Sep 20, 2010

Absolute power comes from absolute control over food

Ever since I was a child I have been drinking milk bought directly from a small dairy in my neighbourhood. When I moved to New Delhi, for some months I managed to get my direct supply of milk from a neighbourhood supplier. But soon, the buffalo-keeper moved out his animals under pressure from builders. This was almost two decades back, and since then I am left with little option but to buy processed milk.

However, there are millions in India who can afford to avoid intake of processed milk and I think they are the lucky ones. I wish I could still buy my daily requirement of milk from the small neighbourhood dairies that dot the outskirts of New Delhi, and elsewhere.

I was therefore shocked when I viewed the accompanying video on YouTube.

Police raiding an organic grocery shop in California.

This is certainly outrageous. But this is a grim pointer to where the next battles would be fought. It is not water, as many people believe, but food that will be putting nations at war. You can clearly see, if you want to, where it is coming from. Multinational food giants have been slowly but steadily gaining control over food. They know that absolute control over food is the road to absolute power.

The process of takeover of food simultaneously began on several fronts. It began with Green Revolution in the late 1960s, which was essentially to provide controlled technology to increase farm production in developing countries. This was followed with Structural Adjustment Programme that the World Bank/IMF pushed seeking policy changes through the 150-odd conditionality's that came with every loan. To provide more teeth to the process, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) have been brought in.

Technology is now controlled through the instruments of Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), and unhindered grain trade is made possible by the unjust obligations that developing countries have been made to accept under the so-called free trade paradigm. To complete the control over the entire food chain, the third actor in the game -- food retail -- is now being moved across the national borders. G-20 is pushing for compliance, asking member countries to streamline the norms that facilitate the entry of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Multi-Brand Retail.

Internationally, the food trio -- Monsanto/Syngenta as symbol of the technology providers; Cargill/ADM among the major food trading companies; and Wal-Mart and Tesco representing food retail -- have formed an unholy alliance They operate in unison, making the governments fall in line. Food laws are being changed everywhere across the globe to make it easy for the trio to operate. WTO is helping to push farmers out of agriculture thereby making it easier for these multinationals to march on. IPR laws are bringing the necessary changes in national laws in conformity with internationally designed parameters bringing private control over technology.

The process of takeover of food is now complete.

But there are still irritating impediment on the way to absolute control over food. Alert and conscious consumers are not giving up so easily, and they are gaining in strength. Even in the United States and Europe, more and more people are realising the dangers of processed foods, and silently moving away to organic foods. The annual market for organic foods is growing at a phenomenal 20 per cent. This has to be stopped. So the regulators are now working overtime to outlaw organic foods. The underlying objective is to limit your food choice. You will be left with no option but to buy what the food giants want you to buy. Hobson's choice, isn't it?

In the name of food safety, which is a misnomer, food laws are being changed. S 510 is one such law that the US is considering to bring in. One of the world's most corrupt body -- US FDA -- is at work. It is working overtime to outlaw organic food. The prescription is simple: GM food is what you should be eating, organic food is bad for your health. That's the best it can do. The police raid in an organic store in California therefore is just the beginning. You wait and watch. The day is not far when the police will enter your kitchen. In the name of Mendel in the Kitchen, Nina Fedoroff, presently science advisor to the Secretary of State, is working hard to police your kitchen.

There are some who realise the threat ahead. This is what someone wrote in the comments section of the YouTube: I go to my apt garbage bin and search out empty general mills cereal boxes and various gmo containers, wash them out and sterilize them and place my organic foodstuff inside because I don't want to be dragged down to jail. I can't afford a criminal record, to maintain my job.

I don't know what is happening to the United States. Whenever I see the Statue of Liberty I can't miss the tears in her eyes. Only the Americans refuse to see it. As my film-maker friend Ajay Kanchan often says: America is the country where civil liberties have been mortgaged to the multinationals. People live in virtual tyranny. I am in complete agreement. I can only feel sorry for fellow Americans. But I can assure you the world outside is waiting to help you, to pull you out of the police rule. Come, let us join hands. Let us try to regain our control over what we eat.

And if you still believe, the police is acting right. Read this letter (from someone with the user name 12dogpal): 'They did not ban the H1N1 virus infection at the factory pig farm in Mexico where the virus was released. The pork was still sold in the USA. They didn't close the Wright County Egg farm for poisoning the food supply, they didn't close Wal-Mart for passing out e.coli beef. They didn't stop the drug co's from putting out dangerous drugs, lets face it folks, your government is your worst enemy.'

How true?

