SF Gray Panthers Newsletter, November, 2009
The way food is grown, controlled and marketed affects everything from cost to rising numbers of children with diabetes to environmental pollution and the waste of water resources. Lobbyists for agribusiness, an interlocking of chemical companies and a conglomerate of corporations, secure hundreds of billions in government subsidies to control research in universities and insure massive mono crops—chemically dependent farming. Every pound of food grown by agribusiness methods means a loss of six pounds of healthy soil. 500,000 tons of Monsanto and Dow petrochemicals are dumped on our food yearly. World food prices rose 80% last year, largely due to corporate speculation and hedge fund bidding on land leases in Africa, India, and Latin America. Corporate agribusiness farms replace small farms, displacing farmers. In India this has caused 200,000 farmers to commit suicide. One billion people are starving world-wide, not for the lack of food, but because corporate controls and speculation encourage exporting for profit rather than producing for local consumption.
The documentary, “Food, Inc,” exposes the tragedy of this corporate controlled food system through the story of a Mexican-American family, agonizing in a supermarket, not having money to buy fresh organic fruits and vegetables for the family. They resort to buying drive-in fast foods, trapped in the cycle of eating these so-called cheap foods as they must spend most of their income for the father’s diabetes medications. But a higher price is ultimately paid with the myriad of problems caused by chemically grown, GMO, toxic foods. Foods are artificially cheap only because of government subsidies supporting agribusiness. From 1995 to 2005, $164.7 billion in subsidies went to unhealthy, unsustainable farming.
Solutions must go beyond local involvement toward supporting sustainable farms and raising living standards for farm workers worldwide. The entire food system would transform globally by ending dependency on oil: no petrochemical fertilizers, no diesel farming equipment, drastically reduced carbon footprint, and an end to stock market speculation on oil pricing. We need food grown to feed people, not for the benefit of corporate food profiteers.