Thursday, 8 January 2009

Monsanto's Chia Pet

Many US multinational businesses are struggling at the moment, though there's one that's doing exceptionally well on the stock market:
Monsanto Co., the world's biggest seed maker, said Wednesday its fiscal first-quarter profit more than doubled on higher sales to Latin America, and raised its expectations for the year. Shares soared $12.94, or 17.7 percent, to close at $86.16. The strong results came even during a dismal period in the global agricultural markets, with crop prices plunging from record highs hit this summer.
Of course, with the appointment of former Iowa governor and Monsanto pal Tom Vilsack to the position of Secretary of Agriculture, the corporation's business interests will surely be well protected.

Here are some thoughts regarding the global stranglehold that agribusiness corporations are enforcing on local and continental food suppliers, specifically the drive to establish their own genetically modified (GM) seeds and products.
Agro-chemicals cause desertification, deforestation, water depletion, loss of income (poverty) and hunger. Over 90% of African forest cover has been stripped away by agribusiness and loggers, mandated by the World Bank’s structural adjustment policies (SAP). The bulk of food is exported to pay off debt. ...

Intensive irrigation has left Africa in the midst of impending and imploding water wars; 72% of fresh water is used for monocrops, drastically depleting trans-boundary water basins. The US – 4% of global population — is the largest shareholder of the WB at 17% and the key beneficiary of resources, consuming over 60% of global resources. The remaining G8 control 40%. Ordinary Americans remain unaware of these policies; small and medium farmers in the US are rapidly disappearing due to loss of income … The system benefits corporate agribusiness alone.

In true Machiavellian-like style, gene giants have realised that patented sorghum and other indigenous crops, reduced to a few commercialised varieties, unravel the lynchpin of African agricultural security.

There are hundreds of sorghum varieties grown in Africa, from Tanzania to Nigeria, selectively bred for specific regions and climates. Sorghum, mainly grown in drier areas, is known for “drought resistant” qualities due to its genetic ability to retain water, and is vital for nutrition, fodder, and fibre eg sorghum straw is utilised for housing, biodegradable packaging etc. ...

Sorghum is the steak of emerging countries: more than 80% of protein is derived from plant products in countries like China, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and India. Sorghum is also one of many maize substitutes tapped for animal feed and biofuels required by the US flesh and energy industry. This is why Du Pont aims to donate seeds, replacing and contaminating traditionally saved seeds. And this is essentially the crux of the Second Green Revolution, initiated once again by the Rockefellers, the World Bank, and USAID amongst others like the Gates Foundation, the Syngenta Foundation – the arm of Syngenta, a major agri-multinational – etc.

USAID has stated that the aim of food aid is to “integrate technology and GM food into local markets” and promote US business. The First Green Revolution, instituted while Africa held a food surplus, injected over $28-billion over a period of 30 years toward implementing agro-chemicals and commercialised hybrid seed technologies. Probably not what Mendel – the father of the science of genetics — had in mind when he set about analysing peas in the garden monastery.

More about Tom Vilsack here.


Mike said...

Don't ya love "intellectual property"?

FWIW, there are a great many libertarians like myself that hold that there is no such thing as "intellectual property" and the use of patents and copyright to prevent competition and scientific use is wrong

Antonia Z said...

Stories like this is why I want to make food politics the issue of our time.

Anonymous said...

Canadians can sign the petition to get rid of Vilsack.

deBeauxOs said...

Clickable link to Organic Consumers Association for the petition mentioned above, here.

Beijing York said...

Thanks for the petition links.

ml johnstone said...

So glad you covered this! Did you know that Messieur Ignatieff voted against a private members bill ( a BLOC MP) to make mandatory labeling of GE/GMO containing products last spring?

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