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Timpsila, Medicine for Tech-No-Logic

Wrench in the Gears

August 7, 2020

By Alison McDowell

 

 

John Trudell, Native American activist and poet, spoke prophetically of a predator energy that mines the “being part of humans.” He called it tech-no-logic. Every January since the early 1970s, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) power brokers have assembled in Davos to plot out the next steps of their planned tech-no-logic coup. We’ve now reached a tipping point with the introduction of “stakeholder capitalism.” It is a vast program of poverty mining meant to transform the masses into human capital data commodities for financial speculation and ubiquitous surveillance. This emerging investment sector runs on poverty and trauma, two things the response to Covid-19 has manufactured in abundance.

We are experiencing the lead up to WEF’s planned transhumanist future. Covid has paved the way for a reset meant to usher in their Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is a revolution in which artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, 5G, robotics, and synthetic biology threaten to consume humanity. We’re on the brink of normalizing biocapitalism – humans and nature as batteries for financial markets. Picture derivatives mixed with bioengineered eugenics, deceptively sold to the public under the brand of “green” capitalism. The plan is to channel the concentrated wealth of the world’s largest asset holders through structured deals aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Pull back the curtain and see a program unthinkingly embraced by so many progressives and liberals exposed for what it is – not climate justice and not liberation of the poor and dispossessed, but instead an orgy of mechanistic spirit eating.

“What Is The Fourth Industrial Revolution?”

The next phase of Davos’s mining program involves deploying nano-tech human computer interfaces at the population level to begin to meld us into a single hive mind. This technology will be packaged as cutting-edge therapeutics meant to keep us “safe and healthy.” Liability waivers will be put in place to ensure the companies developing such abominations, in coordination with DARPA’s mad scientists, are never held responsible for the harm they cause. I anticipate “personalized medicine” and “preventative care” in the form of a series of mRNA vaccines will be mandated to harness humanity to Bill Gates’s “software of life.”

mRNA Software Of Life Moderna

 

Moderna Gates

 

The Harvard Business Review asserts this global campaign must be rolled out “equitably.” Satellites are poised to track Black and Brown bodies from space and compel the full vaccination coverage needed to carry out these malevolent intentions. Look up Microsoft’s planetary computer. The oligarchs speak of a world where “no one is left behind.” Everyone tagged and tracked into the Internet of Humans master database, domesticated livestock with no autonomy whose life force is sucked dry to satisfy the unrelenting greed of predator energy. GAVI’s vaccines, which are being integrated into digital identity systems, may very well push humanity across the threshold into the WEF’s terrible vision.

Harvard Vaccines Satellite

 

Globalists have long targeted vulnerable populations as “social impact” fuel, this is corporate predation branded as paternalistic “care.” Within the tech-no-logic system, total compliance will be demanded. Approved behavior becomes currency, tokenized on blockchain and monitored by sensors and AI. They are training us for a future where we compete with one another to see who is the best behaved, the most docile. Surviving will mean conforming to the strident terms of psychopathic financial agreements. To obtain the data needed to verify claims embedded in twisted “pay for success” deals, our mother, the earth, must be remade as a geo-fenced digital prison using 5G and satellite constellations. All of your data will be added to your “permanent record” to evaluate your value as human capital for investor portfolios. The billionaires envision a future where freedom is a privilege limited to themselves, their functionaries, and the robots they control. Be assured AI is already keeping tabs, and social credit scoring is well underway.

Sophisticated propaganda campaigns and strategic cooptation of grassroots movements have groomed the public to embrace this model with open arms. The trap has been set. Submit now and EVERY aspect of life, which through bioengineering can now be tweaked at the cellular level, will be controlled to profit the global elite. This is not just about surveillance and policing, it is about the wholesale domination of mind, body, and spirit through smart technologies. Biometric health passports will bring these systems to scale through ID2020. Central banks will soon bring latent human capital bond markets online.

Moreau River

 

This planned future, however, is NOT preordained. Totalitarian transhumanism is not a foregone conclusion. Trudell’s remedy? Change our perception of reality through active non-cooperation. Manifest in our hearts, minds, and actions the world we desire. Where they engineer disconnect, RECONNECT with intention; not only with one another, but with ALL our relations and the land and the spiritual beings that exist beyond our senses. We must synchronize to change the vibrational reality, and that power exists within us as children of the earth.

Our relationship to the sun, sky, and universe is the cosmic web that must be rewoven. According to Trudell, awakened humans have a responsibility to use the intelligence given to them by the creator to face the violence of the tech-no-logic machine. It is up to those of us who see to do this with clarity and coherence. By becoming “thinkers” we reclaim our stability and step outside the control system that manipulates those who passively “believe.”

Trudell’s philosophy inspires me and offers a bulwark against the panic I feel watching the rise of tech-no-logic fascism steeped in medical martial law. To counter this grim vision, I want to share with you a story of the timpsila braid hanging in my kitchen. To me, it embodies the triumph of the creator and Indigenous life over disastrous tech-no-logic white western thinking. It is a reminder to check my tendencies towards despair and to work to manifest a different reality within my heart as a clear-thinking and feeling human being. When I am tempted to dig deeper into the darkness I will strive to shine a light and imagine a future of reciprocity, gratitude, community, and care.

Timpsila, Psoralea esculenta or prairie turnip - a wild food gathered by the Lakota people.

Timpsila, Psoralea esculenta or prairie turnip – a wild food gathered by the Lakota people.

 

Timpsila, Psoralea esculenta or prairie turnip, is a wild food gathered by the Lakota people. Its silvery green leaves and piercing purple flowers punctuate the prairie hills. Its tubers are wild-harvested in June after flowering. The tops are carefully placed back in each dug hole so their seeds can complete the life cycle and restore what has been taken. Slender roots braided together allow the tubers to be dried for storage. Rehydrated, they are used in stews or ground as flour. It is a durable food, a survival food. A Timpsila braid is a sign of abundance and a deep connection to the earth.

I was given two gifts this summer, the first was a gift of a month on the land and the second was the gift of the braid. That first gift extended a chance for me to knit myself back into the cosmos. My being had come perilously close to slipping into the dark embrace of algorithmic “life.” Wrenchinthegears.com is my blog, and it has been literally wrenching to watch the treacherous plans I’ve been investigating for years emerge full-blown against the Covid backdrop. Time and space to disconnect from tech-no-logic’s predator energy was an unexpected and precious offering that took me by surprise.

Initially I hesitated. Could I leave my family for the six weeks needed to drive, quarantine, and do what was needed? Could I step away from my job for that long? Was my 50-year-old not-too-fit body up for the task? I’d never done anything like that before. There was a world out there waiting beyond my kitchen table. Perhaps I would find community; perhaps I would learn more about myself; perhaps I would restore my relationship with nature – so many possibilities. In the end, I chose to step away from my laptop, put my power-mapping on hold, shift from brain work to heart work, and put my body into a project I hoped would help to feed people.

I bought a tent and dehydrated food, gathered up books and yarn and my teddy bear then headed west as spring gave way to summer. If you know you me in person, you know I’m a planner, a box-checker, and a striver. Not proud of it, but its part of the package of how I was trained up to be. To make this choice felt highly irregular, but also profoundly right. Uncertain times led me to look inside myself and trust the process. If we’re committed to changing the dominant paradigm, one shaped by empire, violence, competition, and hyper-consumerism, we have to be willing to risk healing when a door is opened – to follow the lines, as John Trudell said, with intelligence and coherence. Maybe in doing the work of healing ourselves we can help heal the world and build anew.

Before I set off, a friend who stewards an African-diaspora urban farm told me to move slow. Learn the land first. The work needed to come from a spiritual place. He offered some horticultural guidance, but cautioned that I might not end up doing what I thought I was going there to do. The challenge was to be attuned and humble. Look closely and listen carefully. Another friend suggested I go down to the river, the Schuylkill, before my trip and ask for guidance on the journey. I’m new to and rather clumsy with ceremony and ended up ankle deep in the gooey tidal mud. In a real sense I was hoping this gift of time and space would offer a measure of transformation. So the lesson I took away from my visit to the river is that if your goal is transformation, there is no tiptoeing around the edges. You have to be willing to step forward with both feet and get dirty.

 

Tidal mud

 

In the days before I left I saw many precious garter snakes, including one that was nestled in a strawberry plant in a bed I was weeding. A beautiful blue racer sped out of the tall grass to greet me in the garden one of my first days there, and the day before I left a five-foot bull snake spread itself luxuriously across a back road as a friend and I looked on appreciatively. Surely on this journey I was meant to shed some of my old skin.

To change the world, we must be willing to look deeply within ourselves. We must unpack the ways in which compulsory education, religion, politics, and consumer culture seek to contain us within a larger control system. Thus confined, the predator energy of which Trudell spoke can easily feed off the manufactured discord that is continuously inflamed to profit the Davos elite. If we can secure a new lens and commit ourselves to restoring right relationships, we might then be able to chart a new course. At this pandemic moment of the WEF’s attempted global economic reset (aka global coup via mass impoverishment) my goal was to unplug, step out of time, and carry out my own internal reboot.

So, I pointed my aging Subaru away from life in a “smart” city to a land of grass, wind, and sky. At the end of the road the IDEA of a vegetable garden waited for me in a quiet river valley. Those who’d asked me to come wanted to build a garden that would complement a chicken-raising effort: manure, insect control, feed, a circular system. The goal was to develop a prototype that with material and technical support might allow small communities to access healthier, more affordable food.

Food independence is radical. This is why counter-insurgent warfare targets the people’s ability to feed themselves. This is why the Black Panthers were considered so dangerous to the power structure. This is why corporations keep us sick with highly processed GMO consumables. This is why we are seeing consolidation of supply chains under Covid. Advancement of hydroponic, petro-chemical fertilizer-based vegetable production and lab-grown “meat” are a central feature of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Food is meant to be medicine for body and spirit. Putting hands to earth is medicine. Saving open-pollinated seeds is medicine. Heirloom seeds contain histories of struggle and survival. I arrived with a spade and shovel seeking to be part of this medicine work, my hands ready.

 

Vertisol Soil

 

When I first saw it, the area for the planned garden was a lush carpet of grasses, yarrow, wild onions, and sagebrush. They grew out of a silty clay soil unlike anything I’d ever put my hands in before. It is the kind of soil that when moist you can turn into a clay pot, but once dry hardens like concrete and splinters into an infinite web of delicate cracks that shelter velvety wolf spiders as big as your hand. Vertisol soil – we came to know one other well in the weeks to come.

