- js reader version
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
by Annette Groth
Wednesday, Jul. 09, 2008 at 1:28 AM
Like many other countries, Kenya provided its own staple foods until the 1980s. Today the country imports 80% of its food. To buy up the entire grain harvest of the US, only 0 billion is needed-a small amount for speculators on currency market
HUNGER, “GREEN GENETIC-ENGINEERING” AND SPECULATION
Today’s Food Crisis is not a Natural Disaster
By Annette Groth
[This article published in: ak – analyse & kritik, 6/25/2008 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.linksnet.de/artikel.php?id=3752. Annette Groth is a development policy spokesperson for DIE LINKE, the new German Left party in the Bundestag.]
The current discussions on the food crisis and the role of agriculture in the countries of the South offer many good arguments for a socially and ecologically sustainable agricultural policy. That the export-oriented agro-industry controlled by mammoth corporations could extensively transform and subjugate agriculture under its control and under conditions of capitalist exploitation is a great danger. Reviving the Green revolution that failed in Africa in the 1990s is also a great danger.
One main reason for the failure of the Green Revolution was the decline in public funds and development assistance for the agricultural sector. Agricultural promotion concentrated on export products like coffee, cocoa and later cut-flowers, fruits and other products with “location advantages.” Food imports from the US and the European Union (EU) have low prices through subsidies. Forced tariff reductions on import products drive many indigenous farmers into bankruptcy. Thus many African countries rapidly fall into a vicious circle with promotion of the agricultural sector, cultivation of food for their own population and falling world market prices for coffee reducing income. The example of Kenya shows the extent of the mis-development. Like many other countries, Kenya provided itself with staple foods up to the 1980s. Today the country imports 80 percent of its food.
In July 2004 former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan appealed to the international community to create a new African Green revolution. In September 2006, the Bill-and-Melinda foundation with the Rockefeller foundation launched an “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.” Jacques Diof, head of the UN FAO agricultural program, urged its support. The center of gravity of this “revolution” is PASS (Program for Africa’s Seed Systems), a program for national and international agricultural research to breed at least 200 new seed varieties within the next five years. “The promising possibilities in bio-technology” should be used in cooperation with agricultural corporations like Monsanto.
“WHOEVER CONTROLS FOOD CONTROLS PEOPLE”
The appeal of UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon in April 2008 shows the great danger that the food crisis can now be used for spreading genetically-engineered seed and foods (GMOs). Like his predecessor, Ban Ki Moon promotes the use of genetically-altered seed because it supposedly guarantees higher yields. The UN makes itself the agent of agricultural corporations pursuing the goal of the greatest possible diffusion of GMOs.
The introduction of GMOs was already controversial during the 2002 food crisis in southern Africa. At that time the US wanted to deliver 500,000 tons of corn to Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The governments at that time refused to accept the gift because genetic corn was involved. The pressure from the World Bank and the IMF on Malawi to sell its massive corn supply for debt reduction was insidious. When the crisis was striking in 2001, Malawi adjusted its corn supply to cushion the food crisis. Like today, speculators bought up the supply for a song and sold that supply later at high prices. At that time the former director of the IMF and current president of Germany, Horst Kohler, and the World Bank blamed each other for the “compulsory auctions” in Malawi. During the crisis, the IMF and the World Bank demanded cancellation of all subsidies for food and agriculture from the Malawi government as a condition for development- and relief assistance. According to the argument, the market should determine the price of food. What would be the reaction in Germany today if the president of Germany demanded cancellation of all subsidies?
The success of the “genetic campaign” in Africa is manifest with cotton. After Burkina Faso, Mali is Africa’s largest cotton producer and started a five-year program to introduce GMOs. Monsanto, Syngenta and USAID are the leaders. “Trans-gene plants are accepted in Africa. The battle is won,” said Pedro Sanchez, former chairperson of the UN Hunger task force and GMO lobbyist. In South Africa, the genetic lobbyists were also successful. Importers of genetic wheat do not need any special import license any more to import a genetic product allowed in the US.
The arguments for the alleged advantages of genetically-modified agricultural products are easy to refute. Genetic food is not cheaper. On the contrary, genetic corn in the US is a third more expensive than conventional corn. With some genetic plants, the use of agricultural chemicals has to be increased because destructive weeds are resistant. The yield is often not higher. The Office for Technology Assessment of the German Bundestag concluded a benefit from GMOs cannot be proven. A former Monsanto representative explained the use of GMOs: “Monsanto wants world domination over all food.” In the 1970s, Henry Kissinger declared: “Whoever controls oil can control all nations; whoever controls food controls people.”
Today only five conglomerates dominate 90 percent of the world grain market. The two market leaders Cargill and ADM alone control 65 percent of the worldwide trade. Global supermarket chains like Carrefour, Metro, Wal-Mart, Ahold and Tesco also on the food market today and increasingly control the food market as middlemen and retailers. They pressure producers to receive less and less for their products. In India there is already a great wave of protest against these attempts at market rule because ten million retailers and intermediaries could lose their income through the supermarket chains.
