An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Laissez-faire Ethnic Cleansing
"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
"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."
The key point is that the "food crisis" is artificially induced by corporate agriculture in order to promote the deployment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). These GMOs guarantee profit to the major agribusinesses by forcing farmers to use patented organisms.
"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." - Ian Angus, "Global food crisis: Capitalism, agribusiness and the food sovereignty alternative"
Rather than "access to technology and science to boost yields", the peoples of the earth need access to compassion that would privilege the needs of the hungry over the guaranteed profits of agribusiness giants. Or to put the matter as plainly as possible: "The global food industry is not organized to feed the hungry; it is organized to generate profits for corporate agribusiness." - Ian Angus, "Global food crisis: Capitalism, agribusiness and the food sovereignty alternative" Creating profits for agribusiness has nothing to do with feeding the hungry of the world. On the contrary, promoting hunger is the business plan required to guarantee maximum profitability for the foreseeable future.
"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?" - Ian Angus, "Global food crisis: Capitalism, agribusiness and the food sovereignty alternative"
Because that's not what it is designed to do. But they have magnificently achieved the goals they were designed for:
"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.
* 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%
* Potash Corporation. Net income: $66 million, up 185.9%
* Mosaic. Net earnings: $520.8 million, up more than 1,200%"
Over the past three decades, transnational agribusiness companies have engineered a massive restructuring of global agriculture. Directly through their own market power and indirectly through governments and the World Bank, IMF and World Trade Organisation, they have changed the way food is grown and distributed around the world. The changes have had wonderful effects on their profits, while simultaneously making global hunger worse and food crises inevitable." - Ian Angus, "Global food crisis: Capitalism, agribusiness and the food sovereignty alternative"
The empire works by extracting value from all human and material resources and converting that value into financial assets. When the resources are agricultural, it uses extractive methods to produce the maximum amount of high profit margin crops and leaves human and ecological refuse behind for others to clean up or attempt to salvage. "We now practice farming as an extractive industry supported by other extractive industries: mining topsoil and fossil water, growing only a handful of predetermined 'high value' crops and discarding/exterminating all other cultivars, and seeking 'best price' in markets regardless of distance and appropriateness (if it makes more money to grow palm trees for biofuel to ship to wealthy customers overseas, then by all means destroy peasant smallholdings that produced food for local people, or forest that maintained water circulation and climate stability, in order to establish massive monocrop palm oil plantations)." - Stan Goff, "The Politics of Food is Politics"
Instead of food as commodity, food should be treated primarily as a source of nutrition for the communities and the countries where it is grown. By overcoming the lies which support the system of food domination, all the people on earth could be fed and impending capitalist ecocide averted. Charity means organizing for justice to all God's creatures, not gathering guilt-money from the anti-human exploiters who starve 18,000 children a day.