On the land my learning began. Before I left I gathered bird guides, grass identification charts, treatises on ethno-botany of the northern prairies. I soaked up the written word, but heart work truly blooms through the lived experience of the body. In those weeks of quarantine I walked gravel roads to distant horizons and encountered the diverse residents of the grass nation. I lived the beauty of each moment – every week new seed heads, blooms, insects, and birds to greet. As Robin Wall Kimmerer says – we are the young siblings with much to learn from the older beings around us. The prairie was my teacher, and I am forever grateful for the lessons gifted to me outside the control matrix.

Cottonwood tree

 

The wooden stakes set amidst the grass behind the chicken coops offered only a vague hint of what would emerge there. We decided to experiment with different approaches using local materials and see what worked best and what could be brought to scale. The final garden included three tilled beds with cover crops, eight hand-dug beds with new topsoil brought in, a trenched bed for potatoes, ten sod berms, and three compost piles. There was also a tilled bed amended with cattle manure where we planted corn, beans, and squash – the three sisters.

Early on my friend visited me in the garden. He tried to convince me that the soil, even though to MY eyes seemed impossible, would be fine. His ancestors had farmed the river bottom. He held that knowledge, and I am ashamed that in my uncertainty and concern over “succeeding” at this garden project, I did not fully embrace those teachings. And so in the trials we did, the bed that was tilled with just a little manure – the three sisters bed – grew as my friend assured me it would. The leaves of corn unfurled, then the beans, then the squash. By the time I departed all of the seeds had made their presence known. We decided to call it Three Sisters Sanctuary. After a stormy night that poured an inch of rain onto the cracked earth, I packed up my muddy tent and headed east knowing the sanctuary would be well cared for by my friend. After all, it was his land. He knew its life force in his heart.

During my stay, this friend generously shared aspects of life close to nature on the prairie. The June moon in Lakota is called tinpsinla itkahaca wi or moon when the seedpods of the wild turnip go to seed. He filled a five-gallon bucket and showed me how to prepare them for storage. My first attempts to peel the tubers with my rarely used pocketknife were rather dismal. I was too tentative, but eventually got the hang of how to slide the blade in near the stem end and slough off the rough husk to expose the smooth, moist flesh of the turnip inside. Supremely satisfying. In that liminal space between time zones, in many ways outside of time entirely, a midday break sitting in the shade to peel timpsila felt perfectly right. There was a rhythm to reweaving torn connections between one human and the earth. Bit by bit, tuber-by-tuber, slow, slow, slow, the bucket emptied – a small act of non-cooperation against a mechanized world defined by speed, industrialization, and global supply chains.

Peeled Timpsila

 

I was granted the opportunity to see timpsila in their proper place among other plant beings, clear ponds, and rock rings under a sky painted with clouds that filtered a dramatic pre-storm light. These are not the domesticated plants of a garden plot, not tomatoes or peppers, but wild offerings made by the creator to the being part of human. I greeted them on those hills the night of the Solstice on land that had been in one family for over a century. That crisp bite of a fresh dug turnip on that sacred land was powerful medicine. I will carry it in my heart, and I am profoundly grateful for it.

Prairie Solstice

 

The night my friend gifted me the braid he came out to my tent. It had been raining, and as he turned his head, his headlamp shown briefly on the fence. There, a spider was deftly weaving a web. It glistened with raindrops and took my breath away. We stopped for a moment to watch in the cool night air the spider going about her work. Just like the spider, those of us who are awake are empowered to be world builders. Even though we may feel overwhelmed by the dark and the rain, we have the option of creating a new story – the potential of the silken thread that lies at the core of our being. We do not have to remain trapped within the current paradigm. The old, tattered web can be consumed and made anew. Together we have the creative power to weave a future where tech-no-logic is banished from our lives.

This timpsila braid is a token of friendship, a connection across time and space. It is a powerful affirmation of Indigenous resistance to the vicious forces of capitalist growth that seek to annihilate and erase world views grounded in the care and wellbeing of the earth and all its creatures. This includes all the children of the earth who have stewarded Turtle Island, Africa, India, Australia, and Asia through these dark colonial times.

Prairie Storm

 

Imagine if non-Indigenous people had it within them to become “thinkers” as Trudell describes them. No longer indoctrinated by the control matrix feeding off their pain and strife, but instead intent on cultivating a culture of gratitude, ceremony, community, and reciprocity – all of it grounded in a connection to the earth and the cosmos. THAT could very well be the antidote to the mechanistic spirit eating of tech-no-logic “green” capitalism. It would kill the human capital bond market before 5G and wearable-tech shackles ever got off the drawing board, unleashing a power beyond anything we can imagine. We can make it so.

With clarity and brave hearts we can bring forth a new world. We commit to that and heal or submit to the tech-no-logic matrix and lose our souls. Let us embrace one another as “thinking” human beings, web weavers who dare write a different story. As Robin Wall Kimmerer teaches, we do not have to carry it all. Each of us has gifts for the bundle.

Know your gifts and how to share them. Stay grounded in the soil. Open your heart to receive true teachings. Find the others; they will cross your path. Slow down and look to the horizon, so you have eyes to see them. We are not alone. We are not isolated. Together we can nurture one another not as digital brands and avatars but as precious fellow travellers on a journey from darkness to light.

This piece is itself a web of many silken threads graciously offered up by beloved collaborators. Thank you friends.

If you’re in a position to support Lakota food independence efforts, gifts of any size will help pay for next spring’s seeds. Chas Jewett on Venmo @chas-jewett-1. Wopila.

This is a tour of Three Sisters Sanctuary. Know the past and build a better future.

