This posting may range a bit in the commentary but, as with the web of life, it is all connected!
First, psychopathic (**see sidebar next page) corporations buy up all the water, next the genome, now the arable land. No surprise!? This is perhaps the sickest subversion of food security I’ve heard of to date (e.g., Terminator Technology, et al.). I reference here an article from the UK’s Guardian, re-printed below.
It is so easy, healthful and connective to support LOCAL food security as opposed to this international (though legal) “theft”. How? By celebrating food! Buy Local (it’s not just a slogan, anymore! – unless you’re an Inuit) and check out the slow food movement.
www.slowfood.com (int’l) and www.slowfoodusa.org are two sites of interest, for starters.
This is a place where we can start. Multi-pronged approaches are surely needed, and there is a broad community of activists working on the larger issues of food and agriculture, but we can effect what goes on in our own homes and lives.
“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them.”
Continue on to read the text of the article I’m referencing (and the “psychopathic” sidebar!). At the end I provide the link to the story as posted November 24th (when you go to the site you will find it about 1/2 way down that days breaking news” – just past the story on 10,000 new tasers for “the old Bill” (cops, colloquially) in the UK and renewed attempts to close down the terror training school at Fort Benning, GA).
Rich countries launch great land grab to safeguard food supply
• States and companies target developing nations
• Small farmers at risk from industrial-scale deals
* Julian Borger, diplomatic editor
* guardian.co.uk, Saturday November 22 2008 00.01 GMT
* The Guardian, Saturday November 22 2008
Rich governments and corporations (my emphasis) are triggering alarm
for the poor as they buy up the rights to millions of hectares of
agricultural land in developing countries in an effort to secure their own
long-term food supplies.
Sorry to interrupt here but once again the Corporation raises it’s uglied (new word!) head. We may even be able to tackle government actions but try to tackle a successful (on their terms) corporation. See the film “The Corporation” for background on why I earlier used the term “psychopathic”.
It is a 2003 Canadian documentary film critical of the modern-day corporation, cleverly evaluating its behavior and examining corporate practices. The film charts the development of the corporation as a legal entity from its origins to the rise of the vast modern institutions ENTITLED TO SOME OF THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF A PERSON. It draws startling parallels between examples of corporate malfeasance and officially recognized symptoms of psychopathy; damningly comparing the profile of the modern, profit-driven corporation to that of a clinically-diagnosed psychopath, according to accepted psychiatric standards.
Variety praised the film’s “surprisingly cogent, entertaining, even rabble-rousing indictment of perhaps the most influential institutional model for our era” and its avoidance of “a sense of excessively partisan rhetoric” by deploying a wide range of interviewees and “a bold organizational scheme that lets focus jump around in interconnective, humorous, hit-and-run fashion.”
The documentary is available on DVD. www.thecorporation.com
The film was written by Joel Bakan, and co-directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. Bakan wrote he book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (ISBN 0-74324-744-2), during the filming of the documentary.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Chelle (the above definition “tweaked” from Wikipedia)
The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf, has
warned that the controversial rise in land deals could create a form of
“neo-colonialism”, with poor states producing food for the rich at the expense
of their own hungry people.
Rising food prices have already set off a second “scramble for Africa”. This
week, the South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics announced plans to buy a 99-year
lease on a million hectares in Madagascar. Its aim is to grow 5m tonnes of
corn a year by 2023, and produce palm oil from a further lease of 120,000
hectares (296,000 acres), relying on a largely South African workforce.
Production would be mainly earmarked for South Korea, which wants to lessen
dependence on imports.
“These deals can be purely commercial ventures on one level, but sitting
behind it is often a food security imperative backed by a government,” said
Carl Atkin, a consultant at Bidwells Agribusiness, a Cambridge firm helping to
arrange some of the big international land deals.
Madagascar’s government said that an environmental impact assessment would
have to be carried out before the Daewoo deal could be approved, but it
welcomed the investment. The massive lease is the largest so far in an
accelerating number of land deals that have been arranged since the surge in
food prices late last year.
