4 February 2010

Eurasian Food Security in 2020: Two Scenarios

Eurasian populations face an unprecedented challenge over the coming decade to secure adequate nutrition and healthy food for their populations, and at the same time an extraordinary opportunity. The main problem we face is not a problem of an exploding population. Rather it is a problem of the nutritional quality of the food we produce and consume across Eurasia from Turkey to China to Russia and Central Asia.

Why do I state the problem thus? First, to dismiss the false “over-population” argument, it should be noted that the net reproduction rate across the world over the past four decades of aggressive birth control programs sponsored by the US Government and by private interests, above all the Rockefeller Population Council, is intended to drastically reduce population growth among developing country peoples. It has succeeded to the point the greatest potential problem the world will face in the next several decades will be like that Japan, Germany, Italy and other industrialized nations already face: lack of young growing populations, a demographic “population death.” The present birth rates across the EU are below net replacement levels meaning slow demographic death. The same is the case across much of Eurasia especially the former Soviet Union countries. Population growth will not be our problem.

The greatest danger to Eurasia’s food security over the next decade will come from the threat of agribusiness, the industrial production of food purely for profit. Some historical background is helpful.

The beginnings of Industrialized Food

One of the most prevalent myths about modern agribusiness industrial methods of food production is that through introduction of modern technology—mechanization of harvesting and plowing, introduction of modern chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides as well as methods of mass production of animal products via so-called factory farming techniques—that we have made significant advances to ending world hunger via modern agriculture and agribusiness.

The truth is just the opposite. Since mass production and industrialized agriculture has been introduced, beginning in the United States already in the 1950’s and spreading to the developing world first via the much-touted Green Revolution of the Rockefeller Foundation in Mexico and India, world hunger and malnutrition has dramatically increased.
The latest estimate from the World Bank is that some 1.02 billion people in the world go hungry and that each year, 3 million under-five children die because they are undernourished. Yet recent studies by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization confirm that every year the world agriculture produces enough wheat rice and other grains to give every human being on earth a daily diet of 3500 calories and that enough meat milk and eggs are produced to give every person one pound per day of those protein foods. In fact today we produce an excess of food per capita larger than ever in human history. Yet more than 1 billion people go hungry each day.
The answer to the riddle is that industrialization of agriculture and its creation of a global mass market has in turn driven hundreds of millions of farmers and peasants off their land and destroyed food independence for the first time to such an extent in mankind’s history. As millions have been driven off their land by “free trade” rules such as in the World Trade Organization, they have been driven into the cities creating the modern phenomenon of sprawling slums where millions go hungry for lack of work or adequate housing. This is a phenomenon, tragically, across Eurasia today especially in Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union in Central Asia.
Added to the equation of agribusiness since 1994 has been the mass-scale introduction of patented genetically engineered seeds, GMO, by a handful of Western agrichemical giant corporations, led by Monsanto of St. Louis and DuPont’s Pioneer Seeds, Dow Chemical and the Swiss Syngenta. These companies, backed by the US Government are imposing enormous pressure on developing countries to not only industrialize their agriculture, but also to open their land to free planting of GMO patented seeds---a new form of Serfdom. They spread their unnatural seeds by bribery, deception and above all by a well-financed media campaign that wrongly states GMO plants raise the per hectare harvest and require significantly less chemicals. Both have been proven to be false claims yet the myth goes on.
The origins of agribusiness
When attacking a myth as pervasive as that which claims industrial agriculture since the Second World War has ended mass starvation and improved the quality of life, we must be clear what we are talking about. Here a short history of agribusiness origins is instructive.
In 1941, before Pearl Harbor had brought the United States into the war, Nelson Rockefeller of the Standard Oil fortune, and US Vice President Henry A. Wallace, the former Agriculture Secretary, went to Mexico to discuss how to increase food production with the Mexican government. Wallace had founded the seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred International, later a DuPont company and one of the Big Four GMO seed giants.
The Wallace-Rockefeller Mexico report emphasized the need to breed crops that had higher yields. At the time, corn was the major crop of Mexico, along with wheat and beans. In 1943, as a result of the project, the Rockefeller Foundation started the Mexican Agricultural Program (MAC), headed by the Rockefeller Foundation. The program included a young plant pathologist from the Rockefeller Foundation named Norman Borlaug. The Rockefeller family was preparing the first steps of what was to become a major transformation of world agriculture markets after the war.
That same year, as Nelson Rockefeller and Wallace were surveying Latin America for agricultural opportunities for the United States, Laurance and Nelson Rockefeller both began buying up, on the cheap, vast holdings of high-quality Latin American farmland. The family was diversifying their fortune from oil into agriculture.
This was not simple family farming, however, but global ‘agribusiness’, as it began to be called in the 1950’s. Oil was the core of the new agribusiness economics. And oil was something the Rockefellers knew cold. The economic model of global monopoly concentration they had built up in oil over decades would be the model for transforming the nature of world agriculture into a global ‘agribusiness.’
By the time Roosevelt named Nelson Rockefeller to be Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, Rockefeller was fully involved with food and agribusiness. In 1943, Edward O’Neal, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, joined Nelson and other top US businessmen at Chapultepec, Mexico, for a conference on Inter-American cooperation organized by the US State Department.
At Chapultepec, Rockefeller agreed that US agriculture needed new export markets. The markets of Latin America were coming into their view. Nelson said he was looking for new ‘frontiers.’ Rockefeller, in a true spirit of ‘free market,’ demanded that the Americas be closed to all but US business interests, while demanding that the world, including governments of Latin America, open their doors to US products, including agriculture. Free trade was a slogan that was to be applied only selectively; others would be required to free their trade for US companies to enter and dominate.
Back in the USA, the Rockefellers transformed traditional American family farming into a giant pool of monopoly companies able to crush any rivals by the 1990’s. Government regulations, food safety standards and monopoly laws were systematically dissolved, especially during the 1980’s Reagan-Bush era. Agribusiness began to transform the face of traditional American farming in ways so drastic as to be incomprehensible.
What began was the merger and consolidation of American food production, out of the hands of family farmers and into giant corporate global concentrations. The farmer became a contract employee responsible only for feeding and maintaining concentrations of thousands of animals in giant pens. He no longer owned the animals or even the farm. He effectively became like a feudal serf, indentured through huge debts, not to a Lord of the manor, but to a global multinational corporation such as Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, Smithfield Foods or ConAgra.
For the new corporate agribusiness giants, the transformation was quite profitable. Family farmers’ income plunged as they lost control of their market to the agribusiness giants by the end of the 1990’s. At the same time, the average annual return for the industrialized US food processing sector rose to 23% by 1999.
Hundreds of thousands of independent family farmers were forced out of business with the spread of agribusiness and its large operations. They couldn’t compete. Traditional farming is by its nature labor intensive, while industrial factory farming is capital intensive. Farmers who did manage to raise the money for animal confinement systems quickly discovered that the small savings in labor costs were not enough to cover the increasing costs of facilities, energy, caging, and drugs. They were caught in the trap of debt.
