Hungry for Profit: The Agribusiness Threat to Farmers, Food, and the Environment

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And they are very much with us—in us, in fact.

John Bellamy Foster

Half of the soybean produced globally and a third of the corn is genetically engineered. High fructose corn syrup, that ubiquitous sweetener that leads off the ingredients list on so many plastic wrappers and aluminum cans, is made by applying a biotech-produced enzyme to corn.

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As several authors point out, biotechnology is not inherently harmful. Ironically enough, the same companies that promoted the virtues of the Green Revolution—industrial agriculture on speed—as the cure to global hunger are now promoting a new Biotech Revolution to alleviate the environmental degradation caused by the Green Revolution.

The logic is by now morbidly familiar.

You just have to work through some gristle to get to it. Constantine Markides is a freelance writer and novelist living in Portland, Maine. In the advertisement, a group of friends or family members sit down at a table to share a home-cooked meal.

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However, the world already produces enough food to feed 10 billion people. The reality is that one billion people still go hungry today because of poverty, inequality, and maldistribution of wealth and resources—not because there is too little food. In our global capitalist food system, agribusiness monopolies exert their will with impunity, while consumers, farmers, women, and people of color rarely have a seat at the table.

An African American woman and man happily serve up a variety of brightly colored cherry tomatoes and salad fixings to three intent, smiling children—two white children and an African American boy. Industrial agriculture is held up by neoliberal policies like free trade agreements and US agricultural policies that have supported 60 years of research for industrial production and subsidies biased towards large corporations. Globally, diversified smallholders must compete against economies of scale and are vulnerable to the whims of financial speculation, land grabbing, and volatile global markets.

Such agreements often outlaw the age-old farmer practice of seed saving and sharing. For example, under the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, Colombia is obligated to protect the interests of agribusiness by giving US corporations legal monopoly rights over seeds. It is illegal for farmers to save or sell any of these varieties or even to sell and use non-registered seeds. Explore Now. Buy As Gift.

John Bellamy Foster — Wikirouge

Overview Millions go hungry every year in both poor and rich nations, yet hundreds of thousands of peasants and farmers continue to be pushed off the land. About the Author Fred Magdoff taught at the University of Vermont in Burlington, is a director of the Monthly Review Foundation, and has written on political economy for many years.

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