“In the context of arable land sales, this is unprecedented,” Atkin said.
“We’re used to seeing 100,000-hectare sales. This is more than 10 times as
Another Interesting Resource
“It is one of the larger paradoxes of our time that the very same food policies that have contributed to overnutrition in the first world are now contributing to undernutrition in the third.”
Word has it that Barack Obama has read Michael Pollan’s 2006 book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in which Pollan describes four basic ways in which human societies have obtained food: the current industrial system, the big organic operation, the local self-sufficient farm, and the hunter-gatherer. Pollan follows each of these processes from a group of plants photosynthesizing calories through a series of intermediate stages and ultimately to a meal.
Along the way, he suggests that there is a fundamental tension between the logic of nature and the logic of human industry, that the way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world, and that industrial eating obscures crucially important ecological relationships and connections.
He contends that most of what Americans now buy is not in fact food; one would do well to eat only what his grandmother would have recognized as food. Michael Pollan’s new book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto is not to be missed. Ditto his recent essay, an open letter to our next President, in the New York Times Magazine (as quoted above. See link below).
* Pollan, Michael (2006). The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin Press. ISBN 9781594200823.
* Pollan, Michael (2008). In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. New York: Penguin Press. ISBN 9781594201455.
ESSAY (long but HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
* Pollan, Michael (9 October 2008). “Farmer in Chief”, The New York Times.
Sources: wikipedia, michaelpollan.com, NY Times Magazine
At a food security summit in Rome, in June, there was agreement to channel
more investment and development aid to African farmers to help them respond to
higher prices by producing more. But governments and corporations in some
cash-rich but land-poor states, mostly in the Middle East, have opted not to
wait for world markets to respond and are trying to guarantee their own
long-term access to food by buying up land in poorer countries.
According to diplomats, the Saudi Binladin Group is planning an investment in
Indonesia to grow basmati rice, while tens of thousands of hectares in
Pakistan have been sold to Abu Dhabi investors.
Arab investors, including the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, have also bought
direct stakes in Sudanese agriculture. The president of the UEA, Khalifa bin
Zayed, has said his country was considering large-scale agricultural projects
in Kazakhstan to ensure a stable food supply.
Even China, which has plenty of land but is now getting short of water as it
pursues breakneck industrialisation, has begun to explore land deals in
south-east Asia. Laos, meanwhile, has signed away between 2m-3m hectares, or
15% of its viable farmland. Libya has secured 250,000 hectares of Ukrainian
farmland, and Egypt is believed to want similar access. Kuwait and Qatar have
been chasing deals for prime tracts of Cambodia rice fields.
Eager buyers generally have been welcomed by sellers in developing world
governments desperate for capital in a recession. Madagascar’s land reform
minister said revenue would go to infrastructure and development in
Sudan is trying to attract investors for almost 900,000 hectares of its land,
and the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has been courting would-be
“If this was a negotiation between equals, it could be a good thing. It could
bring investment, stable prices and predictability to the market,” said Duncan
Green, Oxfam’s head of research. “But the problem is, [in] this scramble for
soil I don’t see any place for the small farmers.”
Alex Evans, at the Centre on International Cooperation, at New York
University, said: “The small farmers are losing out already. People without
solid title are likely to be turfed off the land.”
Details of land deals have been kept secret so it is unknown whether they have
built-in safeguards for local populations.
Steve Wiggins, a rural development expert at the Overseas Development
Institute, said: “There are very few economies of scale in most agriculture
above the level of family farm because managing [the] labour is extremely
difficult.” Investors might also have to contend with hostility. “If I was a
political-risk adviser to [investors] I’d say ‘you are taking a very big
risk’. Land is an extremely sensitive thing. This could go horribly wrong if
you don’t learn the lessons of history.”
Breaking News and Commentary from Citizens For Legitimate Government, 24 Nov 2008