Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Capitalism: The Greatest Threat To Global Food Security

If you read nothing else today I recommend that you read this one. Katie Anderson exposes with great clarity many of the negatives of capitalism and how they contribute to the wide divisions we experience daily within this class divided global system. Below are a few cherry-picked paragraphs to whet the appetite. The first step in achieving socialism has to be increased awareness of just what is wrong with the way things stand now enabling the collective working class to envision the way things can be when they make the decision to get rid of capitalism once and for all. JS

The current Industrial mass production of food for profit is a political, economic and social crisis that has devastating effects on human health and threatens the survival of the planet. Certainly one of our most fundamental of human needs is our ability to grow and procure adequate nutrition. Yet over the past 50 years, Western societies, and particularly the United States, have radically shifted methods of growing and producing food for human consumption. Using the twin vehicles of destructive food policy implements and growing reliance upon industrialization and oil, this unsustainable model of food production continues to spread and grow unabated in an era of declining oil production and clean water availability.

This structure not only threatens the security of the entire global food system, but also threatens human health and destroys our environment. Then again, this information is not groundbreaking or novel. Scientists and independent research agencies have been sounding the alarms for years, with writers like Michael Pollan and the creators of food documentaries such as Forks over Knives and King Corn popularizing the food crisis in the mainstream. But beyond the political, social and almost celebrity status of eating well (that is eating locally grown, organic whole foods), what most food policy advocates and researchers have failed to do is identify and hold accountable the true cause of our broken food system: "free market" Capitalism.

From seed to supermarket, every stage of industrialized food production is owned, managed and manipulated by corporate conglomerates whose annual profits hover in the billions of dollars, more money than many developing nations' entire GDPs. Giant multinational corporate entities like Cargill, Nestle, Monsanto, ConAgra and Archer Daniels Midland have carefully crafted and promoted economies of scale that allow them to dominate domestic and international markets in such a way that only a handful of companies now control both price and supply.

In 2012 alone, US Agribusiness spent $137 million on lobbying efforts to promote corporate interests through the purchase of favorable legislation[i]. Aside from the political influence they wield in Washington, the funding of farm policies that ensure their continued power and freedom from government regulation is not confined to US borders. Corporate reach stretches even more insidiously into the financial industry, influencing the availability of credit in third world countries through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to promote these corporations' self-serving capitalistic interests[ii].
 Forced to sell the fruits of their labor at low and non-competitive prices, indigenous peoples literally become the slaves of both the corporate food producers at the top of the food system hourglass as well as the corporate food retailers, like Walmart and Kroger, who reside at the bottom of the hourglass. Squeezed in the middle are the exploited contracted growers, small farmers and laborers who sacrifice their land, health and livelihoods to produce the cheap unhealthy food Western societies have become reliant upon.
               Viewing nature solely in terms of profit-generation and ignoring the environmental limits of the natural world, capitalism in food production has caused a huge shift in how humans understand and consume food. As more people move to urban areas and become even further removed from their food sources, consumers are progressively more at the mercy of corporate food producers and mass retailers for their nutrition and food security. Walmart alone owns 44 percent of the US retail food market. Consequently, we have far less control over the quality and safety of our food supply and suffer as well as the ethical and environmental implications of how it was produced. Extractive capitalism transforms cheap raw materials like genetically modified corn, wheat and soy into more expensive convenience versions of food-like products from frozen dinners to fast food burgers and sugar-laden cereals.                          
A food system in which no one goes hungry and everyone has access to healthy food is a practical and obtainable goal. However, none of these notions fit into our current food system because ours is a system not based upon human need, but upon corporate profit.

 The origin of our food system crisis is that it's built upon "free-market" values; values which do not serve the interests of people or the planet. It is a capitalistically-based system reliant upon exponential growth and the consumption of limited, non-renewable resources. It is a system that is fundamentally and undeniably impossible to sustainable.

Read whole article here

No comments: