Famine, Global Poverty and The Destruction of the Family Farm
by Julie Levesque
August 30, 2012
The fundamental causes of famine and poverty are rarely exposed in the mainstream media and too often obfuscated by an unconsciously racist worldview in which people in underdeveloped countries are the authors of their own misfortunes. The underlying economic and social roots of poverty are actually the expression of centuries of domination of the North over the South.
To honestly address poverty issues would require a fundamental reform in an unfair global economic system based, among other things, on the outright takeover of farming by corporate agribusiness, leading to the social demise of large sectors of the rural population.
Instead, dominant economic forces push for more destructive policies, feign compassion and generosity with empty promises like “Millennium Development Goals” and subsidies to international NGOs which are used to hide the devastation.
“Hunger and malnutrition are man-made,” Dr. Vandana Shiva explains:
They are hardwired in the design of the industrial, chemical model of agriculture. But just as hunger is created by design, healthy and nutritious food for all can also be designed, through food democracy [...]
We are repeatedly told that we will starve without chemical fertilisers. However, chemical fertilisers, which are essentially poison, undermine food security by destroying the fertility of soil by killing the biodiversity of soil organisms, friendly insects that control pests and pollinators like bees and butterflies necessary for plant reproduction and food production [...]
Industrialisation of agriculture creates hunger and malnutrition, and yet further industrialisation of food systems are offered as solution to the crisis. (Dr. Vandana Shiva, Our Hunger Games )
In this for profit economy, pesticides are good for businesses. That they are harmful to living species, including humans, is the last thing on the corporate money-maker’s mind:
The next time anyone in India serves up a good old ‘wholesome’ meal of rice and various vegetables, they will probably take in half a milligram of pesticide also, around a pin prick. That would be more than 40 times what an average North American person would consume.
India is one of the world’s largest users of pesticides and a highly profitable market for the corporations that manufacture them. Ladyfinger, cabbage, tomato and cauliflower in particular may contain dangerously high levels because farmers tend to harvest them almost immediately after spraying. Fruit and vegetables are sprayed and tampered with to make them more colourful, and harmful fungicides are sprayed on fruit to ripen them in order to rush them off to market. (Colin Todhunter, Slow Death and Fast Profits: The Globalisation of Pesticides and Poison).