“You better eat everything on your plate, dear. There are children starving in Africa.”
How many kids in first world countries have likely heard their mom utter that phrase at the dinner table at least once? It may be an overused image, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. There really are lots of starving children in Africa.
Well, this week Secretary of State John Kerry took to the podium at the U.S.—Africa Leaders Summit to say that Africans shouldn’t build more farms because that would contribute to man-made global warming through a process that “releases significant amounts of carbon pollution”.
No, instead, they should just make existing lands “more productive”:
“And now another part of this story is that certain agricultural processes can actually release carbon pollution and help contribute to the problem in the first place — it’s a twisted circle… But we also know there are ways to change that. For example, rather than convert natural areas to new farmland, a process that typically releases significant amounts of carbon pollution, we can instead concentrate our efforts on making existing farmlands more productive. This is an area where African leaders have actually been ahead, and significantly ahead of the game for some time.”
On the surface, what Kerry is proposing sounds almost passable as a potentially smart idea, doesn’t it? Don’t build any new farms which may not be very productive and instead, just put all existing resources into making existing farms “more productive”.
If only it was that simple and that advice was coming from someone who wasn’t a Skull and Bones tool of the U.S. corporate establishment, it might be easier to even attempt to consider it in a positive light.
However, when dealing with anything modern agriculture, it’s been made all too clear that the phrase “more productive” has been hijacked and is just another way of saying genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Setting the Agenda 21 slant embedded in Kerry’s statement aside for the moment, the U.S.-oriented emphasis on genetically modified big agribusiness is just what Kerry and the rest of the Obama Administration are pushing here.
In 2012, the White House and USAID introduced the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition at the G8, ostensibly to end hunger in Africa — though critics quickly slammed it for slashing aid funds and promoting corporate agriculture interests (such as Monsanto and Syngenta).
Critics in Africa dubbed it a new form of colonialism, horrified at the rewriting of laws to favor private agribusiness investment. According to the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-supported] London Guardian, “African governments agreed to change seed, land and tax laws to favour private investors over small farmers.” In essence, the brunt of the program would result in “assisted” small farmers being forced into dependence on purchasing private GMO seeds and boutique hybrids, unable to save seeds and in debt to purchases for farming equipment, training, etc.
The Organic Consumers Association tore apart the 2012 agreement, pointing out the basic flaws in the program, and its uneven gains for corporate partners:
“Study after study has shown that organic, agro-ecological farming practices on small diverse farms can boost yields in Africa and the developing world from 100-1000% over the yields of chemical-intensive or genetically engineered mono-crop farms. To help the world’s two billion small farmers and rural villagers survive and prosper we need to help them gain access, not to genetically engineered seeds and expensive chemical inputs; but rather access to land, water, and the tools and techniques of traditional, sustainable farming: non-patented open-pollinated seeds, crop rotation, natural compost production, beneficial insects, and access to local markets. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) reduce crop yields, and increase pesticide use, even according to USDA statistics. Bill Gates, Monsanto, and Barack Obama may believe that genetic engineering and chemical-intensive agriculture are the tools to feed the world, but a look at the fatal harvest of modern agribusiness tells a different story. Not only can climate-friendly, healthy organic agriculture practices feed the world, but in fact organic farming is the only way we are going to be able to feed the world.”
Moreover, the governmental New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is essentially only mirroring the aims of the Bill Gates and Rockefeller Foundation aims, which are inherently tied to these corporate agribusiness “solutions”. Their AGRA Alliance (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) — co-founded by the Gates Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation in 2006 — uses the Trojan Horse of philanthropic aid to break government and societal barriers to the entrance of Big Agra, along with adoption of their genetically modified technological as “the” solution to poverty.
Of course, it goes without saying that these “do-gooder” billionaires are some of the biggest shareholders in these very firms. It was publicized, for starters, that Bill Gates owns some 500,000 shares in Monsanto. The Rockefeller involvement and ownership in agriculture, biotech, vaccines, and medicine is deep indeed, and could be the subject of endless study of their philanthropy and foreign policy intervention over the past century. To point out one qualifier of this claim, here is an open letter Monsanto sent to the Rockefeller Foundation in 1999 (when their GMO grip on the world’s agriculture was still solidifying) thanking them for advising the biotech giant on the creation of terminator seed technology, and more generally in pushing genetically modified crops as a “solution” to feeding the world.
Worse, African farmers are being violently pushed off their land and having their houses burned to the ground, thereby being further impoverished and all in order to grow biofuels for “renewable” energy, and even worse, to plant trees to offset carbon emissions and assuage First World green guilt!
So, instead of Africans building any new small farms and perhaps finding a way to become self-sustaining, they should rely on the U.S. government’s targeted building up of industrial mega farms there, just like we have here in the U.S., and fill those babies up to the brim with GMO.
Because, by the way, that model of zero self-sufficiency is also working out just swell here, where only 2% of the country grows all the food for the other 98%, Big Ag companies like Monsanto are self-regulated and practically own our government, our grocery stores are filled with heavily processed, chemical-laden garbage, and it’s hard to find anything that hasn’t been grown with a multitude of synthetic, carcinogenic pesticides or, in the case of livestock, been injected with antibiotics and endocrine-disrupting hormones before being stuffed full of GMO in the ethical nightmare that is a CAFO lot.
The word “sustainable” has been hijacked too, but regardless, the heavily industrialized, chemical-dependent way America farms is anything but the definition of sustainable. “Bigger is better” is a total myth when it comes to farm efficiency. Studies have shown that smaller farms actually produce more output with less (ever-increasing) chemical inputs. The giant farms we have here are growing mostly GMO corn and soybeans, the majority of which is going to feed livestock on CAFO lots and for biofuel production, not direct nutrition on dinner plates. Check out the article Small Farms, Not Monsanto, Are Key to Global Food Security for more on that.
Not to mention that America is a country that outspends every other nation on Earth for healthcare by far — we spend 18% or more of our entire GDP on it — and yet, somehow the nation has now fallen to 42nd for life expectancy at birth when compared to the rest of the world. The numbers of cases of type II diabetes, obesity, auto-immune disorders and cancer are all rising on a perpetual J curve. The sick are getting sicker and there are more sick people here all the time.
Maybe the U.S. isn’t the model the rest of the world should follow when it comes to farming and eating. Although, obviously the United States, with all its corporate-backed GMO “food aid” has absolutely zero interest in any nation it “helps” (including itself) ever gaining food security.
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