View Full Version : Capitalism, Agribusiness and the Food Sovereignty Alternative

05-12-2008, 06:29 AM
by Ian Angus

http://www.globalresearch.ca/coverStoryPictures/8949.jpg Global Research (http://www.globalresearch.ca/), May 11, 2008

"Nowhere in the world, in no act of genocide, in no war, are so many people killed per minute, per hour and per day as those who are killed by hunger and poverty on our planet." —Fidel Castro, 1998
When food riots broke out in Haiti last month, the first country to respond was Venezuela. Within days, planes were on their way from Caracas, carrying 364 tons of badly needed food.
The people of Haiti are "suffering from the attacks of the empire's global capitalism," Venezuelan president Hugo Chŕvez said. "This calls for genuine and profound solidarity from all of us. It is the least we can do for Haiti."
Venezuela's action is in the finest tradition of human solidarity. When people are hungry, we should do our best to feed them. Venezuela's example should be applauded and emulated.
But aid, however necessary, is only a stopgap. To truly address the problem of world hunger, we must understand and then change the system that causes it.
No shortage of food
The starting point for our analysis must be this: there is no shortage of food in the world today.
Contrary to the 18th century warnings of Thomas Malthus and his modern followers, study after study shows that global food production has consistently outstripped population growth, and that there is more than enough food to feed everyone. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, enough food is produced in the world to provide over 2800 calories a day to everyone — substantially more than the minimum required for good health, and about 18% more calories per person than in the 1960s, despite a significant increase in total population.[1]
As the Food First Institute points out, "abundance, not scarcity, best describes the supply of food in the world today."[2]
Despite that, the most commonly proposed solution to world hunger is new technology to increase food production.
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, aims to develop "more productive and resilient varieties of Africa's major food crops … to enable Africa's small-scale farmers to produce larger, more diverse and reliable harvests."[3]
Similarly, the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute has initiated a public-private partnership "to increase rice production across Asia via the accelerated development and introduction of hybrid rice technologies."[4]
And the president of the World Bank promises to help developing countries gain "access to technology and science to boost yields."[5]
Scientific research is vitally important to the development of agriculture, but initiatives that assume in advance that new seeds and chemicals are needed are neither credible nor truly scientific. The fact that there is already enough food to feed the world shows that the food crisis is not a technical problem — it is a social and political problem.
Rather than asking how to increase production, our first question should be why, when so much food is available, are over 850 million people hungry and malnourished? Why do 18,000 children die of hunger every day?
Why can't the global food industry feed the hungry?
The profit system
The answer can be stated in one sentence. The global food industry is not organized to feed the hungry; it is organized to generate profits for corporate agribusiness.
The agribusiness giants are achieving that objective very well indeed. This year, agribusiness profits are soaring above last year's levels, while hungry people from Haiti to Egypt to Senegal were taking to the streets to protest rising food prices. These figures are for just three months at the beginning of 2008.[6]
Grain Trading
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). Gross profit: $1.15 billion, up 55% from last year
Cargill: Net earnings: $1.03 billion, up 86%
Bunge. Consolidated gross profit: $867 million, up 189%. Seeds & herbicides
Monsanto. Gross profit: $2.23 billion, up 54%.
Dupont Agriculture and Nutrition. Pre-tax operating income: $786 million, up 21% Fertilizer
Potash Corporation. Net income: $66 million, up 185.9%
Mosaic. Net earnings: $520.8 million, up more than 1,200% The companies listed above, plus a few more, are the monopoly or near-monopoly buyers and sellers of agricultural products around the world. Six companies control 85% of the world trade in grain; three control 83% of cocoa; three control 80% of the banana trade.[7] ADM, Cargill and Bunge effectively control the world's corn, which means that they alone decide how much of each year's crop goes to make ethanol, sweeteners, animal feed or human food.


Dan McCosh
05-12-2008, 07:05 AM
A monopoly on fertilizer is a lousy $66 million a year business?

05-12-2008, 07:14 AM
potashcorp (http://www.potashcorp.com/investor_relations/company_profile/)

trading ~$200.00 nyse

The Bigfella
05-12-2008, 08:44 AM
Try another angle. If all the money spent on military expenditure went to food .........?

Guess which country is the #1 arms merchant.

S.V. Airlie
05-12-2008, 09:55 AM
Try another angle. If all the money spent on military expenditure went to food .........?

Guess which country is the #1 arms merchant.

I'll take a stab at this one.. umm Haiti right?;)

05-12-2008, 12:53 PM
Good on ya Mark for bringing this stuff to our attention. I say we boycott the bastards (ow, my stomach hurts. Anybody got an extra Hot Pocket?). Is it time yet to storm the Bastille?

George Roberts
05-12-2008, 01:25 PM
Always blame business. Blame big business. The bigger the better.

Food prices are still one of the best deals you can get. Oil is a better deal.

Should people starve? No. But a lot of people look around at their starving neighbors and continue to have too many more kids. When their behavior changes, we can help.

05-12-2008, 01:34 PM
uh , george , the bilge will now meet in secret, debate your personality flaws and come to a final decision

Dan McCosh
05-12-2008, 03:14 PM
potashcorp (http://www.potashcorp.com/investor_relations/company_profile/)

trading ~$200.00 nyse

600x in error--slight difference. interesting how it is still supposed to shock you.

George Roberts
05-12-2008, 03:56 PM
Popeye ---

I am in favor of secret meetings. Do what you need to do but ...

Please. Please. Don't lock me up in a seashore villa in the south of France.