Our guest is Vandana Shiva, a world-famous environmental activist from India. Her latest book is entitled “One Earth, One Humanity vs. the 1%”. She tell us about more her opposition to big multinationals such as Monsanto for their nefarious influence on agriculture. But Shiva also singles out billionaires like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg for criticism. “When Bill Gates pours money into Africa for feeding the poor in Africa and preventing famine, he’s pushing the failed Green Revolution, he’s pushing chemicals, pushing GMOs, pushing patterns”, she tells FRANCE 24’s Marc Perelman.
There’s one thing that most major cancer foundations and cancer drive
organizations never mention when “searching for the cure” or “marching
for the cure” for cancer – and that is chemicals in food. In fact, at
most pink ribbon events, many of the worst cancer-causing chemicals are
served up in the foods and drinks everybody is sucking down while hoping
to find a cure. In fact, you’ll find nitrate-loaded (KFC) fried chicken
and Mike’s hard lemonade (alcoholic style) at the Susan Komen Foundation
events. They might as well serve carcinogenic diet soda and administer
mercury-laden flu shots while they’re at it. Thanks Komen.
Are they sinister or just stupid? How ironic and uneducated these
folks are when it comes to “searching for” the prevention and cure of
the biggest human health blight this planet has ever seen.
You wouldn’t throw gasoline on a fire to try to put it out, so why eat cancer-causing foods while marching for the cure?
There are so many accidental hypocrites in America. People are
literally becoming more ignorant by the day from eating the wrong foods,
drinking the wrong drinks, and taking all the wrong medications, and
then wondering why “God” or the nation’s “top oncologists” can’t save
them with divine intervention or chemotherapy after they’re a couple
decades deep into chronic inflammation and irregular cell division.
Listen folks, stop counting calories and start counting chemicals if you want to get healthy, find your ideal weight, and avoid the “disease” (it’s really a cell disorder, not a disease) that’s crippling and offing every third American.
The number one excuse people have for not regulating and filtering
what they eat is that it’s too overwhelming. The number two excuse is
that it’s too expensive. Hey, if you want to really be overwhelmed and
bankrupt, just try getting cancer and paying the copays for surgery,
chemotherapy, radiation, and prescription drugs for the rest of your
shortened, miserable life.
Here’s a start – filter out the top twenty (and most common)
chemicals that are concocted in laboratories, added to typical American
foods and beverages, and then labeled as “generally recognized as safe”
(GRAS) by the FDA.
Top 20 carcinogenic agents that wreck the “search for the cure” for cancer by strangling and mutating your cells
Nitrates and Nitrites (think of hot dogs, bacon, deli meats)
Don’t eat cancer, and you won’t find yourself wondering WHY you got it or HOW to fight it
First things first: You should be shopping only around the perimeter
of grocery stores, health food stores and supermarkets. That’s where the
live, raw, fresh, organic produce is on display. Second: Realize that
most conventional produce is genetically modified to contain pesticides
inside, and then sprayed with bug killer and weed killer on the outside,
and then doused daily with sodium-fluoride-laden water. That same
conventional produce is grown in soil that’s depleted of nutrients by
years of toxic chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides. Fact:
More than 90 percent of U.S. soy, corn, and canola is genetically modified.
Did you know that most meat in America comes from filthy, inhumane,
confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) where there’s so much
infection from E. coli and salmonella
that processors have to use bleach and ammonia to kill the bacteria?
Then red dye, nitrates and monosodium glutamate are added to “restore”
flavor and preserve the carcasses until butchers chop it up and wrap it
up and stamp it “for sale” in all the tidy display cases. That’s why
pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate, because the pancreas
can’t handle all those tissue burning toxins that Americans just keep
sucking down, day in and day out.
Follow these rules of thumb when shopping and you’re off to a great start. If it’s made in a lab, don’t eat it. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, put the product back. If the produce belong to the “dirty dozen,” they better be organic. If the meat’s not grass-fed and organic, veer clear. Lastly, avoid stress. Believe it or not, it may just be the number one cause of cancer, even though it’s not a chemical.
