to antibiotic resistance which is already causing 700,000 human deaths globally each year; by 2050, this number is forecast by the World Health Organisation to reach 10 million if we continue on our current path. This challenge is vital to address some of the most pressing issues faced by humanity today, focussing on prevention rather than waiting for disaster to strike before responding.”

Global meat supply chain hacked!

The global meat chain, with its monopolisation and centralisation that are the inevitable results of corporate capitalism and the political control it exerts, has hit the buffers this week after hackers attacked JBS, the world’s biggest meat supplier. The company has had to suspend processing in Canada and Australia, causing backlogs of carcasses and live animals, leading to more problems for farmers who are forced to keep feeding animals that would normally have left the farm for processing.

Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior Department of Homeland Security official, told USA Today that the attacks on an oil pipeline and then a meat supplier ‘shows that nothing is safe.’

‘Not the meatpacking industry, not the chemical industry, not the wastewater treatment industry, not Sony. Nothing,’ he said.

‘And the only way to be safe in this world is to unplug completely. And you can’t do that and be economically competitive’

Once again, as with Covid, the centralised, global food chain run by a few huge conglomerates shows itself vulnerable to unexpected events that bring down the whole system, where workers, farmers and suppliers suffer while the company is unscathed except for a minor reduction in shareholders’ dividends.

Return to the local and regional economy

The answer is a mixture between a hyperlocal and a regional food supply as described in this weeks WikiLeaks;

‘”Hyperlocal is a really good place to get to if we can get there, with a bit of a regional buffer built in. It would lead to enhanced food sovereignty and food security, not increased vulnerability,” comments Shelton, who argues that making food supply chains more local results in simpler distribution, lower transport costs, less food waste and no need for plastic packaging. “We’re dealing with food metres not food miles,” he adds.

News round-up

? Survey data shows that the UK public believes food imports should meet its high domestic standards.

‘Nearly eight in ten Brits believe that imported food should meet the same animal welfare and environmental standards as food produced in the UK according to a new ComRes survey.’

? The NFU has outlined five key questions the UK government needs to urgently answer regarding its future trade policy and the ongoing negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia

‘“We continue to maintain that a tariff-free trade deal with Australia will jeopardise our own farming industry and could cause the demise of many, many beef and sheep farms throughout the UK. This is true whether tariffs are dropped immediately or in 15 years’ time..’

? U.K. set to loosen rules for gene-edited crops and animals

‘The government decision on gene editing, which will come from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), will not apply outside England. Other parts of the United Kingdom—Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—regulate GMOs themselves and are skeptical of their value. And opponents to GM liberalization say Defra is moving too fast. They worry, for example, that animals and crops modified to resist disease could promote environmentally damaging intensive farming practices.’

?? The EU pushes ahead with ending the cage age for pigs, while the UK lags behind.

‘On Friday 21 May, MEPs explained that alternatives to cage farming existed and were being successfully implemented in a number of member states… But the NPA [National Pig Association] said that its position was that the UK ‘does not need a ban’ and that a voluntary transition would be ‘far less destructive’.

? Mega dairy farms USA killing off small farms.

‘A collapse in the number of dairy farmers in states such as Minnesota is destroying livelihoods and hollowing out rural life’

? WATCH: This BBC documentary on unhealthy ultra processed foods; ‘What Are We Feeding Our Kids?

Please donate

Forgive me for pointing out that, while we receive some one-off donations, I am funding Farms Not Factories myself, and if we are to continue to fight the cruel, antibiotic-led factory farm system, we will need some regular donations from like-minded people. Please consider a monthly subscription of £2/month and help us support a network of smaller scale, humane and healthy UK pig farms, local abattoirs and butchers.

“Our message is simple, we want to help bring an end to this dangerous, inhumane system. Vote for real farming over factory farming.”
– Tracy Worcester, Director

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