FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Future is Local: The Future is not Monsanto

The US as a nation consumes more than anyone else, virtually at the expense of everyone else. The petrodollar system has ensured that imports into the US have been cheap and readily available. Post 1945, Washington has been able to take full advantage of the labour and the material resources of poor countries.

Consider that ‘developing’ nations account for more than 80 percent of world population but consume only about a third of the world’s energy. Also bear in mind that US citizens constitute 5 percent of the world’s population but consume 24 percent 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 [see this].

The US is able to consume the way it does because of high demand for the US dollar: it is the world reserve currency. This demand for the dollar is guaranteed as most international trade is carried out using it. The international monetary system that emerged from the Bretton Woods Conference near the end of the Second World War was based on the US being the dominant economic power and the main creditor nation, with institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund eventually being created to serve US interests.

Ever since, the US has been able to lever the trade and financial system to its advantage. For example, in the seventies the spike in the price of oil allowed a huge flow of Saudi Arabia’s oil profits to Washington through that country purchasing US treasury bonds. At the same time, countries that were attempting to escape from the yolk of European colonialism in Africa were hit hard by the rising cost of oil. It was a win-win situation for Washington. The US could lend the Saudi-invested oil profits to these cash-strapped nations and thus ensure their continued servitude (especially when interest rates increased), this time to Washington [see this].

Despite the ongoing emergence of the BRICS and both Russia and China conducting bilateral trade and energy deals in their own currencies, the dollar retains a hold over the global monetary system (see Michael Hudson’s overview of treasury bond super-imperialism here), at least for the time being. Once the dollar loses this role, the US economy will experience a sharp decline and the cost of its imports will increase markedly.

How does the US try to avoid this? We can witness the answer to that question all around. From Syria and Iraq to Ukraine and current attempts to devastate the Russian economy, the powerful families and oligarchs that control the US are trying to destroy their rivals, including any attempt to move off the dollar. As a result, the prospect of nuclear war involving the US and Russia (and China) is a real and immediate concern.

The only real alternative is to move away from militarism and resource-driven conflicts by reorganising economies so that nations live within their economic and environmental means. Key to this involves a major reorientation regarding agriculture and food production.

However, Monsanto and the agribusiness cartel it belongs to continues to colonise areas of agriculture and offer ‘more of the same’ in terms of being tied to a military-industrial complex that fuels an imperialist US foreign policy. The ‘green revolution’ was exported courtesy of the oil-rich Rockefeller family, and poorer nations adopted petrochemical-dependent agriculture that required loans for inputs and infrastructure such as dam building. This was underpinned by the propaganda that these countries would earn dollars to repay the loans by adopting mono-crop, export-oriented policies. It entailed uprooting traditional agriculture and trapping nations into a globalised system of debt bondage, structural adjustment of economies and rigged markets. It ensured the dollar remained king.

Although this system is responsible for producing poverty, dependency and food insecurity, we are constantly informed that we must have more of the same if we are to feed an increasing global population. We are told that the solutions for feeding a projected world population of nine billion are more technical fixes: more petrochemical-dependent agriculture, more GMOs and more unnecessary shifting of food across the planet. Of course, throw in a heavy dose of ‘family planning’ (depopulation) for the ‘third world’ and we will be just fine.

Such solutions are based on the notion that we can just continue as we are, with an endless supply of oil, endless supplies of meat and the endless assault on soil, human and environmental well-being that intensive petrochemical agriculture entails. This short sightedness ignores the fact that oil will not last forever. Peak oil is on the immediate horizon, resource-driven conflicts are increasing, water is becoming scarcer, humans are becoming more ill due to the food production process and soil is dying.

The genuine answer is to adopt more organic and ecological farming systems that are locally based and less reliant on mechanisation and petrochemicals. This could also mean a shift away from an emphasis on producing meat that places a massive burden on the environment and is highly land, water and energy-input intensive.

Visit any supermarket in the US or Europe and there is an abundance of meat and exotic fruits from around the globe. Western consumers have been conditioned to expect this as the norm. What were once regarded as luxuries before are now seen as necessities. People and nations must return to being more self sufficient and not expect others in poorer countries to produce their food: farmers who are robbed of their capacity (their lands, seeds, markets, practices, food security, etc) to properly feed themselves and their local communities. What we see on those burgeoning supermarket shelves is often the result of structural violence arising from neoliberal economic policies in food exporting nations or outright violence arising from the forcible eviction of people from their lands. What we also see is tampered with items pumped with chemicals and hormones to boost profits. Consumers are also victims in the modern food chain.

Self-appointed purveyors of moral rectitude in politics and the corporate media are often all too keen to castigate welfare recipients within their own societies for being ‘spongers’ or ‘scroungers’, yet their moralistic bleating fails to obscure the fact that foodstuffs in their cupboards come courtesy of them sponging off the world’s poor and destitute who receive a pittance for their agricultural labour or who have now been forced to resort to rummaging on rubbish tips or begging for a living.

The current exploitative economic system and the imperialist model of globalisation and development suits the interests of Western oil and banking oligarchs, land and commodity speculators, global agribusiness and other power holders. People want solutions for hunger, poverty and conflict but are too often told there is no alternative to what exists.

There is. According to Daniel Maingi of Growth Partners for Africa, the solution ultimately lies in taking capitalism and business out of farming and investing in indigenous knowledge, agroecology, education and infrastructure and standing in solidarity with the food sovereignty movement. In turn, this is based on rejecting big agritech’s current agenda and resisting the US strategy of using agriculture as a geopolitical tool. As is the case with Navdanya in India, it involves challenging the corporate takeover of agriculture and embracing sustainable agriculture that is locally owned and rooted in the needs of communities.

More articles by:

Colin Todhunter is an extensively published independent writer and former social policy researcher based in the UK and India.

September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail