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Global Food Production and Distribution

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Food Security

The International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), an intergovernmental panel under the sponsorship of the United Nations and the World Bank, adopted the following definitions:

“Food security [is] a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. (FAO, The State of Food Insecurity, 2001)

Food sovereignty is defined as the right of peoples and sovereign states to democratically determine their own agricultural and food policies.” [1]

These definitions were necessary to establish to describe principles for operation in the future as opposed to the drive to monopolize food production and distribution by a small number of immense multinational companies.[2] The effects of climate change increasing at the same time will amplify this problem; these corporations do not want to see their current operating model change (which would destroy their profit margins) and they also want to place themselves with monopolies over what will become scarce resources.  This starts to show why the resistance to change is strong, global and very well-funded.

Multinationals pushing neoliberal agendas globally have resulted in the economies of countries being made more subservient to export demands than producing food for their own population.[3]  This can be related to foods that draw high profits in western countries, such as tobacco, coffee and tea, or to non-food production such as biofuels.  The economic imperative to make profit above all concerns has resulted in local populations suffering as their wealth and produce is drained from the country without a significant return.  These activities led to what was called the global food crisis of 2008[4], which prompted a number of global organizations to publicly recognize the ongoing impacts of rising food prices globally.[5]  Despite warnings then and subsequently, little action has been taken by governments globally and the trigger point for a catastrophic crisis becomes closer and closer.[6]  The prices rises are not being caused by simple supply and demand economics; there are complex layers of securities trading, environmental impacts of extreme weather and political impacts of neoliberal governments.[7]

There is likely to be a particular resource conflict in the future between the desire to produce biofuels over production of edible food.[8]  This will be part of the conflict between using biofuels or energy sources that do not release carbon into the atmosphere.  These conflicts will manifest as issues of both food security and sovereignty as multinationals push for biofuel profits while citizens want to eat. There are newer approaches to producing biofuels that do not compete directly with food production and these need to be developed and explored in more detail.[9]

The question of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) is a part of this issue as the production of artificial, patentable, organisms provides these companies with a legal means to enforce their monopoly.[10] The real issue is not with the GMOs themselves, it is that they are being used to enforce a terrible monopoly and being released far too quickly into the wild. This rapid release of new organisms into the environment is the greatest danger to our food supply. The lesson of the cane toad in Australia serves as a permanent reminder for people claiming the causes of ‘science’ and ‘progress’ are best served by GMOs.[11]  Natural mutation will occur to change the nature of these plants and there is no guarantee this will be beneficial for humans or even for the plants themselves.  In fact, the agriculture industry used to irradiate seeds to force mutations and discovered the overwhelming majority were detrimental.  Wisdom tells us that GMO crops should be kept separate from current seed and food stocks until enough time and studies have been made to determine some level of predictability in results.  This means decades per new discovery to responsibly introduce them to natural world.

Monsanto is the best known of the companies imposing profit over people principles and has a long history of deceit, greed and manipulation of governments.[12] This particular organization forms a nexus point in describing precisely what is wrong with corporate laws, regulatory capture and the worship of profit and ‘growth’ as being the primary goals of humanity.[13]  They actively seek to annihilate food sovereignty such that they can control global food security and guarantee their profit margins and growth – at everyone else’s expense.  However, they are not the biggest company in the global agribusiness cartel controlling food production.  This market is dominated by other much larger multinationals including BASF, Bayer, Dupont, Dow Chemical Company and Syngenta.

Global Seed Industry

 

 

food supply control

Global food supply control

 

This,however, only covers raw food production.  The world of manufacturing and distributing retail food brands is dominated by another cartel known as the ‘big 10’. [14] This group includes Associated British Foods (ABF), Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International (previously Kraft Foods), Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever.  These companies deliberately obscure their supply network to make verification of their claims to sustainable fair trade almost impossible.  They frequently appear in the news as another travesty of corporate greed is revealed in another country that produces goods for them.

Map-world-food-security

Figure 4: Food Security Risk Index

The truth today is that enough crops are produced in 2013 to feed the ten billion people expected in 2050, but it is not distributed effectively.[15] It is simply wasted.[16] The answers do not lie within GMO crops either, the evidence shows that modern organic food production is equivalent in good years and far better in years of drought or other environmental stress.[17] In summary, the problems within the global food production and distribution systems are:

  1. The global waste of 30-50% of all food produced due to issues with distribution and poverty
    1. The perpetration of the lie of GMOs increasing food production when evidence shows not only that they don’t, but also that they are not necessary.
    2. Anti-competitive practices by an increasingly small group of global multinationals leading the actions of neoliberal governments.
      1. Edging out or buying out competitors
      2. Bringing many new laws to protect profits instead of people.
      3. The active prevention of any change in the industry globally by these organizations to maintain their control and profit margins.
      4. Global regulatory capture and government lobbying creates further concentration of control and wealth
      5. The use of GMOs to provide a legal basis in intellectual property law for global control of the entire market – from farm to fork.
        1. Using government influence to establish patent law for GMOs
        2. The rapid spread of GMOs into the natural environment with minimal testing

 



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