This article appears in the April 25, 2008 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
To Defeat Famine: Kill the WTO
by Marcia Merry Baker
The World Trade Organization—the agency and the thinking behind it—must be killed. We are at the point of famine today, because only 13 years ago, in January 1995, the WTO was allowed to come into existence, resulting from ten years of UN GATT talks (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), 1984-94, on “reforming” world agriculture for free trade. This culminated a process of drastic takedown of world food production potential, from its prior build-up during the FDR period and after World War II. The inevitable result was today’s worldwide food crisis. The WTO was evil from the start. Nations were bullied and threatened into going along with it. Tolerating it today is committing evil.
The following is an accounting of the crimes of the WTO-era, and of actions by agencies and figures leading up to it. What is evident, is that the conditions for the vulnerability of millions of people to hunger and now famine, were masterminded by networks with the intent to subvert nations and cause depopulation. The capstone of the whole downgrading process was the biofuels craze, with Al Gore as the top biofool, campaigning to “save the planet.” Not his own man, Gore is just the pathetic puppet of the neo-British Empire crowd, intent on subverting the system of nation-states itself, now that the financial system is crumbling.
The WTO crime record can be best understood by looking back to the decades and locations where policies to promote agro-industrial production once were in effect—from the 1930s anti-Depression farm programs in the United States, to the food self-sufficiency programs of India, undertaken after its independence from the British Empire in 1947. But then, over the decades, a series of policy downshifts undercut the goal and the gains made, and decreased the volume of available food. Former high-productivity farm regions were depopulated, from the High Plains of North America, to Europe, Australia, and South America. Now one-seventh of the world’s population lacks enough to eat. Against this backdrop, the story of the WTO is one of crimes against humanity, and not an academic “economics” debate.
How to stop the WTO? Nullify it. Withdraw membership. Suspend its codicils, and also those of its multilateral clones, such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and all the rest. There is no way to make any of this so-called “free” (rigged) trade fair or useful. In the face of today’s food emergency, recall what the core WTO liturgy is: Nations must not keep food reserves, because this would be trade-distorting. Nations must not attempt to be food self-sufficient, because this would deny their citizens the “right to access the world market.” Nations must not support their own farmers, because this harms farmers elsewhere. Nations must not use tariffs, because this denies right-of-access to your citizens by foreign producers. And so on and on. The consequences of this are genocidal, so don’t debate it. Cancel it.
We first look at the scope and recent history of today’s food crisis, and then at the criminal nature of the WTO.
The Food Isn’t There!
Figure 1 shows that world per-capita output of grains of all kinds (rice, wheat, corn, and others) has been falling for 20 years. Whereas in 1986 it was 338 kilograms per person, it went down to 303 by 2006. This decline in no way has been made up for by increasing amounts of other staple foodstuffs—tubers, legumes, or oilcrops, which likewise are in insufficient supply.
Figure 2 shows that in 12 of the last 20 years, less grain has been produced than utilized that year (for all purposes—direct human consumption, livestock feed, industrial and energy uses, and reserves). Accordingly, the amount of carryover stocks of grain from year to year has been declining to extreme danger levels. The diversion of food crops into biofuels is the nail in the coffin.
The latest estimate is that worldwide stockpiles of cereal crops of all kinds are expected to fall to a 25-year low of 405 million tons in 2008. That is down 21 million tons, or 5%, from their already reduced level in 2007.
Translated into how many “days of consumption” the diminishing grain supplies represent, the drop is down to less than two months as of 2007, as shown in Figure 3. Since this is a generalization, it signifies that in many locations, millions have barely anything or nothing at all to eat.
Thus, behind the hyper-speculation of recent weeks on the agro-commodity exchanges, there is no product now to meet the needs of real users—nations, bakers, brewers, consumers. The markets are non-functional.
Another way to put it, is that prices of grains have gone vertical. Prices for “paper bushels” have no relation to real bushels, and you may not find supplies at any price.
For example, the Philippines on April 17 held a rice tender to secure contracts for 500,000 metric tons of rice from international bidders, but only 325,750 mt was offered. The prices ranged from $872.50 to $1,220 per mt, and the Philippines National Food Authority had budgetted a maximum of $900 a metric ton. But they are now short.
As of April, many of the top grain-exporting nations have restricted their product from the world markets in order to protect domestic consumption. Bans on rice exports are in place in Vietnam, China, and India. Wheat exports have been limited from Russia and Kazakstan.
Governments are seeking nation-to-nation deals to secure food flows just for the near future. The Philippines has pledges from Vietnam and the U.S.A. But many more of the poorest nations are simply left without. Food riots are sweeping the globe, from Haiti and Central America, to Africa and Bangladesh.
Those in London who have acted to enforce the “world markets” system in recent years, are now screaming the loudest to denounce governments for trying to withhold grain from trade, and for making government-to-government deals “outside” the markets. Typical is an April 15 report by the British bank HSBC, “The Food Price Scare,” which in 45 pages fulminates against government price, export, and shipment controls. Singling out rice pledges between Vietnam and the Philippines, the HSBC said such measures have “perverse impacts” and will merely prolong the “adjustment process” required to bring inflation down. The Economist of London derides government-to-government grain deals as “Cereal Offenders.”
But in contrast to these jackals, the scientific and moral reaction to the fact that world food markets have crashed, and nations are reverting to national-interest impulses, is to shut down the WTO. Especially since the 1999 “Seattle Round,” which was peremptorily shut down amidst tear-gas, rioting, and a lock-down of the city, the WTO has rightly been viewed as a zombie agency—the walking dead. But no one has had the guts to counter the Brutish Empire powers behind it, and bury it.
Commitment to Food for All, 1940-60s
Over the first post-World War II decades, a commitment prevailed to build up the economic activity worldwide to end hunger. This is reflected in even the crudest data measuring the annual production of grains per capita, as shown in Figure 1. From 250 kilograms per person in 1950, it rose to the range of 337 by 1978. In some parts of the world, this effort was built on the productive foundations laid many decades previously, such as in the United States and Canada, Argentina, and elsewhere. European agriculture was rebuilt.
In the United States over the 1800s, especially after the Lincoln Presidency, the farmbelt was extended over larger and larger land areas, with higher organization and productivity per unit area, because of the newly built networks of railroads, mechanized farming, water management, and putting scientific advances into practice—from animal husbandry to chemicals. Over the 1950s and ’60s, U.S. yields per acre continued to increase.
For other parts of the world, particularly India, and throughout Africa, the effort to increase food production had to be made over this same period, to make up for the colonial legacy of the lack of infrastructure and farm inputs. It was President Roosevelt’s explicit mission to commit the United States to collaborate with this international post-war drive to see newly freed nations prosper.
There were institutional initiatives to further the mobilization for ending world hunger. In 1945 in Quebec City, Canada, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was founded, later moved to Rome. Its defined mission: to end hunger.
In December 1953, the Atoms for Peace program was announced by President Dwight Eisenhower in a speech to the UN General Assembly. The program had specific technological proposals for advancing agriculture, including nuclear-powered desalination to supply irrigation, and nuclear-powered canal blasting. The guiding concept was that plentiful nuclear power could transform the landscape and create a new “man-made” natural resource base, especially water, for infrastructure and agro-industrial advance.
There were new centers for crop R&D established to breed high-yield seed varieties on a crash basis. Fabulous gains—called the Green Revolution—were made for wheat and corn by the Mexico City-based CIMMYT (International Center for Wheat and Corn Research). Although officially dedicated in 1966, its work started during wartime in 1942, at the instigation of FDR’s Vice President, Henry Wallace, a crop geneticist from Iowa. In Fall 1941, he drove through the countryside of Mexico, the homeland of corn, finding extemely low plant yields. Knowing there would be no wartime funding, Wallace enlisted Rockefeller financing, and corn and wheat research began right away.
In 1960, the International Rice Research Institute was established in the Philippines, and similar public-good R&D centers were set up in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, with specialties including potatoes, beans, and wheat.
There were visions and hopes for the entire globe, even the most extreme climates. FDR himself spoke of making the Sahara Desert bloom. There were plans for even the circumpolar region. In 1944, after a trip across the Bering Strait at the behest of President Franklin Roosevelt, Vice President Wallace called for an “Agricultural Council of the Far North,” to bring together leaders from Scandinavia, the Soviet Union, Canada, and Alaska, to work on expanding farm output in the subpolar regions after the war, to make way for vast new settlements and population.
Despite entrenched networks opposing such a positive worldview—centered in the Anglo-Dutch crowd that had covertly backed European fascism to begin with—there were significant successes and agricultural “firsts” over the post-war decades. One way to appreciate this, is to consider the many national achievements in food self-sufficiency and even abundance.
Mexico. By the early 1950s, CIMMYT developed new seeds which had an inherently 20-40% higher yield than seeds available in 1940 had. With this success, combined with other rural programs, Mexico was a net food exporter in the 1960s. Large water management programs were on the drawing boards to make maximum use of the plentiful Sierra Madre Mountains’ run-off, and to launch nuclear power plant development.
India, in 1974, became food self-sufficient, ending the famine legacy from the days of the British East India Company and the Empire. This achievement, reflecting the commitment of government, science, and farm leaders, was built on the country-to-country collaboration with Mexico from the 1960s. As of 1964, Indian and Pakistani farm scientists, trained in Mexico, began field tests with the new CIMMYT Green Revolution wheat seeds on the Indian Subcontinent.
Sudan, the largest nation in Africa, has an arable land base of 200 million acres that could easily be cultivated—equivalent to half the cultivated farmland area of the United States. But as of 1954, at the time of its independence from Britain, the challenge was to overcome the colonial legacy of very restricted cotton-growing; barely 7% of Sudan’s area was cultivated, with little irrigation. Ambitious plans were laid, in collaboration with Egypt, to create vast improvements in land use and controlled water supply. The keystone project was to channel the flow of the White Nile, part of the Upper Nile system, with the 360-kilometer Jonglei canal. Requiring a long lead time, construction did start in 1980, and was two-thirds complete in three years. (By the mid-1980s, it was thwarted by the Gorey networks described below.)
In the United States during these immediate post-war years, improvements in agricultural productivity were achieved. For example, corn yields: Whereas in 1931, the U.S. average corn per acre harvest was 24 bushels—the same as at the time of the Civil War, by 1941, this rose to 31 bushels. By 1980, the U.S. average was 100 bushels an acre, from hybrid seeds, mineral fertilizers, and other advances.
One key principle to this agricultural development process was most explicitly implemented as law in the United States, beginning during the Roosevelt Administration in the 1930s, through the wartime food mobilization drive, and then for a time after the war: the concept that it is in the national interest for there to be a stable, family-scale farm sector. To achieve this, the government could mandate the price levels that private buyers of farmers’ commodities would have to pay, in order for the farm family to receive an income on a par with their costs of production (including a decent profit, with which to plough back into the household and farm operation). This was known as a parity pricing program. In the case where the government wanted to induce more output, whether wheat, honey, milk, or many other commodities, a parity price over 100% would be set for a relevant time period. If there appeared to be overproduction, a parity price of less than 100%, would obtain for a specified time.
The last explicit law of this type in the United States was that of 1949, following on 1933 and 1938 parity pricing acts.
Enemies of the right and responsibility of nations to see to their own food supply, bitterly attacked the parity pricing concept with epithets such as “communist,” and “outmoded.” In time, they succeeded in forcing out the parity pricing principle altogether, in favor of the “market forces” pricing concept, the euphemism for privatizing and globalization.
Assault on Nations, 1970s
By the 1970s, the opponents of the principle of a world of thriving nations, had regrouped to conduct multiple assaults on the attempts at national agro-industrial development. One of the most destructive was the 1971 removal of the U.S. dollar from the gold reserve standard, and the launch of a floating-exchange-rate currency system. Nations with trade relations involving farm and other commodities, including agriculture inputs, were thrown into uncertainty. They were hit with terrible terms of trade, in which they had to try to obtain expensive dollars to cover essential imports of machinery or chemicals, and yet sell what they had to export at destructively low prices.
Then came more chaos, in the form of the 1973 Oil Crisis, setting the conditions for price spikes, and spot market speculation. This was orchestrated out of London, with the connivance of Henry Kissinger, then U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, who boasted at Chatham House in 1982, that he was proud to be an agent of Britain!
The same kind of orchestrated chaos ensued after the 1972 “Great Grain Robbery.” In this episode, sizable Russian purchases were made on U.S. grain markets—through the usual world grain cartel companies. Then, during the ensuing period of price spikes, U.S. farmers were subjected to heavy propaganda that they could best succeed on “free markets.” Kissinger struck a new cartel-serving shipping treaty, that opened U.S. ports to foreign carriers for future free trade.
All the while, a network of supranational commodity cartel companies, interconnected with Anglo-Dutch financial circles, was tightening its grip on world food flows, from farm to table. The lineage of the leading firms traces back about 250 years, to patterns of control over grain flows in Russia, Europe, North Africa, and related. The major names are legendary, including André, Louis-Dreyfus, Bunge, Continental/Fribourg, and Cargill. Later, ADM—plus in Europe, Nestlé, Unilever, Castle & Cook, and more. Along with Big Oil, these Big Grain firms extended their control over the most basic necessities. Merchants of Grain was the name of the 1979 exposé book by Dan Morgan, then and still at the Washington Post, which covered much of the history and mid-century doings of these transnationals. Carefully omitted were the political/financial connections, referred to as “synarchist,” by U.S. intelligence during World War II.
The case of Argentina shows the typical way these companies moved for control. In the immediate post-World War II years, efforts to develop Argentina, by investing the foreign sales of its grain, back into agro-industrial capacity, were undertaken by the Juan Perón government. In 1948, Perón established the Argentine Institute for the Promotion of Trade (IAPI), institutionalizing the right of the government to control the cereals trade for its goals of raising finances for industrialization. This policy came under fierce attack from the grain cartel companies. With the connivance of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Averell Harriman, the IAPI was ended, as soon as Perón was ousted in 1955. The grain-control operations of the cartel firm Bunge y Born soon re-established control, becoming known as “The Octopus,” for its far-reaching domination of commodities in Argentina and Brazil, from paint to food.
A few facts from the Cargill story are exemplary of the cartel process globally. Cargill Co., the world’s largest grain company, is privately owned and based in the Minneapolis, Minnesota suburb of Minnetonka. It was founded by Scotsman William Cargill, in Conover, Iowa in 1865, and has been run, since the 1920s, by the billionaire MacMillan family. The Cargill operations arose through strategic acquisitions of grain-handling, storage, and transportation infrastructure, in the flow of the output of the U.S. grainbelt to domestic processing centers, and to ports for foreign shipment. The Cargills and MacMillans had a chokehold on the Mississippi Basin “grainshed” at Minneapolis-St.Paul and other points. Their widely diversified holdings ranged from steel and shipbuilding, to salt, fertilizer, and orange juice. During World War II, when the Old World commodity powers moved extensively into North America, Cargill expanded its control over commodity flows. In 1947, it opened big grain facilities in Puerto Rico; in 1948 it built big grain elevators in São Paulo and Paraná, Brazil. In North America, it built a huge, ice-free port on the mouth of the St. Lawrence River at Baie-Comeau.
Cargill’s domination came not only from physical positioning, but from political clout, mostly by stealth and menace. Indicative is that in 1956, Cargill set up its world office in Geneva, Switzerland, called Tradax, Inc. One veteran Cargill officer involved was Pearsall Helms, whose brother Richard, later became director of the CIA. Cargill’s Africa operations are run out of Europe.
‘Farms and People Pollute’
The clincher to all this economic warfare against nations, was the post-1968 culture of pessimism, epitomized by the founding of Earth Day in 1970. The theme was that the Earth’s resources were depleting, and population must be curbed. In 1968, Paul Ehrlich’s book Population Bomb was released. William Paddock, unofficial State Department advisor (1975-80), wrote Famine 1975, saying that famine was inevitable. In 1972, the Club of Rome was founded, releasing the book Limits to Growth, to assert, by computer simulation, that the world’s limits to growth had been reached, and zero growth must be enforced..A slew of media operations and new agencies were mobilized to pound on this message. With the rock-drug counterculture under way as part of the campaign, the degradation operation proceeded.
In 1974, several key events in agriculture policy occurred. A World Food Conference was convened in Rome, to address how to defeat hunger. However, Secretary of State Kissinger was sent at the last minute to represent the United States, after an orchestrated scandal cancelled the trip of Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz—an “old school” farm advocate. Instead of addressing the need to rev up agriculture capacity, Kissinger’s theme was that nations should try to help the needy with a little food aid. Meantime, in December, he signed a secret National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM 200), calling for the deliberate suppression of 13 strategically important nations, so that they would not be using up resources that the United States and its allies want. The nations were India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, Ethiopia, and Colombia.
Along with these specific and other government actions, a set of non-governmental agencies was created, to proliferate propaganda that the Earth’s resources are limited, technology is dangerous and can’t overcome scarcity, etc. In 1974, the Worldwatch Institute was established in Washington, D.C. (see appendix). In 1982 the World Resources Institute was founded, headed by Gus Spaeth, to issue pseudo-scientific tracts saying that expanding the food supply and population destroys the environment. Al Gore is on their board today.
Over the 1970s, there were intense operations by the World Wildlife Fund (founded in 1961), run in tandem with the Conservation Foundation (a U.S. continuation of a pre-World War II Europe-based, eugenicist “nature” society). In 1991, the two merged, and subsequently became known as the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Their assault on food and agriculture was profound. They mounted a campaign to force governments to remove land from agricultural production, in the name of “conserving” scarce resources. In the United States, an entirely new program was established, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). As of today, it has over 30 million acres locked up, out of a crop base of 365 million acres. The “Wetlands Reserve” is taking still more land out of production.
Lyndon LaRouche led a pitched battle over the 1970s against these networks, operations, and especially the science fakery. As a Presidential candidate in 1976, he was on the ballot in 26 states, under the U.S. Labor Party banner. The symbol of his agro-industrial campaign was a high-tech tractor. Over 1979-80, local tractor protests occurred; and a huge tractorcade of farmers streamed into Washington, D.C. to protest the takedown of the U.S. farm sector. Their immediate burden came from a crushing debt load caused by underpayment for their commodities, and double-digit borrowing costs.
Other statesmen continued the fight. On March 18, 1980, Mexican President José López Portillo called for a national food self-sufficiency policy, called the Mexican Food System. He called for building 20 nuclear power plants. On food, he said, “The objective of the Mexican Food System is to reach self-sufficiency in each of the key subsystems of national nutrition: grains, edible oils, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, milk, and eggs….” It wasn’t to be.
Mad Cow Loosed, 1980s
Over the 1980s, an even greater onslaught came against national agriculture, industry, and energy programs, led by the “Mad Cow” in office in Britain, Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990. Her government was the world model for radical privatization schemes, deregulation of government functions, and privateering free-trade practices.
For the record: Even her epithet, “Mad Cow,” came about, due to London’s ideological free-trade practices. The BSE brain-wasting disease—bovine spongiform encephalopathy, called Mad Cow—broke out for the first time ever, in Britain, around 1986, and was widely exported. Veterinarians attribute the occurrence directly to the Thatcher government’s malfeasance. Soon after she was elected, a national livestock sanitation board asked the government to intervene to prevent any tainted sheep matter from being cycled elsewhere into the livestock feed chain, because there was at the time in the U.K., a widespread outbreak of sheep scrapie, TSE (transmissible spongiform encephalopathy). Thatcher and Agriculture Minister Lord Peter Walker refused, on the grounds that the animal feed sector should “regulate itself.” Within six years, after tainted matter continued to be blended into animal feed, the species jump from sheep to cows occurred.
Internationally, private cartels expanded their chokehold all along the food chain over the 1980s, under the pressure by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and other institutions, to follow the Thatcher model of non-regulation and privatization. The World Bank began phasing out any of its limited, effective loans for infrastructure for low-income nations to build up agricultural potential. Instead, the World Bank began funding privatization schemes, including the Felix Rohatyn-type, “public-private partnerships.”
Part of the pseudo-science cover for this was that, “small and local is better, and more sustainable.” For example, an October 1984 report of the World Bank, “Toward the Sustainable Development of Sub-Saharan Africa,” called for large-scale water projects to be “re-examined”—meaning cancelled—given the “extreme shortage of resources.”
Year after year, more farmland was being removed from food production, due to erosion, salination, or to insane set-aside programs, all the while that cartel companies were pushing nations to agree to cash crops for foreign markets. Less and less food was being produced per capita internationally.
In October 1982, the U.S. Congress granted the Commodity Credit Corp. of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) discretion to convert government grain stocks to gasohol fuel, and kicked off the ethanol promotion program, giving Cargill and ADM multi-billions for government-subsidized ethanol. The next year, an unprecedented U.S. food output reduction program was enacted, called “Payment-in-Kind,” in which farmers were given claim chits for government-controlled surplus corn stocks, in exchange for idling 30-50% of their corn acreage. Then, during the very same 1983 crop season, a 50-year drought hit, and that entire year’s corn harvest fell by 50% from its recent previous levels.
LaRouche warned of the consequences of continuing this insanity. Addressing the underlying question of science, he released a book in 1983, There Are No Limits to Growth. He conferred on the crisis in Argentina in 1984, with scientists and political leaders, and with other world leaders. During the U.S. Presidential race, he released two national half-hour TV shows on the crisis. One was titled, “The Food Shock of 1984.”