AGRICULTURAL CONGLOMERATES IN THE “GENETIC CAMPAIGN” IN AFRICA
The new edition of the so-called Green revolution is a real threat for the informal seed sector of small farmers who for a long while covered up to 90 percent of the worldwide need. Seed is exchanged or purchased cheaply on informal seed markets. The system of cheap seed utilization possible for everyone should be replaced by a formal seed distribution system controlled by multinational conglomerates. The call to a “Green Revolution in Africa” is the attempt to subjugate Africa’s agriculture not yet completely integrated in the global value-creation chain to the commercialization conditions of the capitalist world market.
Biofuels are now denounced in connection with the current food crisis. It is estimated that 30 to 70 percent of the price increases for food can be referred back to the intensified cultivation of plants for production of fuel. Despite growing criticism of promotion of biofuels by the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European energy agencies and numerous development assistance organizations, the EU still encourages the development of fuel. These subsidies should be cancelled. The EU environmental ministries only want to allow such biofuels in the future for which no rainforests would be cleared. In the future, biofuel should be restricted to prevent a shortage of food and higher food prices. In addition, the EU commission will only allow fuels that emit at least 35 percent less CO2 from production to consumption than fossil fuels.
SPECULATION WITH FOOD MUST BE PROHIBITED
The three church relief organizations Bread for the World, EEID and Misereor also insist the greatest potential for combating poverty and hunger lies in mixed cultivation, diversity of species and adjusted countries, not in monocultures and genetically-manipulated energy plants.
Massive resistance against growing biofuels comes especially from representatives of many civil societies in countries of the South. They emphasize that the consequences of growing export of bio-genetic fuels include the violent expulsion of small farmers and indigenous people from their land, not only increasing deforestation of rainforests, a structurally-poor intensive farming monoculture and increasing water shortage. This land is now used for the production of biofuels instead of sugar cane and palm oil. For these people, the often violent expulsion represents a massive violation of their human rights.
“Bio-sprit” (biofuel) is also criticized for ecological reasons. Scientific studies show that more greenhouse gases are often emitted through the planting of corn, rapeseed oil and palm oil than is saved through the fuel gained from the plants. The production of biofuels can even drastically accelerate climate change. More than 400 times as much carbon dioxide arises through the fire clearing in Indonesia than can be saved every year with palm oil produced on the same acreage. The Brazilian rainforest sacrificed for soy plantation releases 300 times more CO2 than is saved per year with biosprit. The production of ethanol from corn doubles the emission of greenhouse gases for 30 years. If one takes into account the industrial growing of plants, fertilizing, production and transport, the environmental balance all in all is negative,” Greenpeace says.
Weak social groups like women, youths and pastoralists (people living from livestock breeding) were expelled from the land through the increased commercialization of landed property for industrial food production and bio-energy, private game parks and other tourist facilities. Some non-governmental development assistance organizations rely on customary law to give these groups a legally secure access to land and other resources. This could also prevent the land robbery, that is the expulsion of people from their land by national elites and/or foreign corporations. In addition, the increasing speculation on real estate would be stopped.
The food crisis shows the connection between hunger, financial markets and stock exchange speculation. US and European pension funds invest their funds in raw materials. Besides oil, this includes foods like soy, wheat, and corn. They don’t really buy these products but acquire futures contracts that are sold just before the due dates to buy new contracts with new terms. “They act like virtual hoarders or panic buyers,” comments Jeffrey Korzenik, chief investment strategist of Boston property manager Vitale Caturano & Co on this stock exchange-hunger madness. Korzenik insists the virtual stockpile of big investors inflates the prices on the raw material markets. This price spiral could turn even more as we see with the constantly soaring oil price. To buy up the entire US grain harvest, only 0 billion is needed according to estimates – a small sum for the speculators on the currency market where trillion is moved every day.
The global distribution of food by the world market may not be allowed any more. Speculation on food is a crime and should be prohibited. The Indian government recognized this and prohibited all futures contracts on wheat, rice, a bean variety and herbs. This prohibition was recently extended to soybean oil, potatoes and (India) rubber. This example should set a worldwide precedent. Whoever makes profits through hunger is complicit in the deaths of thousands of people.
Report this post as:
GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE
lausd whistle blower
Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images
UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light
Change Links April 2018
Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018
Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018!
Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018!
Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A.
Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released
Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups
After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video
Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights
What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It
Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down
Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29
Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf
Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development
Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine
Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents
Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters
City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre
Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling
Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present
Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police
LA Times Homicide Report
More Local News...
Paraphysique de la dictature étatique
Book Review: "The New Bonapartists"
The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia
Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine
The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally!
“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize!
The World Dependent on Central Banks
Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine
March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update
Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel
ICE contract with license plate reader company
Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes
Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges
Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes
Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety
Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man
Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes
Paraphysique de l'autorité
Two Podcasts on fbi corruption
Fbi assassins assault & try to kill DAVID ATKINS
EPA Head Scott Pruitt: Of Cages And Sirens
The Shortwave Report 04/06/18 Listen Globally!
Nicaraguas Conflic with native Peoples on the Caribbean Coast Near Bluefields in Decade80
Millions Boycott The Sponsors Of Laura Ingraham
THE CONSERVATIVE THREAT
The US, the Dollar, IS and Saudi Arabia
More Breaking News...