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Who Controls Our Food?


#1

Who Controls Our Food?

Nick Dearden

Sympathy with organic food production is at an all-time high. Perhaps ‘It’s a nice idea, when you can afford it’ sums up the approach of many people. But extending these principles of production to the whole food system? It just doesn’t seem practical. There are an awful lot of people to feed in the world and, if you’re hungry, you don’t care much about the niceties of how the food was produced.


#2

The Aid, Donor, and Investment community is not interested in the well-being of rural Africa but rather in their own happiness. The Aid community sees Africa as an exotic vacation with a little delegation of work on the side for a feather in their career track; the Donor community, a chance to have conferences and drinks with the local power elite; the Investment community, a chance to make money for themselves with a little, but not too much, to trickle down.

Africa is a mosaic of cobbled together (in 1885, in Berlin) countries of diverse tribes made dependent on central governments through policies that have stolen their commons land and given them to investors. It is a vast continent of extractive industry where the original habitants are now laborers on their ancestral land that once provided all their food with the space and time to develop profound cultural identities and lives that were themselves works of art.

Africa is a place of active cultural genocide and industrial agriculture is an accelerant.


#3

Its true that thousands of varieties of sorghum has been breeded over millenia in Africa and feeds millions of rural folk in Africa. There's no need for ge sorghum. Just go find the variety with the desired traits and grow it! "Westerners" by and large do not eat sorghum products and so its not a crop that can be profitably exported. I've heard that townsfolk in Africa do not care for sorghum products either but there are efforts to change that to help rural farmers find a market so they can do more than just subsistence farm. The encroachment of the Western lifestyle is what's creating the problems here not that Big Ag cares.


#5

If we look about us the war against the first peoples is almost complete. Corporate Agri-Business has destroyed indigenous farmers in India, Africa and elsewhere and then making a land grab. Here in North America the First Peoples who in theory still have sovereign rights over their land and able to govern themselves can't keep the oil and mineral companies from extracting resources from their sacred land.

The war to claim the commons and privatized it is taking place in the intellectual realms of cyberspace via massive spying by governmental/corporate collaboration, and via trade agreements like TPP and TTIP which lay the legal ground work for transnational tribunals to have power over nation states. All these areas under attack have been described in books by Naomi Klien, Naomi Wolf and others.

But there is another war going on. It is the war for our gut. Gut as in Gut feeling! That war is being waged via the destruction of soil and the bacteria, fungus and other organisms that make it fertile. These same organisms are naturally what populate our gut and create our immune system. The immune system is another very important cognitive system. They are our connection to Gaia. They are the way we can know what is beneficial and what is not. The war against these organisms is the last field/domain that remains unclaimed by privatization. These organisms that sustain us and the earth do so with our long term well being their core cause for being. They are if you will the Little People of legend, and they could well be the connection to the Goddesses and Gods of this world and beyond. The Goddesses of legend and religion the world over.

We need to care for these beings and in learning to do so we repair our connection to the Earth/Gaia. We free ourselves of insanity and reconnect with the wisdom of the First peoples and in so doing reclaim our birthright to care for and protect each other and this sacred Earth. A book that may help you understand the central role of our gut in our cognition is called GAPS; Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Natasha Campbell-McBride MD.

Thanks for taking time to consider the above


#7

Your post is DRENCHED in market-driven Libertarianism.

You can't wrap your mind around the fact that local agricultural practices indeed CAN exceed the gen-tech industrialization of nature that fools who worship at the altar or profit can't understand. Their paychecks don't allow it.

Your paean to "free market capitalism" is drivel.

I'll bet the Koch Brothers (through one of their many "think tanks") pays you extra for making similar arguments in favor of purchasing health insurance on "the free market."


#8

I like (and largely agree) with the points that you make. However, the gut is not the last front... that would be space, the inner mind, and the places (yet to be understood) where the "two" intersect.


#9

I hear "Industry's Talking Points."

Make the person who opposes the corporate world view explain THEIR positions at length. Then, find any chink to exploit.


#10

Why how "patriarchal" to diminish the power of government--the ones we installed who were deemed "business friendly".

Next thing you know you'll be suggesting that the farmers plant something other than vegetables and grains, which of course, would be farty, unlike say, tubers, soy, grains, and other goverment-friendly crops, which create clean non-patriarchal farts.


#12

Here is an argument posed by folks in Brazil - where approximately 70% of food on the table comes from small scale farms. GMO and monoculture have been subsidized (as elsewhere) for export commodities. This takes a look at the dynamics and consequences


#14

Before I watch this documentary, I have to ask, if you are refuting my claim that technological development has improved the agriculture industry, what is your solution if someone has the gall to develops a technological devise (like the tractor) which renders labor intensive local agricultural work obsolete?

Before I answer your question, I feel it necessary to ask why you presume that I am 'refuting your claim'. This is to situate 'agriculture' under a rubric which utilizes metrics of industry, which in turn are determined by current perspectives on law, metrics of GDP (under substantial debate by those theoreticians who research, test and implement the theories of economy), and what we face in futures markets/export/import and foreign policy. I think it important to keep in mind the state of the global financial markets when considering agriculture, as these currently represent a dominant presence in policy making, and I would ask that you consider the implications in this framing. We should perhaps begin by recognizing that under discussion is an entire playing field of interrelated disciplines which include biology, chemistry, education, agronomy, ecology, pollution remediation and the societal resources, of the policy making criteria both human and financial and how they are or are not 'scalable'. These at the outset enable us to clarify
whether we are positing the initiation or closure of either discussing, agreeing
or disagreeing on any number of interrelated components.