We Have No Reason to Believe 5G Is Safe

Scientific American

October 17, 2019

By Joel M. Moskowitz

 

Jan 10, 2020, World Econmic Forum website:  "In fact, the revolution has already begun. The global deployment of 5G networks got a running start in 2019 and is set to rapidly expand beyond anything we expected a year ago. But the public understanding of 5G hasn’t caught up."

Jan 10, 2020, World Econmic Forum website: “In fact, the revolution has already begun. The global deployment of 5G networks got a running start in 2019 and is set to rapidly expand beyond anything we expected a year ago. But the public understanding of 5G hasn’t caught up.”

 

The telecommunications industry and their experts have accused many scientists who have researched the effects of cell phone radiation of “fear mongering” over the advent of wireless technology’s 5G. Since much of our research is publicly-funded, we believe it is our ethical responsibility to inform the public about what the peer-reviewed scientific literature tells us about the health risks from wireless radiation.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced through a press release that the commission will soon reaffirm the radio frequency radiation (RFR) exposure limits that the FCC adopted in the late 1990s. These limits are based upon a behavioral change in rats exposed to microwave radiation and were designed to protect us from short-term heating risks due to RFR exposure.

Yet, since the FCC adopted these limits based largely on research from the 1980s, the preponderance of peer-reviewed research, more than 500 studies, have found harmful biologic or health effects from exposure to RFR at intensities too low to cause significant heating.

Citing this large body of research, more than 240 scientists who have published peer-reviewed research on the biologic and health effects of nonionizing electromagnetic fields (EMF) signed the International EMF Scientist Appeal, which calls for stronger exposure limits. The appeal makes the following assertions:

“Numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines. Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans. Damage goes well beyond the human race, as there is growing evidence of harmful effects to both plant and animal life.”

The scientists who signed this appeal arguably constitute the majority of experts on the effects of nonionizing radiation. They have published more than 2,000 papers and letters on EMF in professional journals.

The FCC’s RFR exposure limits regulate the intensity of exposure, taking into account the frequency of the carrier waves, but ignore the signaling properties of the RFR. Along with the patterning and duration of exposures, certain characteristics of the signal (e.g., pulsing, polarization) increase the biologic and health impacts of the exposure. New exposure limits are needed which account for these differential effects. Moreover, these limits should be based on a biological effect, not a change in a laboratory rat’s behavior.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified RFR as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” in 2011. Last year, a $30 million study conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) found “clear evidence” that two years of exposure to cell phone RFR increased cancer in male rats and damaged DNA in rats and mice of both sexes. The Ramazzini Institute in Italy replicated the key finding of the NTP using a different carrier frequency and much weaker exposure to cell phone radiation over the life of the rats.

Based upon the research published since 2011, including human and animal studies and mechanistic data, the IARC has recently prioritized RFR to be reviewed again in the next five years. Since many EMF scientists believe we now have sufficient evidence to consider RFR as either a probable or known human carcinogen, the IARC will likely upgrade the carcinogenic potential of RFR in the near future.

Nonetheless, without conducting a formal risk assessment or a systematic review of the research on RFR health effects, the FDA recently reaffirmed the FCC’s 1996 exposure limits in a letter to the FCC, stating that the agency had “concluded that no changes to the current standards are warranted at this time,” and that “NTP’s experimental findings should not be applied to human cell phone usage.” The letter stated that “the available scientific evidence to date does not support adverse health effects in humans due to exposures at or under the current limits.”

The latest cellular technology, 5G, will employ millimeter waves for the first time in addition to microwaves that have been in use for older cellular technologies, 2G through 4G. Given limited reach, 5G will require cell antennas every 100 to 200 meters, exposing many people to millimeter wave radiation. 5G also employs new technologies (e.g., active antennas capable of beam-forming; phased arrays; massive multiple inputs and outputs, known as massive MIMO) which pose unique challenges for measuring exposures.

Millimeter waves are mostly absorbed within a few millimeters of human skin and in the surface layers of the cornea. Short-term exposure can have adverse physiological effects in the peripheral nervous system, the immune system and the cardiovascular system. The research suggests that long-term exposure may pose health risks to the skin (e.g., melanoma), the eyes (e.g., ocular melanoma) and the testes (e.g., sterility).

Since 5G is a new technology, there is no research on health effects, so we are “flying blind” to quote a U.S. senator. However, we have considerable evidence about the harmful effects of 2G and 3G. Little is known the effects of exposure to 4G, a 10-year-old technology, because governments have been remiss in funding this research. Meanwhile, we are seeing increases in certain types of head and neck tumors in tumor registries, which may be at least partially attributable to the proliferation of cell phone radiation. These increases are consistent with results from case-control studies of tumor risk in heavy cell phone users.

5G will not replace 4G; it will accompany 4G for the near future and possibly over the long term. If there are synergistic effects from simultaneous exposures to multiple types of RFR, our overall risk of harm from RFR may increase substantially. Cancer is not the only risk as there is considerable evidence that RFR causes neurological disorders and reproductive harm, likely due to oxidative stress.

As a society, should we invest hundreds of billions of dollars deploying 5G, a cellular technology that requires the installation of 800,000 or more new cell antenna sites in the U.S. close to where we live, work and play?

Instead, we should support the recommendations of the 250 scientists and medical doctors who signed the 5G Appeal that calls for an immediate moratorium on the deployment of 5G and demand that our government fund the research needed to adopt biologically based exposure limits that protect our health and safety.

