Industrial agriculture is increasingly dominating the world market. It’s forcing small farmers to quit and taking over vast swathes of land. This documentary shows how destructive the lucrative agribusiness is.
Whether in the USA, Brazil, Mozambique or China, agricultural giants rule the market. Food production has become a gigantic business as climate change and population growth continue. This is having devastating consequences for small farmers and for the environment. On the banks of North Carolina’s New River, there’s a vile stench. Clean water activist Rick Dove takes a flight to show us what’s causing the smell. Scores and scores of pigs are living upriver, in so many pens the farms look more like small towns. “We have eight to ten million pigs here. And the problem is that they are kept so close together and their excrement pollutes and threatens the water and natural life on the North Carolina coastline.” From above, you can see large cesspools everywhere, shimmering red-brown in the sun. Dove is giving us a bird’s-eye view of industrialized agriculture. In the late 1970s, companies in the US began to industrialize farming. Large corporations like Smithfield built entire value chains, from raising livestock to slaughter to packaging and sales. A Chinese holding company bought Smithfield a few years ago. Industrial meat production is supposed to support increased Chinese demand for meat as the country’s prosperity grows. Dan Basse is the head of a company analyses global agriculture. He says calorie demand will also increase in countries like India, Bangladesh and Nigeria in the next few years.” And with it, the demand for even more inexpensive meat of the kind agribusinesses produce and market.
Opendox SE – Stockholm the 9th of April 2014 – Posted by CCFSH Apr 10, 2019
The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation
One of the most important video lectures you will ever see on the history of the GMO industry and their agenda…CCFSH.
Opendox.se and Anarchos present F. William Engdahl’s lecture about GMO – genetically modified organisms; Monsanto; international politics of patenting plants and animals; central governance of all food production; controlling human birth rates and depopulation programs.
F. William Engdahl (born August 9, 1944) is an American German freelance journalist, historian and economic researcher. After earning a degree in engineering and jurisprudence from Princeton University in 1966 (BA), and graduate study in comparative economics at the University of Stockholm from 1969 to 1970, he worked as an economist and free-lance journalist in New York and in Europe. His first book was called A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order. In 2007, he completed Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation. Engdahl is also a frequent contributor to the website of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
Anarchos is a Swedish publishing house which provides works with alternative world views and ideas from authors and researchers like F. William Engdahl, David Icke, Bill Still and many more – often translated from to Swedish.
The early 2008 food price crisis has often been wrongly associated with the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. The number of hungry in the world was said to have risen to over a billion, feeding a resurgence of neo-Malthusianism.
Agribusiness advocates fed such fears, insisting that food production must double by 2050, and high-yielding industrial agriculture, under the auspices of agribusiness, is the only solution. In fact, the world is mainly fed by hundreds of millions of small-scale, often called family farmers who produce over two-thirds of developing countries’ food.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, neither food scarcity nor poor physical access are the main causes of food insecurity and hunger. Instead, Reuters has observed a “global grain glut,” with surplus cereal stocks piling up.
Meanwhile, poor production, processing and storage facilities cause food losses of an average of about a third of developing countries’ output. A similar share is believed lost in rich countries due to wasteful food storage, marketing and consumption behavior.
Nevertheless, despite grain abundance, the 2018 “State of Food Security and Nutrition” report — by the Rome-based United Nations food agencies led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) — reported rising chronic and severe hunger or undernourishment involving more than 800 million.
Political, philanthropic and corporate leaders have promised to help struggling African and other countries grow more food, by offering to improve farming practices. New seed and other technologies would modernize those left behind.
But producing more food, by itself, does not enable the hungry to eat. Thus, agribusiness and its philanthropic promoters are often the problem, not the solution, in feeding the world.
“Eating Tomorrow” addresses related questions such as: Why doesn’t rising global food production feed the hungry? How can we “feed the world” amid rising populations and unsustainable pressure on land, water and other natural resources that farmers need to grow food?
Family Farmers Lack Power
Drawing on five years of extensive fieldwork in Southern Africa, Mexico, India and the U.S. Midwest, Wise concludes that the problem is essentially one of power. He shows how powerful business interests influence government food and agricultural policies to favor large farms.
This is typically at the expense of “family” farmers, who grow most of the world’s food, but also puts consumers and others at risk, e.g., due to agrochemical use. His many examples not only detail and explain the many problems small-scale farmers, but also their typically constructive responses despite lack of support, if not worse, from most governments:
In Mexico, trade liberalization following the 1993 North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) agreement swamped the country with cheap, subsidized U.S. maize and pork, accelerating migration from the countryside. Apparently, this was actively encouraged by transnational pork producers employing “undocumented” and non-unionized Mexican workers willing to accept low wages and poor working conditions.
In Malawi, large government subsidies encouraged farmers to buy commercial fertilizers and seeds from U.S. agribusinesses such as now Bayer-owned Monsanto, but to little effect, as their productivity and food security stagnated or even deteriorated. Meanwhile, Monsanto took over the government seed company, favoring its own patented seeds at the expense of productive local varieties. A former senior Monsanto official co-authored the national seed policy that threatens to criminalize farmers who save, exchange and sell seeds instead.
In Zambia, greater use of seeds and fertilizers from agribusiness tripled maize production without reducing the country’s very high rates of poverty and malnutrition. Meanwhile, as the government provides 250,000-acre “farm blocks” to foreign investors, family farmers struggle for title to farm land.
In Mozambique too, the government gives away vast tracts of farm land to foreign investors. Meanwhile, women-led cooperatives successfully run their own native maize seed banks.
Iowa promotes vast monocultures of maize and soybean to feed hogs and produce bioethanol rather than “feed the world.”
A large Mexican farmer cooperative launched an “agro-ecological revolution,” while the old government kept trying to legalize Monsanto’s controversial genetically modified maize. Farmers have thus far halted the Monsanto plan, arguing that GM corn threatens the rich diversity of native Mexican varieties.
Much of the research for the book was done in 2014-15, when Barack Obama was U.S. president, although the narrative begins with developments and policies following the 2008 food price crisis, during the last year of former President George W. Bush. The book tells a story of U.S. big business’ influence on policies enabling more aggressive transnational expansion.
Yet, Wise remains optimistic, emphasizing that the world can feed the hungry, many of whom are family farmers. Despite the challenges they face, many family farmers are finding innovative and effective ways to grow more and better food. He advocates support for farmers’ efforts to improve their soil, output and wellbeing.
Hungry farmers are nourishing their life-giving soils using more ecologically sound practices to plant a diversity of native crops, instead of using costly chemicals for export-oriented monocultures. According to Wise, they are growing more and better food, and are capable of feeding the hungry.
Unfortunately, most national governments and international institutions still favor large-scale, high-input, industrial agriculture. This neglects more sustainable solutions offered by family farmers, and the need to improve the wellbeing of poor farmers.
Undoubtedly, many new agricultural techniques offer the prospect of improving the welfare of farmers, not only by increasing productivity and output, but also by limiting costs, using scarce resources more effectively, and reducing the drudgery of farm work.
But the world must recognize that farming may no longer be viable for many who face land, water and other resource constraints, unless they get better access to such resources. Meanwhile, malnutrition of various types affects well over 2 billion people in the world, and industrial agriculture contributes about 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Going forward, it will be important to ensure affordable, healthy and nutritious food supplies for all, mindful not only of food and water safety, but also of various pollution threats. A related challenge will be to enhance dietary diversity affordably to overcome micronutrient deficiencies and diet-related non-communicable diseases for all.
Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, was United Nations assistant secretary-general for economic development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.