Friday, January 31, 2020

What are we fighting for? What are we fighting against?

There is no shortage of food in the world today. Contrary to the the alarmists within the environment movement, study after study shows that global food production has consistently outstripped population growth, and that there is more than enough food to feed everyone. Despite that fact, the most commonly proposed solution to world hunger is new technology to increase food production. If there is already enough food to feed the world then that shows that the food crisis is not a technical problem — it is a social and political problem. Market economics and not technology has always been the main limiting factor to food production. We should be why, when so much food is available, are over hundreds of millions of people hungry and malnourished? We should be asking why do children die of hunger every day? Why can’t the global food industry feed the hungry?

The answer is a simple one. The global food industry is not organised to feed the hungry; it exists to make profits for agribusinesses. The enormous power exerted by the largest food corporations allows them to control the cost of their supplies purchased from farmers while at the same time keeping prices of food to the general public at high enough levels to ensure large profits. Fertile farmland that could be used to grow food for domestic consumption now grows cash-crops for export. The result has been that many countries which were once self-sufficient in food are using vital foreign currency reserves to now import much of their food.  Millions of people now must depend on food that’s grown thousands of miles away because their homeland agriculture has been transformed to meet the needs of agribusiness corporations. The shift towards more industrial agriculture such as soya and palm oil to produce ethanol for example has driven millions of people off the land and into unemployment and poverty in the immense slums that now surround many of the world’s cities. And it has also been at the cost of of poisoning water, polluting the land and exhausting the soil. Commercial farming continues not necessarily because it is more productive, but because it delivers profits and profit is what counts, not peoples hunger or the detrimental impact on the planet.

Karl Marx wrote that despite its support for technical improvements, “the capitalist system works against a rational agriculture … a rational agriculture is incompatible with the capitalist system.”

Today, the capitalist system puts profit ahead of human needs and has driven millions off the land,  and condemned almost a billion people to hunger and malnutrition. To feed the world’s population we must sweep away capitalism. It is capitalism, the laws of the market, that is killing so many people in the world. Malnutrition and hunger constantly threaten the working people of our world – unless the production and distribution of food is taken out of the hands of the capitalists and politicians. The burning question of food for the people is now clearly defined: Will the people eat – or will the food barons be allowed to accumulate profits as usual because the bosses of the food industry will not produce food except for profit? There is no other way. All production decisions are made by a tiny handful of capitalists, not in the interests of humanity, but purely for profit.

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