 

[Joel M. Moskowitz, PhD, is director of the Center for Family and Community Health in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. He has been translating and disseminating the research on wireless radiation health effects since 2009 after he and his colleagues published a review paper that found long-term cell phone users were at greater risk of brain tumors. His Electromagnetic Radiation Safety website has had more than two million page views since 2013. He is an unpaid advisor to the International EMF Scientist Appeal and Physicians for Safe Technology.]

 

The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Trees, GE Trees & Nature to Save Capitalism from Itself: New Report

Trees, GE Trees & Nature to Save Capitalism from Itself: New Report

The Campaign to STOP GE Trees

July 18, 2019

 

Trees, GE Trees & Nature to Save Capitalism from Itself: New Report

Raleigh exhibit depicts gasoline from genetically engineered trees. photo: Langelle/GJEP

Trees to Solve the World’s Problems?

From Genetically Engineered Trees for the Bioeconomy – to the Trillion Tree Proposal and Business for Nature

Traducción al Español

Tradução para o Português

By Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle, Global Justice Ecology Project

 

This report examines events and research publicized between 23 June and 4 July 2019 that discuss the mass-use of trees to enable the unsustainable lifestyles of the world’s top 1% in the face of looming ecological catastrophe: from trees genetically engineered to feed the “green” manufacture of energy, plastics and chemicals; the planting of trillions of trees to reduce global atmospheric carbon levels; and “reforms” to the economic system to allow future profit-making under the guise of biodiversity protection.

The three events where these proposals were brought out were the International Union of Forest Research Organization’s 2019 Tree Biotechnology Conference 23-29 June at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, The Global Tree Restoration Potential, a new study published on 4 July in Science, and the launch of Business for Nature initiatives in China and Norway on 2 July.

 

IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference

The International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) held its biennial 2019 Tree Biotechnology Conference over 23-29 June at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. This was the first Tree Biotechnology Conference held by IUFRO since June 2017 when their conference in Concepción, Chile was met with days of protests and disruptions by Mapuche activists, students and others. The 2019 Tree Biotech conference was originally announced to take place in Curitiba, Brazil. It appears that the conference was suddenly moved to Raleigh, North Carolina because of the protests at the last Tree Biotech conference in Chile and the fact that Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), has a long history of being militantly anti-GE tree. [1] NC State was likely chosen as it is the hub for many different efforts pursuing and promoting GE trees, including use of gene-editing on trees, and researching new ways to sell GE trees to a resistant public–a major theme of this year’s Tree Biotechnology Conference.

The effects of the 2017 protests could be felt at this year’s Tree Biotechnology Conference, which included constant police presence both inside and outside of the venue, pleas to attendees to consider taking over the top three leadership roles in the event, and confusion as to when or where the next conference might take place, and even whether to continue to use the controversial term “biotechnology.” The lack of public presence by some of the most outspoken leaders in the tree biotechnology field and leading GE tree company ArborGen, further underscored the anxiety of the event.

While the future of the Tree Biotech Conferences is uncertain, what was not at question was the desire by industry to use specially designed GE trees as a feedstock for the future “bioeconomy”, which was addressed in a closing series of presentations. Unlocking the sugars in trees, necessary to transform them into fuels, plastics, chemicals and other products, however, has proven a major challenge. This was reflected in the rising emphasis at the 2019 conference on the genetic engineering technique known as CRISPR. The ecological and social implications of the massive increase in demand for wood to fuel this “bioeconomy” or the risks associated with the GE trees involved, were not addressed.

Rodolphe Barrangou presents on CRISPR Photo:Langelle/GJEP

Rodolphe Barrangou, NC State professor and editor of The CRISPR Journal gave the opening keynote for the IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference, highlighting his personal efforts to bring CRISPR and other gene editing techniques into the forestry sector. He referred to human history as “BC” – Before CRISPR” vs “AD – after the death of the other recombinant technologies.” He also pointed out that “the [CRISPR commercialization] bottleneck [is] acceptance by regulators and society.”

To solve this problem, he envisioned a CRISPR gene editing process that would achieve a “non-transgenic…non-GMO [regulatory] approval.” Barrangou feared that if people understood that CRISPR is still genetic engineering, it would be the downfall of CRISPR’s commercial success—and make it harder for his new CRISPR startup focusing on developing CRISPR for forest trees to become profitable.

CRISPR would use artificial intelligence and machine learning in forest trees, he explained, to predict what genomes, sequences and pathways to “knock out, turn on, turn off,” in order to find the relevant traits of interest to industry. He did, however, admit that CRISPR scientists are “nowhere near understanding tree genomics as well as we understand human genomics due to the fact that tree genomes are so much bigger and more complex.”

But the excitement around CRISPR as a new tool to genetically engineer trees was evident at the conference, which included several other presentations on CRISPR in trees, including use of CRISPR to modify tree branching in order to grow trees much more densely in plantations. If implemented, this would have serious repercussions for communities and biodiversity near the plantations, as the existing problems with forced displacements, fresh water loss and inundation with agrotoxins like fertilizers and pesticides would be greatly exacerbated.