The number of hog farms in the US decreased, while the number of hogs sold increased. Consolidation resulted in just 3 percent of US hog farms producing more than 50 percent of the hogs. A report to the US Secretary of Agriculture in the late 1990’s described the enormous social costs of the destruction of the American family farm by agribusiness, as the economic basis of entire rural communities collapsed and rural towns became ghost towns.
A Green Revolution
The Rockefellers’ Green Revolution began in Mexico and was spread across Latin America during the 1960’s. Soon it was introduced in India and elsewhere in Asia. The ‘revolution’ was a veiled effort to gain control over food production in key target countries of the developing world, promoted in the name of free enterprise market efficiency against alleged ‘communist inefficiency.’
In the aftermath of World War II, American chemical companies emerged as the world’s largest. The most prominent companies—DuPont, Dow Chemical, Monsanto, Hercules Powder and others—had a glut of nitrogen production capacity which they had built up, at US taxpayer expense, to produce bombs and shells for the war effort.
An essential chemical for making bombs and explosives, nitrogen could also form the basis for nitrate fertilizers. The chemical industry developed the idea of creating large new markets for their nitrogen in the form of fertilizers, ammonia nitrate, anhydrous ammonia, for both domestic US agriculture and for export. The nitrogen fertilizer industry was part of the powerful lobby of the Rockefeller Standard Oil circles which, by the end of the War, included DuPont, Dow Chemicals and Hercules Powder among others.
The global marketing of the new agri-chemicals after the war also solved the problem of finding significant new markets for the American petroleum and petrochemical industry as well as the grain cartel, a group of four to five companies then including Cargill, Continental Grain, Bunge and ADM. The largest grain traders were American. Agribusiness was going global and the Rockefeller Foundation shaped that agribusiness globalization.
With a monopoly on the agricultural chemicals and on the hybrid seeds, American agribusiness giants were intent on dominating the global market in agriculture trade. As Kissinger noted in the 1970’s, ‘If you control the food you control the people.’
The agribusiness project of US big corporations and banks expanded to engulf the global markets since then. In conjunction with debt crises in developing countries and across the countries of Eurasia, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) invariably ordered countries to slash domestic food subsidies, to devalue their currency and to cut government regulation. The door is open to giant agribusiness to move in. In country after country today food that was once locally produced at affordable prices by domestic farmers has given was to mass produced food imports. The products are subsidized by the US Government and as well the EU and in effect are “dumped” on developing markets under WTO rules on free agriculture trade.
The effect of this agribusiness model is destroying food self sufficiency across Eurasia today.
Since Henry Kissinger drafted a top secret policy paper for Presidents Nixon and Ford in the mid-1970s, NSSM-200 official US foreign policy, as I describe in my book Ölüm Tohumlari, has been to promote population reduction in developing countries with large raw materials resources. Kissinger made a “priority list” of 13 developing countries to be targeted by US population reduction policies. The list included Turkey, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Indonesia and several African countries. China and the Soviet Union were left out due to the Cold War.
The Eurasian Food Prospects for 2020
We might ask what all this has to do with the perspective for Eurasia in ten years? The answer is everything. If the nations of Eurasia continue to remain satellite economies of the dollar world and of US finance and political control, we can be certain that the trends of the past twenty or so years to destroy domestic farming and replace it with industrial food products, especially GMO products of proven health dangers, that the degree of hunger and malnutrition will increase from China to Russia, from Turkey to Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan and across the Middle East region. The destruction of domestic agriculture and farmers is an essential part of a geopolitical strategy of using “food as a weapon” as Kissinger again called it during the 1970’s. The Pentagon calls this part of their Full Spectrum Dominance—control of everything everywhere.
Powerful financial elites based in New York and London stand behind US agribusiness. Names like David Rockefeller, George Soros, Bill Gates with his Green Revolution for Africa, are all involved in programs as well to reduce population growth in the world. Before World War Two the world understood correctly that a growing, young and dynamic population growth was essential to economic prosperity. Now we are supposed to believe the opposite is true. It isn’t.
If the countries of Eurasia continue to adopt the WTO rules of the “Rich Mens’ Club” and destroy their domestic food production for the sake of cheap industrial imports whether mass produced chickens or GMO corn or wheat, the outlook in 2020 is indeed grim. There will be mass starvation and ecological catastrophe as today in certain extremely poor African states.
There is as well a second scenario, one we might call “national food security” scenario. Here the nations of Eurasia come closer to one another in economic cooperation, increasingly on a bilateral basis not on the basis of WTO rules set in Washington or by IMF rules meant to aid Western giant corporations at expense of developing nations.
A possible scenario would be that the present Eurasian nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)—China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan—develop close economic ties not unlike the early European Economic Community during the 1960’s. They respect each other’s national sovereignty and especially food sovereignty. Farmer prices are high enough to encourage farmers to stay on the land.
Cheap Western industrial agribusiness imports are highly taxed to make them unattractive. GMO crops and products are absolutely forbidden by laws on the health and food safety. Natural food production is encouraged by respective governments across Eurasia and harvest yields expand dramatically as a result of education of local farmers. The improvement in food quality results in longer life spans and healthier populations. The SCO agrees to enlarge its membership to include Turkey and several Middle East countries. On that basis Eurasia becomes the cradle of food security and of economic prosperity for the entire planet while the United States and the countries that most adopted the free market US economic model—UK, New Zealand, Australia—struggle with declining populations, lower living standards and depression.

F. William Engdahl, author, Ölüm Tohumlari

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