Would you outlaw this technology for the sake of saving the local labor jobs? Would you have the police imprison that individual for the heinous crime of developing a novel devise that increases productivity, and allows for more output to be produced with fewer laborers?

Well, in turn, it must be asked, would you outlaw agroecological communities (of say 100 family farmers) from owning one set of the finest high-tech machinery because their scale neither needs nor makes sense for there to be an entire set for that community? Why is the framing based on an economic metric of expansion requiring all models to adhere, when we are looking at an agricultural sector that topographically, agriculturally, economically, in this instance that community of family farmers, already produces in abundance for a regionally stable larger economy? Would you outlaw technological innovations of small scale generated by this community?

To me, I would think that the fact that the agriculture sector of the US labor market has shrunk to approximately 1.1% in 2012 is a great example of how developed our economy is and how technological development has rendered highly labor intensive jobs obsolete.

I would again submit that these are statistics that reflect the 'industry' as defined according to what some might call 'conventional industrial agriculture' – and again keep in mind that the dominant industries have for nearly a century been making their determination on a constant growth metric, which in turn requires consideration of the financial metrics generated, and in turn export and foreign policy, all of which require demonstrable growth for reasons of financial metrics based on current economic theory and, unfortunately, a global financialization structure which faces irreducible realities: 1) massive scale fraud impacting societal stability; 2) dependency on making military sector expenditure both profitable and producing a constant growth profile to meet budgetary demands; 3) crumbling infrastructure; and last but not last, 4) a finite planet that, like it or not, plays a fundamental role in natural life. The conditions both urban and rural in turn represent an entire sphere of daily life situations, many of which are in crisis due to the inflexibility of policies that have eschewed fundamental metrics of scalability. Fortunately, humanity is known for its capacity to recognize inter-relational dynamics and producing innovative responses – they simply tend not to be covered by major media.

For example, we are certainly far better off with one tractor providing the same output that, say, 50 back-breaking laborers could produce 100 years ago. Those laborers have now been deployed in other higher-skilled industries where they are paid more than the wages they would otherwise have received for the low-skilled, health deteriorating manual agricultural work, while they also reap the benefits of the lower prices on the goods produced by the cost-reducing tractors.

Again, I would submit that scalability and flexibility in models and metrics not only would benefit, but are being proven to benefit in 1) capacity for adaptation; 2) innovation to meet a flagging industrial economy; 3) food sovereignty/security; 4) ecological restoration of degraded biomes; 5) reestablishing local economic integrity

  • Why else would wages and prosperity be higher in America than in developing nations that still only barely can survive on local farming?*

The percentage of Americans who experience this as daily reality is, according to detailed employment statistics that include those excluded from the official unemployment measurements is shrinking.

It's a pretty simple concept, yet its one that we, as Americans, take for granted everyday, as new technologies constantly arise around us, improving our lives exponentially.

And one of the questions is, where do the externalized costs of pollution, poverty, intense financial shenanigans, tax policy, health, education, social wellbeing and future ecological health – all of which are not static, but dynamic, and unlike the manner in which I have isolated them in this sentence, are interrelated. To what extent is the exponential improvement you note being generated on the backs of off-shored industrial activity and all of the dilemmas this represents. At the same time it is undeniable that we are and have been seeing wide scale urban deterioration, unemployment.

Would you outlaw, through legislating privatization, what has been held as a common good, the air, water and the infrastructure that provided the basis for societal life? Can you provide examples where privatization has resulted in costs savings for the good of the public that pays for it? What happens when society is denied the choice of dedicating its resources to a publicly held infrastructure the profit of which is societal wellbeing rather than private profit? Are we ultimately talking about dominant ideologies based on theory that carry the legacy of externalized metrics that have very real, tangible presence?


#16

And if you are against this abstract concept that you call "privatization," what kind of society are you envisioning is a better alternative than freedom and property rights?

Freedom, please define what you mean?

Lets look at the New World particularly what is now the USA. Prior to the benefits of privatization the Native Americans held the land in common ( In a tribal sense). Other than the bow and arrows, spears and family food preparation utensils which were made by that family the tribe held things in common.

Please show me how Indians have greater freedom now, do to privatization and theft of their land. Please show me how the water that flows in all the water sheds of Pre-Colombian North America are purer and safer to drink. How Native American health and welfare is enhanced?

The list of benefits that the Native Americans received via privatization should be long and varied. It should be easy to illustrate 10 or more benefits. The same arguments can be made for the African people prior to colonization by the Europeans. Please show how colonization and privatization by old Europe and now by Transnational corporations is making the lives of the African people so much better than it was before colonization.


#17

If I may speculate. The Buddha just prior to enlightenment had fasted so rigorously that he had nearly starved to death. Upon realizing that this was not the path, he struggled to bath himself in a nearby river. A short while later a new mother giving thanks for the healthy birth of her baby brought a bowl of fresh yogurt to offer to the Forest Gods. Mistaking Siddhartha for a forest god she offered the yogurt to him. He gave her thanks and said because of this gift he would be able to realize enlightenment.

After reading in part the GAPS book it occurred to me that Siddhartha needed all the cognitive systems humans embody in order to reach enlightenment. The three eyes; wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Wisdom the heart, knowledge the brain, and understanding the gut. Plus all the inter-connections between the three.

"Space and the inner mind and the places (yet to be understood)" are safe when our gut is restored. Our gut can only be fully restored when we care lovingly for the earth and all her creatures as did the Buddha and so many other beings of wisdom and compassion. Vandana Shiva being one than inspires me, there are many more.

Naomi Wolf is suggesting that women have an additional system of cognition via vagina. So much to learn and be in awe of.