This lack of concern about the larger implications and risks of GE trees by researchers has led to decades of global opposition, a fact which was discussed during a lengthy panel session on “Societal Acceptance of Forest Biotechnology.” The session was focused on ways to encourage the public to accept GE trees. It opened with a presentation by Jared Westbrook, Director of Science of the American Chestnut Foundation, on using GE to restore the American chestnut—documented as being a “test case” to make GE trees more palatable to the public. The session was focused on ways to encourage the public to accept GE trees. It opened with a presentation by Jared Westbrook, Director of Science of the American Chestnut Foundation, on using GE to restore the American chestnut—documented as being a “test case” to make GE trees more palatable to the public. The second presentation in the session discussed the findings of a survey by Mark Needham conducted to see how to convince the public of the benefits of using GE trees in forest restoration schemes, especially the GE American chestnut. The panel discussion that followed included participation by Westbrook, Needham, GE tree pioneer Ron Sederoff and a representative from GE tree company FuturaGene. The conversation among the panelists and the audience was very candid about the worries around public opinion, the potential for increased regulations on CRISPR, and the ban on GE trees by the Forest Stewardship Council.

The general malaise of the conference continued at its closing dinner, normally a gala celebration, which was without enthusiasm and repeated the pleas for willing volunteers to take over the organizing of future activities.

 

Trillion Tree Planting Proposal

Less than one week after the close of the IUFRO Tree Biotech Conference, a study was published in Science titled The Global Tree Restoration Potential, projecting the ability to mitigate climate change by the mass-planting of trillions of trees across the globe. [2]

The study, developed by Crowther Labs and ETH Zürich, with the help of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, was hailed as a miracle cure for climate change—the surefire solution to allow dominant culture to continue uninterrupted by ecological collapse. The study, however, is fraught with unanswered questions and serious red flags. One major flag is the study’s reliance on the UN FAO’s definition of forests, which is any area 10% covered by trees, and does not exclude monoculture tree plantations–despite repeated calls by forest protection groups to do so. According to the World Rainforest Movement, the FAO definition “discards other life-forms as well as the biological and cultural diversity that define a forest while ignoring the social and environmental impacts of plantations.” [3]

What this means is that the trillion trees being promoted could easily include vast monocultures of non-native trees, or even GE trees, due to the FAO’s intentionally overbroad definition of forests. [4] This fact is confirmed by a decision made at the 2003 UN Climate Conference in Milan that GE trees could be used in forest carbon plantations.

Another serious flag is the involvement in this study of researchers linked to the UN’s program to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). [5] The REDD program has been actively opposed by Indigenous Peoples and forest dependent communities since its inception. REDD schemes take over forested lands to “protect” (and sell) the carbon they store—and have resulted in the forced displacement of communities that live in those forests. [6]

Because the trillion tree proposal repeatedly refers to generating tree cover “in the absence of”, or “with minimal” human activity on 1.7 billion hectares, it could easily result in mass-displacements of rural, poor and Indigenous communities from those lands.

An additional problem with the study comes from its math. The authors admit that the 300 gigatons of carbon projected to be stored by these trillion trees will not be realized until the trees are mature, which could take decades. [7] Meanwhile 10Gt of C02 are being emitted annually. [8] Particularly in boreal forest zones, a major emphasis of the study, trees grow very, very slowly. Add to this the study’s lack of interest in the increasing rate of destruction of existing critical forests that is occurring—such as the 88% rise in deforestation rates in Brazil’s Amazon over the past year [9] –and it reads more like a fairy tale than a serious recommendation for mitigating climate change.

 

Trees as the Engine for a Green Future of Consumption

While seemingly at odds, both the Crowther Lab study on vastly expanding global tree cover to store carbon, and the proposal by GE tree researchers to vastly increase demand for trees by genetically engineering them to replace fossil fuels for the industrial production of everything from electricity to plastics, fall in the same false worldview where the mass-use of trees becomes the path to a “clean, green future”. Both are, at their essence, cynical and opportunistic schemes to avoid real, fundamental social, economic and political change in order to enable overconsumption as usual in the face of overwhelming evidence that rapid and fundamental changes at all levels of society must be undertaken—a call that has been taken up by the National Academies of Sciences [10] and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. [11]

 

Business for Nature?

Along with these false solutions to climate change emerged another subterfuge to use forests and the natural world to accelerate profit-making under a “clean, green” veneer. On 2 July, a Business for Nature scheme was announced simultaneously at a World Economic Forum meeting in China and Norway’s Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity.

The idea is not new. In 2008 in Bonn, Germany, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) launched its own Business and Biodiversity Initiative that included models for marketing environmental services, the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme (BBOP), The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), and a new Green Development Mechanism. [12]

The Business for Nature initiative, however, is renewing the scheme using the urgency of ecological crises, as evidenced by its website headline Nature Loss is Threatening Our Economies–Urgent Actions and Collaborations are Needed. [13]

The opening of the site lists statistics on the “massive loss of nature” while studiously avoiding any indication as to the causes, which have been driven by the very belief underpinning the initiative, that humans are somehow separate from “nature.” The site highlights the Global Risk Report which “identified environmental risks as among the greatest systemic risks to our global economy,” adding that “only nuclear war would be more destructive.”

In the twisted logic of the Business for Nature scheme, “nature protection” is unironically promoted as “essential for prosperous business,” including the activities that have led us to this ecological crisis–i.e. ongoing natural resource extraction.

The grand finale of their proposal highlights the “significant opportunities” (massive profits) to be made from protecting the “ecosystem services” of nature:

“$2 trillion in opportunities in food and land system transformation alone

$22.6 trillion opportunity for water infrastructure by 2050

THE OCEAN ECONOMY ESTIMATED TO BE WORTH $2.5 TRILLION PER ANNUM”

In its pledge to forests, it touts a massive ‘reforestation’ campaign, along with a commitment to REDD, and the “elimination of deforestation by 2030” which would magically be achieved with no plan to reduce demand for wood products.