The markets for genetically engineered (also called genetically modified or GM) crops are dominated by four seed and agrochemical companies. The high level of corporate concentration in the seed market has already meant higher prices, limited choices for farmers, a narrowing of genetic diversity in crops, and stagnating innovation.
Between 2017 and 2018, a series of mergers took place between the largest seed and agrochemical companies in the world:
Dow and DuPont merged to form a new company called DowDuPont and its agricultural division is called Corteva Agriscience. Corteva is expected to become a stand-alone company in 2019.
China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) bought Syngenta. Syngenta now exists as a subsidiary of ChemChina.
Bayer acquired Monsanto for US$63-billion. Monsanto’s name was dropped, and the joint company is now called Bayer.
More mergers and changes continue. For example, the Chinese chemical
company SinoChem is expected to acquire ChemChina, to create the world’s
largest chemical company.
Canada and other governments had to approve the mergers before they were finalized:
The markets for genetically engineered (also called genetically modified or GM) crops are dominated by four giant seed and agrochemical companies. Before Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018, Monsanto was the world’s largest seed and biotechnology company, and Bayer was the world’s second-largest agrochemical company. Four companies now control 67% of the global seed market and 70% of the global pesticide market.
The two largest seed companies, Bayer and Corteva (DowDuPont), now control 54% of the global commercial seed market.
The two largest agrochemical companies, Bayer and Syngenta, now control 47% of the global agrochemical market.
Bayer, after buying Monsanto, owns 33% of the seed market and 23% of the agrochemical market.
ChemChina-Syngenta now owns the largest market share of agrochemicals at 23.5%.
DowDuPont’s new agricultural division, Corteva Agriscience, owns 21.3% of the global seed market and 11.3% of the agrochemical market.
BASF now owns 12.4% of the agrochemical market,
after buying assets from Bayer that Bayer was required to divest in
order to purchase Monsanto. BASF now owns Bayer’s glufosinate-ammonium
herbicide (brand name “Liberty”) products and the GM “Liberty Link”
seeds that are tolerant to it.
The company FMC now owns 4.6% of the agrochemical market, after
buying the pesticide assets DuPont had to sell in order to get
regulatory approval from the European Union for its merger with Dow.
These companies control most of the genetic engineered seeds planted in Canada and around the world:
Of the 33 GM herbicide-tolerant crops approved for growing in Canada
that could be on the market (there is no government tracking of
plantings): 22 are owned by Bayer, 6 by Corteva (DowDuPont), and 3 by
In 2007, before the new mergers, the six largest seed and
agrochemical companies (Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow, Monsanto, and
DuPont) accounted for over 98% of all GE crop acres in the world.
Monsanto’s GE traits were approximately 85% of the total GE acreage.
Between 1996, when the first GE seeds were introduced, and 2011, the
market share of the world’s three largest seed companies more than
doubled, from 22% to 53%. The share of the top three agrochemical
companies grew from 33% to 52.5% in the same period.
Several of these companies also regularly “cross-license” or share
their patented traits with each other, reinforcing their market power.
About half of all commercial GM seeds with stacked traits are the result
of cross-licensing between companies.
What kind of agriculture do we really want? How sustainable, regional, animal-friendly and expensive can it be? These and other pressing issues are part of a debate about radical agricultural reform of policy currently going on in Brussels.
When negotiations on the common agricultural policy from 2020 are held in Brussels, one of the more contentious issues will be how to redistribute 60 billion Euros in EU agricultural subsidies. How will MEPs prioritize their options? Will they reach independent decisions or cave in to the big agricultural conglomerates and special interest groups? Our exclusive report uncovers their close ties with politicians in both Brussels and Berlin and shows how efforts to make farming more environmentally sustainable are being stymied.
The true cost of cheap, unhealthy food is a spiralling public health crisis and environmental destruction, according to a high-level commission. It said the UK’s food and farming system must be radically transformed and become sustainable within 10 years.
The commission’s report, which was welcomed by the environment secretary, Michael Gove, concluded that farmers must be enabled to shift from intensive farming to more organic and wildlife friendly production, raising livestock on grass and growing more nuts and pulses. It also said a National Nature Service should be created to give opportunities for young people to work in the countryside and, for example, tackle the climate crisis by planting trees or restoring peatlands.