As Jawaharlal Nehru had said during the days of the British Raj: Freedom is in peril, defend it with all your might. Start by saying no to S 510. Remember, regaining control over our food is the ultimate freedom.


M.Bulger said...

S. 510 protects organics by saying that no standard set forth by the FDA shall come in conflict with organic standards.

You've misread the bill.

Here is a link to a simple summary:

Ramesh Dubey said...

आदरणीय देवेंद्र जी आपने कृषि तकनीक, खाद्य व्‍यापार और फुटकर कंपनियों के नापाक गठजोड़ का पर्दाफाश किया इसके लिए धन्‍यवाद । ये भीमकाय कंपनियां दुनिया भर की सरकारों, वैश्‍विक संस्‍थाओं (विश्‍व बैंक, आईएमएफ आदि) के निर्णयों को प्रभावित करने की क्षमता रखती हैं । सबसे दुर्भाग्‍यपूर्ण स्‍थिति यह है कि ये कंपनियों धीरे-धीरे आम आदमी की रोजी-रोटी छीनती जा रही हैं । इसे प्‍लास्‍टिक के दोना-पत्‍तल और कुल्‍हड़ के उदाहरण से समझा जा सकता है । पहले पत्‍तों के दोना-पत्‍तल और मिट्टी के कुल्‍हड़ होने से लाखों लोगों को रोजगार मिलता था और प्रकृति का संरक्षण होता था । लेकिन अब शहरों को तो छोड़िए गांव-गिरांव में भी प्‍लास्‍टिक के दोना-पत्‍तल और कुल्‍हड़ आधिपत्‍य जमा चुके हैं । रोजी-रोटी से आगे बढ़कर प्‍लास्‍टिक क्रांति बाढ़ व सूखा को रास्‍ता दे रही है । आज किसी सूखे या दलदली तालाब में फावड़ा चलाया जाय तो वह मिट्टी में नहीं अपितु प्‍लास्‍टिक की पन्‍नी में फंसता है । इससे वर्षा जल के भूजल बनने के रास्‍ते बंद होते जा रहे हैं । थोड़ी सी वर्षा से देशभर में आज जो बाढ़ आई है उसका एक बड़ा कारण देशी खान-पान व रहन-सहन की आदतों की जगह बहुराष्‍ट्रीय कंपनियों द्वारा प्रवर्तित रीतियों को अपनाना भी है । अपर्याप्‍त मानकों का बहाना बनाकर जैविक खेती और उत्‍पादों का विरोध भी इन्‍हीं कंपनियों की कुटिल चाल का परिणाम है ।

रमेश दुबे, दिल्‍ली

Anonymous said...

Like all corporate bills, that surface language provides the means of falsely marketing the bill.

Organic standards are already being eroded nationally and at the Codex level. The bill would remove all access to organic seed which gives some idea how serious the biotech companies behind the bill are about control over food and how disinterested in "organic." And the removal of those seeds means small farmers who can not afford to be "certified" organic would be left with only genetically engineered seeds, making most food GMO.

Only a very small sector of food would be labeled "organic" and not only is the reality of that already being eroded by the very corporations behind the bill but the US and FDA are pushing at the international level to ban all labeling of GMOs, including organic. Since S 510 would put the US under the WTO and international agreements, there would be no distinguishing organic from GMO. So, saying "S. 510 protects organics" is a terrible deception. The bill is not to be judged by its surface language but by what it would do and by what agreements and statutes it triggers outside of the bill itself.

The comment is a corporate response. People, however, are concerned about the same thing Mr. Sharma wrote about - corporate control over the food supply. So, people are disturbed by what this bill would do to farming and gardening and their right to choose food or to grow it, already seeing how "food safety" is being used by the FDA to attack food buying clubs across the country and farmers (CA, WI, OH, MA, GA, SD, PA, etc.)and how a man in Georgia was fined $5000 for growing too many vegetables.

The government talks out of one side of its mouth about food shortages while the FDA is in court saying people have no right to choose their own food, and the FDA's S 510 threatens those growing or producing it (even gardeners). Skip the empty words about "organic standards." Shouldn't we be noticing that those who are behind this bill and the same ones who stole the economy and are now heavily invested in starvation? Or that the bill includes harmonization with Codex Alimentarius which was designed by the pharmaceutical industry and that they are heavily invested in severe malnutrition and disease?

O. Thompson

Madhusudan said...

These blood sucking bastards(multinationals and governments alike) are robbing the people of their lives. This is demoniac economics.

srinivasarao said...

I recently read an article in Deccan Chronicle which talks about the food that we are having today. Each and every food that we take is toxic. Following is the link to that article