In fact, the future of “green business,” fueled by a bioeconomy, requires a huge increase in wood consumption.

 

CRISPR to Manufacture the Perfect (Unregulated) GE Tree?

And this is where the Tree Biotechnology Conference, The Global Tree Restoration Potential and Business for Nature may overlap is through the genetic engineering technology known as CRISPR. [14]

The overall impression from the IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference was that scientists and industry are banking on emerging technologies like CRISPR and a rising demand for wood products and designer GE trees to meet the future market for forest health, climate mitigation and the bioeconomy.

Would CRISPR be used as part of the trillion tree effort? Will it be used to genetically engineer trees to be specially adapted to particular biomes? Or to withstand climate change, insect attacks, or other stresses?

There are uncomfortable connections between the work to create genetically engineered CRISPR trees and the Trillion Tree study. ETH Zürich in Switzerland, home of the Crowther Lab that led the study, for example, is considered one of the best biotechnology schools in Europe. In March it awarded the Richard R. Ernst Gold Medal to Emmanuelle Charpentier, one of the scientists who discovered the CRISPR gene editing tool, and sits on the Editorial Board of The CRISPR Journal with Barrangou. And Crowther likes to boast that his lab includes experts in geospacial mapping, remote sensing and genetic techniques. It is easy to see where genetically engineered CRISPR trees could fit into the scheme to cover the planet in carbon sucking GE trees that could be then cut down and pulped, chipped or digested into sugars to feed the insatiable and unsustainable demand for building materials, energies, plastics, etc. The demand which has fed the global economy and has helped lead us to the brink of disaster.

 

Except for the European Regulation on Gene Editing

During the IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference panel on societal acceptance of GE trees, researcher Wout Boerjan, of the Ghent Institute in Belgium, a long-time campaigner for the deregulation of GE trees, discussed his fears about the EU decision to treat gene edited trees and other organisms the same as other GMOs. “If gene editing falls under the GM regulation, many new companies will not start. There are many new ideas based on CRISPR/CAS and they can only develop into a company if it’s not going to be so expensive to bring these products on the market. So, if you have a new edited plant and you need to go through the regulatory system, which is extremely expensive, these small companies cannot afford it and the product will not come to the market, so the whole innovation in Europe will just fall flat.” [15].

Miron Abramson, of GE tree company FuturaGene, responded that he was less concerned about gene editing perceived as GMO, “So we will treat it as GE and I don’t see any disadvantage or advantage in this case, but just another tool.”

 

A Voice of Experience Offers a Word of Caution

But the Tree Biotechnology conference was not without its cautionary voices. On the societal acceptance panel, Professor Ron Sederoff, considered the father of tree biotechnology, remarked that, “There are people who are kept up at night worrying about this technology and I might be one of them. One opponent of GE technology, David Suzuki, makes an argument that is widely considered that science shouldn’t be trusted with new technology. That science does things that are inherently dangerous and we don’t know what to expect, and I think that’s the core of his argument. But I agree that that’s right. There are people who simply have a fear of new technology, and I think they have a good reason. Looking back on human history, there has been misuse of every major technology that has been invented…We haven’t even thought about the potential for the misuse of the technology that we’re talking about. But I think it’s there…I think that there are worries, and I think that CRISPR, for example, poses a threat because it makes things [that exist outside of the law] and if you could do anything you want to and you were malevolently inclined, you might be able to take pathogens that affect people or ecology or forests and [use CRISPR to combine their traits] and make new things. I think there are things to worry about.” [16]

 

Transformation not Reformation: Join the Resurgence!

Global Justice Ecology Project (globaljusticeecology.org), coordinating body of the international Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees, (stopgetrees.org) is issuing this report and critique of the 2019 IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference, the Trillion Tree Campaign and Business for Natureinitiative because of our commitment to expose ecologically and socially destructive false solutions that enable business as usual. This is a step in our work to help create a movement that can fundamentally transform political, social and economic systems in order to address the multiple ecological crises threatening the future survival of humans and millions of other species.

For this reason, we are also co-organizing The Resurgence: 2019 North American Forest & Climate Movement Convergence, 11-14 October in the Shawnee National Forest of Southern Illinois. This strategic action session, open to forest and climate activists, organizers and others is aimed at uncovering root causes of the ecological crises we face and developing new strategies to address them. (For info: forestclimateconvergence.org)

To protect forests and communities from the impacts of climate catastrophe, we must actively opposeunjust market-based and profit-oriented false solutions to climate change, such as those described above. If what is proposed as a solution to catastrophic climate change jeopardizes other people or ecosystems it cannot claim to be just or sustainable.

To keep forests intact, we must fundamentally transform the dominant political and economic systems and transition to small-scale, local and traditional systems.

We can clearly see the result of the dominant political and economic system in the form of climate and other crises, including loss of fresh water and arable land, ocean collapse, mass-extinction and extreme weather, as well as escalating human rights abuses including forced displacements, migrations and genocide.