“Our own health and the health of the land are inextricably intertwined [but] in the last 70 years, this relationship has been broken,” said the report, which was produced by leaders from farming, supermarket and food supply businesses, as well as health and environment groups, and involved conversations with thousands of rural inhabitants.
“Time is now running out. The actions that we take in the next 10 years are critical: to recover and regenerate nature and to restore health and wellbeing to both people and planet,” said the commission, which was convened by the RSA, a group focused on pressing social challenges.
The commission said most farmers thought they could make big changes in five to 10 years if they got the right backing.
Food industry monopolists are behind the dismal economic reality of rural America.
According to data compiled by the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2012, the four largest food and agriculture companies controlled 82 percent of the beef packing industry, 85 percent of soybean processing and 63 percent of pork. Market concentration drives up the prices that farmers pay for inputs, such as seeds, and forces them to accept lower prices due to the lack of any pretense of a competitive marketplace.
Farmworkers – according to some estimates numbering approximately three million – are forced to work for next to nothing as the landowners that employ them receive prices that are well below the cost of production. The inequity of the market that oppresses farmers and farmworkers does not benefit consumers either. According to Food and Water Watch, the prices that consumers pay at the grocery store have remained steady as those who produce our food struggle to make ends meet.
Not everyone in the food industry is hurting. In 2018, Brazilian agribusiness giant JBS, the world’s leading beef and pork processor, Land O’Lakes, a major player in dairy processing and seeds, grain marketer Cargill and the meat processor and marketer, Tyson, all increased their profits over the 2017 fiscal year.
Many of these same actors have been accused of breaking antitrust laws. Recently, Tyson, Cargill, and JBS have been accused of fixing prices to increase profit margins at the expense of farmers and ranchers. In another settlement, Tyson agreed to an out of court payment to food system workers for wage theft. Land O’Lakes, has also settled out of court for fixing prices on eggs and milk, while Dean Foods, paid dairy farmers millions just a few years ago for price fixing.
The economy is rigged and Washington has done nothing outside of the $12 billion “farmer aid package” that was issued in 2018, and yet another ad hoc $16 billion bailout that was announced May 23rd. With a final twist of the knife, the USDA eliminated the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), and with it, any hope for anti-trust enforcement in the meatpacking industry.
Truth is, farmers don’t want to put taxpayers on the hook. Farmers want fair trade and an end to Trump’s tariffs, a personal fight that has created uncertainty in the marketplace. The Booker/Pocan/Tester Bill is a start, but more can be done. The Democratic candidates need to talk about corporate concentration and antitrust seriously, starting with the Progressive Era Sherman, Clayton and Federal Trade Commission Acts. Over one hundred years ago, these laws were created to investigate and punish corporations for anti-competitive practices — such as mergers, price fixing and rigging contracts.
The Reagan administration, challenged the federal government’s antitrust philosophy, claiming that “bigger was better,” and that relaxing antitrust law enforcement would benefit everyone. Since the Reagan era, efforts to dismantle antitrust enforcement have been put on steroids in every sector of the economy. We know how the game has played out. Corporations cash in as farmers and farmworkers see their incomes plummet, and consumers get swindled at the grocery store.
The Department of Justice – at the federal and state levels must launch serious investigations into the illegal practices of agribusiness corporations, including the effects of mergers and acquisitions on food system workers. Next, breaking up corporations must be seriously considered – this means overturning past mergers, as well as looking into breaking up the corporate processors, retailers, and distributors that currently control the food system.
Anti-trust enforcement, like the greed it seeks to beat down, is never ending . The enforcement of anti-trust laws means continual oversight and regulation of corporate practices. This will require increased funding for the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to support a staff committed to public, not corporate service.
For decades Democrats and Republicans have let corporate concentration and power grow, while the incomes of farmers and farmworkers shrink. We have seen a steady erosion of regulation, when we need more of it. It’s heartening that the Democrats have realized that rural America is out there, and that market concentration is a very real problem. Taking on the monopolists is a serious task; now, it’s up to the Democrats to decide if they are truly willing to invest in our food system and rural America.
Anthony Pahnke is the Vice President of the Family Farm Defenders and Assistant Professor of International Relations at San Francisco State University.