GMO, Profit, Power and Geopolitics

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A number of official reports indicates that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are not essential for feeding the world, but if they were to lead to increased productivity, did not harm the environment and did not negatively impact biodiversity and human health. The fact is that GMO technology would still be owned and controlled by certain very powerful interests. Several scholars strongly argued that, in their hands, this technology is first and foremost an instrument of corporate power, a tool to ensure profit.
Professor Michael Hudson, a well known American Professor in International Economic Relations argued that, American foreign policy has almost always been based on agricultural exports, not on industrial exports as people might think. It’s by agriculture and control of the food supply that American diplomacy has been able to control most of the Third World. Professor Michael Hudson further noted that the Project for a New American Century and the Wolfowitz Doctrine show that United States foreign policy is about power, control and ensuring global supremacy at any cost, and part of the plan for attaining world domination rests on the United States controlling agriculture and hijacking food sovereignty and nations’ food security.
In his book ‘Seeds of Destruction’, William Engdahl traces how the oil-rich Rockefeller family translated its massive wealth into political clout and set out to capture agriculture in the United States and then globally via the ‘green revolution’. GMOs represent more of the same due to the patenting and the increasing monopolisation of seeds by a handful of mainly United States companies, such as Monsanto, DuPont and Bayer.
Findings of a report by researchers at Cambridge University in the UK indicated that in India, Monsanto has sucked millions from agriculture in recent years via royalties, and farmers have been compelled to spend beyond their means to purchase seeds and chemical inputs. The report also indicated that a combination of debt, economic liberalization and a shift to GMO cash crops such as cotton, has caused hundreds of thousands of farmers to experience economic distress, while corporations have extracted huge profits. BBC reported by quoting an official figures as of 2017 that over 270,000 farmers in India have committed suicide since the mid to late nineties.
Agriculture is the bedrock of many societies, yet it is being recast for the benefit of rich agritech, retail and food processing concerns. Official report released by GRAIN recently stated that small farms are under immense pressure and food security is being undermined, not least because the small farm produces most of the world’s food. Whether through land grabs and takeovers, the production of non-food cash crops for export, greater chemical inputs or seed patenting and the eradication of seed sharing among farmers, profits are guaranteed for agritech corporations and institutional land investors.
Vandana Shiva, a noted Indian social activist argued that the dominant notions that underpin economic ‘growth’, modern agriculture and ‘development’ are based on a series of assumption that betray a mindset steeped in arrogance and contempt: the planet should be cast in an urban-centic, ethnocentric model whereby the rural is to be looked down on, nature must be dominated, farmers are a problem to be removed from the land and traditional ways are backward and in need of remedy.
She stated that Western corporations are to implement the remedy by determining policies at the World Trade Organization, IMF and World Bank with help from compliant politicians and officials, in order to depopulate rural areas and drive folk to live in cities to then strive for a totally unsustainable, undeliverable, environment-destroying, conflict-driving, consumerist version of the American Dream.
According to Vandana Shiva, it is interesting and disturbing to note that ‘developing’ nations account for more than 80% of world population, but consume only about a third of the world’s energy. United States citizens constitute 5% of the world’s population, but consume 24% of the world’s energy. On average, one American consumes as much energy as two Japanese, six Mexicans, 13 Chinese, 31 Indians, 128 Bangladeshis, 307 Tanzanians and 370 Ethiopians.
Professor Arundhati Roy of Indonesia stated that despite the environmental and social devastation caused, the outcome is regarded as successful just because business interests that benefit from this point to a growth in GDP. Chopping down an entire forest that people had made a living sustainably from for centuries and selling the timber, selling more poisons to spray on soil or selling pharmaceuticals to address the health impacts of the petrochemical food production model would indeed increase GDP. It’s all good for business. And what is good for business is good for everyone else, or so the lie goes.
Food policy analyst Devinder Sharma adamantly argued that the ‘green revolution’ and now GMOs are ultimately not concerned with feeding the world, securing well-rounded nutritious diets or ensuring health and environmental safety. Biotechnological innovations have always had a role to play in improving agriculture, but the post-1945 model of agriculture has been driven by powerful corporations like Monsanto, which are firmly linked to Pentagon and Wall Street interests. Motivated by self-interest but wrapped up in trendy PR about ‘feeding the world’ or imposing austerity to ensure prosperity, the publicly stated intentions of the United States state-corporate cabal should never be taken at face value.
Devinder Sharma further noted that, in India, Monsanto and Walmart had a major role in drawing up the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture. Monsanto now funds research in public institutions and its presence and influence compromises what should in fact be independent decision and policy making bodies. According to Devinder Sharma, Monsanto is a driving force behind what could eventually lead to the restructuring and subjugation of India by the United States. The IMF and Monsanto are also working to ensure Ukraine’s subservience to United States geopolitical aims via the capture of land and agriculture.
William Engdahl in the above mentioned book stated that only the completely naive would believe that rich institutional investors in land and big agribusiness and its backers in the United States State Department have humanity’s interests at heart. At the very least, their collective aim is profit. Beyond that and to facilitate it, the need to secure United States global hegemony is paramount.
According to William Engdahl, the science surrounding GMOs is becoming increasingly politicized and bogged down in detailed arguments about whose methodologies, results, conclusions and science show what and why. The bigger picture however is often in danger of being overlooked. GMO is not just about ‘science’. As an issue, GMO and the chemical-industrial model it is linked to is ultimately a geopolitical one driven by power and profit.