These systems cannot be simply reformed. We must organize to fundamentally confront and transform them. Even the generally conservative National Academy of Sciences agrees. A paper they published on 6 August 2018 concludes, “[A] Stabilized Earth trajectory requires deliberate management of humanity’s relationship with the rest of the Earth System if the world is to avoid crossing a planetary threshold. We suggest that a deep transformation based on a fundamental reorientation of human values, equity, behavior, institutions, economies, and technologies is required.” [10]

For information on how to join this effort for systemic transformation, visit The Resurgence: 2019 North American Forest & Climate Movement Convergence http://forestclimateconvergence.org

 

NOTES

[1] CTNBio Meeting to Approve GE Trees Cancelled – FuturaGene Taken Over (2015) https://stopgetrees.org/victory-ctnbio-occupied-meeting-cancelled-no-approval-ge-trees/ and see Interview with a Militant of the MST (2017) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GeqRRM7A5s&list=PLJIqsEBkCVM2edxllRUp2a0zTwPI0CMjq&index=4&t=561s

[2] The Global Tree Restoration Potential (2019) https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6448/76

[3] For decades, World Rainforest Movement and others have demanded that the FAO change its forest definition, which “reduces a forest to any area covered by trees. In doing so, the FAO definition discards other life-forms as well as the biological, cyclical and cultural diversity that define a forest in its continuous interconnection with forest-dependent communities. FAO’s reductionist definition also allows the companies behind tens of millions of industrial fast-growing plantations to claim their monocultures are ‘planted forests’. Countries’ forest statistics thus count these fast-growing industrial monocultures as ‘forests’, in spite of the well-documented social and environmental impacts such plantations have caused around the world.” In 2009, WRM explained, “the definition of forests is not an academic or linguistic discussion: it is a political issue having serious social and environmental consequences at the ground level. Defining plantations as forests empowers the corporate sector – particularly plantation companies – and disempowers local communities opposing them to protect their livelihoods. The FAO continues playing this role by refusing to change its definition.” https://wrm.org.uy/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Compilaci%C3%B3n-21-de-Marzo-2018-EN.pdf

[4] Use of the FAO definition means that “reforestation” efforts could easily become tree monocultures, or even GE tree plantations, since there is no official difference between them. While the Crowther Lab distances itself from the question of monocultures in its online follow up [https://www.crowtherlab.com/tree-restoration-potential-qa/] use of the FAO definition of forests means monocultures cannot be avoided. And at the FAO’s World Forestry Conference in 2009 in Buenos Aires, sessions addressing reforestation, afforestation, forest restoration, sustainable forest management, and net zero deforestation all advocated the planting of tree monocultures.[http://climate-connections.org/2009/10/23/world-forestry-congress-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-plantations/]

[5] National Forest Monitoring and Information Systems for a transparent and truthful REDD+ process (FAO) https://www.researchgate.net/project/National-Forest-Monitoring-and-Information-Systems-for-a-transparent-and-truthful-REDD-process-FAO

[6] Sky Protector Briefing Paper https://skyprotector.org/2018/08/19/sky-protector-briefing-paper-8-2/ also see the film A Darker Shade of Green, REDD Alert and the Future of Forests https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPFPUhsWMaQ and

REDD-Monitor’s Offsetting fossil fuel emissions with tree planting and ‘natural climate solutions’: science, magical thinking, or pure PR? https://redd-monitor.org/2019/07/04/offsetting-fossil-fuel-emissions-with-tree-planting-and-natural-climate-solutions-science-magical-thinking-or-pure-pr/

[7] “Of course, the carbon capture associated with global restoration could not be instantaneous because it would take several decades for forests to reach maturity. Nevertheless, under the assumption that most of this additional carbon was sourced from the atmosphere, reaching this maximum restoration potential would reduce a considerable proportion of the global anthropogenic carbon burden (~300 GtC) to date.” (1). The global tree restoration potential https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6448/76

[8] According to the Global Carbon Project: https://www.co2.earth/global-co2-emissions

[9] Brazil: huge rise in Amazon destruction under Bolsonaro, figures showThe Guardian, 3 July 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/03/brazil-amazon-rainforest-deforestation-environment

[10] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 2018: Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocenehttps://www.pnas.org/content/115/33/8252

[11] “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society,” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Summary for Policymakers https://www.ipcc.ch/2018/10/08/summary-for-policymakers-of-ipcc-special-report-on-global-warming-of-1-5c-approved-by-governments/

[12] The Green Shock Doctrine, p. 4 https://globaljusticeecology.org/green-shock-doctrine/

[13] Business for Nature website: https://businessfornature.org/

[14] CRISPR is a gene editing technique in which CRISPR and the RNA segments and enzymes it produces are used to identify and modify specific DNA sequences in the genome of other organisms https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/CRISPR

[15] 2019 IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference session on “Societal Acceptance of Tree Biotechnology” (Quote found at 49:47)https://mediasite.wolfware.ncsu.edu/online/Play/f9f72a14f48f4b4bb5a58222979e4afd1d?catalog=b9038d70a4ff49dbaab35ddc1a25705821

[16] 2019 IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference session on “Societal Acceptance of Tree Biotechnology” (Quote found at 1:28:04)https://mediasite.wolfware.ncsu.edu/online/Play/f9f72a14f48f4b4bb5a58222979e4afd1d?catalog=b9038d70a4ff49dbaab35ddc1a25705821

 

[The Campaign to STOP GE Treesis a national and international alliance of organizations that have united toward the goal of prohibiting the ecologically and socially devastating release of genetically engineered trees into the environment. Global Justice Ecology Project coordinates, administrates and fundraises for the campaign. World Rainforest Movement, based in Uruguay, is the Southern Contact for the Campaign and has materials in English, Spanish and Portuguese.]

 

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