Sunday, January 23, 2011

Empty Promises of GMOs

"Sir" John Beddington (U.K. Chief Scientist) stated in reference to his report "The Future of Food and Farming" that GMOs were "the key to our survival".

His remarks are typical of proponents of GMOs, who claim that there is a shortage of food in the world, and that is why there are nearly a billion hungry people in the world (no one knows exactly how many malnourished) World Hunger Report. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is in fact a surplus of food in the world, even in hungry nations Plenty of Food Yet People Are Starving . Many nations export large amounts of food each year while their own people go hungry.

Economic Policies Real Reason For Starvation
Why is this happening? Well there are a few reasons, but one of the big ones is the IMF and World Banks Neo-Liberal Policies through structural adjustment programs. These programs are purportedly intended to lift third world nations out of poverty, instead they create dangerous dependencies that only further impoverish these nations.

One such example was Sudan in the early 90's droughts had hurt grain harvests and forced them them to take IMF loans. As a condition of these loans the Sudan was forced to produce cotton instead of food crops(before the drought they not only had enough food for their people they actually had a surplus they were exporting). The IMF also attached the condition that Sudan could not process the cotton. This forced Sudan to have to import food from Western Nations who had a surplus. Unfortunately raw unprocessed cotton was not a big money maker and Western  Nations and multi nationals worked to keep the price low. This meant Sudan had little money to import food items.

The second big reason many go hungry even though there is plenty of food in the world is food commodity price manipulation. Food commodity price manipulation happens because there is too much cheap fiat money chasing too few items. This money is in the hands of bankers and commodity traders long before it reaches the rest of us. These traders never actually take possession of physically food they simply speculate and drive up the price. This is far too complex to go into full detail here but if you go to or and "food price manipulation" you should get a bit more info.

A simple analogy to explain this is inflation versus wages. As you know inflation has been rising much faster than wages over recent years especially for those of lower incomes.  When you take into account leveraged buying of food commodities and local supply chain issues it is easy to see why food although abundant never gets to the poorest people at an affordable price.

Why GMOs Only Makes Things Worse
So you may say, so what there is enough food out there its just not affordable. What if we flood the market with even more food? Surely than it would be affordable.

Of course this statement above assumes a lot. It assumes that GMOs will deliver on all its grandiose promises, that the money supply will not continue to increase exponentially, and that there are not environmental and ethical concerns with GMOs.

For now lets put these issues aside and look at the multi national agricultural biotech company. Monsanto is one of the largest companies in the world. It is the largest produce of herbicides and one of the biggest producers of genetically engineered seeds. It is also very litigious it has been known to sue, or threaten sue farmers who have had genetically modified seeds from other farms blow over onto their crops.

The seeds they produce "self destruct" meaning the crops they produce don't produce new seeds so you have to buy more seeds from Monsanto. GM seeds are about creating dependencies like the IMF created dependencies in Sudan. Monsanto is like a slimy drug dealer trying to get the world hooked on their seeds. Also remember GMOs contaminate native organisms thus endangering the whole eco-sphere.

If Monsanto is able to push forward the concept of GMOs to feed the hungry they will corner the market. If they are able to do this they will literally have the control over life and death for billions of people. Should one corporation have this much power? Especially one with such a checkered past?

There Are Alternatives
So we have shown that the concept of a food deficit is false. Furthermore we have shown that reason why poor people go hungry in a world of plenty is due to neo-liberal policies and commodity manipulation fueled by cheap money. We have also seen that GMOs would likely make the situation worse. So what's the solution?

Well obviously technological advances that don't include genetically modifying organisms, patenting them, and controlling them with aggressive litigation will lead the way allowing us to produce more with less. There is also a simpler more environmental solution.

Cuba's organic revolution is the result of draconian U.S. trade policies along with the fall of the USSR which have kept even the most basic of chemicals and machinery off Cuba's shores. Cuba's response was the most successful organic farming program in the world. Cuba's Organic Revolution

Cuba's organic farming was based on a complex system of many small largely urban farms that produce massive outputs without the use of chemical fertilizers and machinery. They have developed new techniques to actually increase yields and prevent pest infestation without the aid of chemical herbicides and pesticides.

Unfortunately Cuba's program has not been duplicated yet on a large scale but it certainly provides hope for a less toxic world and shows GMOs to be an unnecessary expense.

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