But the same year, the GATT was used as the venue for an all-out attempt at a one-world trade treaty, to make it even easier for the private, neo-British-East-India-Company networks to subvert nation-serving agriculture. An opening round of trade talks began at Punta del Este, Uruguay, aimed at “reforming” agricultural trade, by coercing nations to remove tariffs, export controls, and national regulations. Over the next ten years, a drawn-out sequence of conferences were held in Montreal and elsewhere, attended not only by national government officials, but by Cargill, ADM, major banks, and non-governmental agencies. Finally, nations succumbed, and the date was set for January 1995, for the World Trade Organization to start up.
In Fall 1988, after another devastating drought in the U.S. corn belt, the Schiller Institute’s “Food for Peace” effort was initiated, to fight internationally against the GATT/WTO drive, and for national development. (Documents from this work are available at www.schillerinstitute.org/food_for_peace/ffp_main_page.html.) LaRouche spoke in October in West Berlin, and at a Food for Peace conference in Chicago in December, pointing to the prospect of the split-up of the Soviet bloc, and calling for international collaboration to re-commit to restoring agro-industrial capacity. (See EIR, April 18, 2008.)
The degree to which nations’ food security was being undercut, was apparent by how much they were being coerced to become food import-dependent. EIR did a study of the food-sufficiency status of the 13 nations named in 1974 by Kissinger and the British, to be hit by the food weapon. Two points in time were compared—1963 and 1990—for how self-sufficient each nation was for certain food staples. A few representatives examples:
The Americas: Mexico was 100% self-sufficient in cereals in 1963, and down to 79% in 1990; 104% self-sufficient in beans in 1963, and down to 85% in 1990; in oils, 110% self-sufficient in 1963, and down to 57% in 1990.
Africa: Egypt was 84% self-sufficient in cereals in 1963, and down to 62% in 1990; 112% self-sufficient in beans in 1963, and down to 88% in 1990; in oils, 103% in 1963, and down to 90% in 1990.
Indian Subcontinent: India continued its self-sufficiency following 1974, and even conducted selective food exports. But Pakistan saw declines. Bangladesh went from 106% self-sufficiency in 1963 down to 87% in 1990; in beans, from 100% down to 88%; in oils, it increased from 71% self-sufficient to 83%. (See article on the Bangladesh crisis today, p. 17.)
Southeast Asia: The Philippines declined in cereals self-sufficiency from 83% in 1963, down to 80% in 1990; in beans, from 97% down to 47%; and oils, from 266% down to 101%.
China achieved self-sufficiency over the 1960s to 1990 period, with intent to make even more improvements to upgrade nutrition levels, for which the nation has been singled out for attack as “overusing scarce resources.” However, the loss of farmland to aridity and residential sprawl, began to present a threat to future food output gains. The area of China’s arable/permanent cropland base declined from 101.6 million hectares in 1970, down to 95.67 million ha in 1990. This loss came from erosion, dryness, sprawl, and other factors.
Toward Famine, 1990s
Thus, the decade of the 1990s should have been the time to restore and redouble nation-serving agro-industrial measures, given the increasing hunger and food shortages in Africa and elsewhere, and also the urgent need to continue the successes of India and China, home to 2 billion people. However, the very opposite came to pass. A sequence of free-trade pacts accelerated the degradation of agricultural potential and lack of food self-sufficiency. In 1989, the Canadian-U.S. Free Trade Pact went into effect, followed in 1994 by the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA). In January 1995 came the WTO. Later there would be the Caribbean Free Trade Act (CAFTA), and others in Europe and Africa.
In 1991, Europe saw the largest farmer demonstrations against low prices and free trade in history, focussed against the GATT/WTO plans, in Paris, Luebeck, Strasbourg, Rome, and many other locations. In Spring 1993, the largest farmer demonstrations ever took place in Argentina. But the lock on public policy by the globalizers remained in place.
One of the ugliest manifestations of the cartel free-trade, food-control system, was the increasing “global sourcing” of food to feed the United States and Europe. In the process, farmers were ground under in both the importing and exporting regions.
In the United States by 1995, fully 13% of food consumption was imported, way up from 9% in 1980. Some categories have soared—for example, fish and shell-fish. In the early 1980s, 51% of U.S. consumption of these foods was imported; today, 78%. Dramatic rises also occurred for fruits, juices, and nuts. In the early 1980s, 21% of U.S. consumption of these foods was imported (much of it being tropical, such as bananas), but today, this has risen to 31% overall, and includes huge quantities of non-tropical products, such as apple juice. Today, approximately 50% of U.S. apple juice comes from China, and other fruit juices from Turkey, South Africa, and Asia.
The food flows from Africa to Europe have grown similarly. Besides the tropical cocoa and coffee, there are large shipments of “mid-latitude European” products, including green beans and flowers from East Africa, as well as fruits and vegetables from South Africa.
On a world scale, the major processor cartels moved to impose gigantic monoculture regions, for their domination of key oil and grain crops and products. Figure 4 shows the huge area turned over to soybeans in Argentina and Brazil by 2004. By 2008, over 45% of all arable land in Argentina is in soy cultivation. This is the analog of the British East India Company’s practices of decreeing where and how cash crops would be grown—indigo, cotton, jute, and whatever else the Empire desired.
The present-day monoculture is abetted by the unprecedented changes in patent law, giving sweeping rights to agro-cartel companies for introduction of seeds and methods of genetic bioengineering: Cargill/Monsanto, Dupont/Pioneer, and others (see article). As for the leading participants in WTO “free” trade, the degree of concentration is also a dramatic irony. Cargill and ADM are two of the top firms dominating over 65% of all soy trade. They are also among the top three dominating over 80% of U.S. corn exports. Cargill, ADM, and only two others control 60% of the terminal grain-handling facilities in the United States.
The misery and want connected to this vast WTO-era degradation of agriculture is manifest in the death rate in Africa, including HIV/AIDS, and suffering among some 900 million people in 70 countries.
Given the rage at the perpetrators of this harm, it is no wonder that in 1999 the “Seattle Round” of the WTO talks, ended in a bust. The conference was disbanded with no results, as various developing nations refused to go along with the free-trade dictates. This outcome was in order. Nevertheless, the WTO continues to stalk the world.
In November 2001, in Qatar, the current WTO Doha Round was begun. Its continuing goal is to yet further lower national “barriers” to borderless trade, on behalf of the Brutish Empire. At subsequent Doha Round talks in Cancun, Hong Kong, and Geneva, stand-offs among nations have continued.
Biofuels and Genocide, 2000s
As of the turn of the century, the lack of adequate food and necessities for millions of people was at desperation levels. Yet far from taking even minimal measures, major governments and UN institutions stood by as even the level of tonnage of annual food aid dropped. (Figure 5). Then came the genocide program: biofuels.
An evil axis of neo-conservatives and neo-greens combined to bumrush governments into passing laws setting national mandates for how much biofuel must be blended into gasoline and diesel fuel in coming years. The Energy Law of 2005 in the United States sets these goals. The same year France passed such a law, and now dozens of nations have followed suit.
Gigantic neo-plantations for gasohol have been concentrated in the Americas—across the corn belt in the U.S.A., and the cane belt in Brazil. The big players are the usual cartels and financial circles behind globalization, including Cargill, ADM, Bunge, George Soros, and Bill Gates.
Al Gore is acting as head cheerleader in the biofools parade, in lock-step with neo-cons such as George Shultz and James Woolsey, who use “energy independence,” instead of the Gorey “save-the-planet” pitch, to promote the bio-energy fraud. (See article, page 19.)
There are even proposals for two dedicated biofuels pipelines: a 1,700-mile ethanol pipeline from Iowa to New York Harbor; and in Brazil, an 800-mile pipeline from the inland state of Goias, through Minas Gerais, to the port at Paulinia/São Paolo. These proposals don’t represent agricultural “infrastructure” any more than Nazi workcamps represented factories.
Fully 24% of the U.S. corn crop this year (September 2007 to 2008) is expected to go into corn ethanol, according to the USDA. The previous year it was 18%. The volume of U.S. corn used for ethanol now exceeds the amount of U.S. corn going for export to the world human food chain (Figure 6).
These are the parameters of today’s epic famine danger. There is no “fix” to this threat, by staying within the framework of the markets game of the last 30 years, and the WTO. The harm done was not the result of “misguided” policies. It was intentional, and of the same degraded outlook toward mankind that gave us the British East India Company and the British Empire years ago. Many of today’s food-control networks are, in fact, lineal descendents. Al Gore is their hired hand in mass murder.
End the evil. Don’t play the game. Bury the WTO!
Christine Craig prepared the data and graphs in this article. Contact the authors at •••@••.•••.