Sunday 26th of June 2022

genes, food, deceit, RNA, genetically modified destruction, police...

wheat and weed...


This wheat field has a problem: it has three and a half weeds by square kilometre... You can see it it's the green stuff in the picture of the edge of the field. Picture by Gus.... It's a 2319 ALERT !... Bring in the roundup squad, the choppers and the military... 

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August 16, 2013  |  

 

The police raid of a small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, which lasted for more than 10 hours and included aerial surveillance and a SWAT team, resulted in a confiscation of vegetables and plants on the property only,  Huff Post reported.

Owners of the property called “Garden of Eden” are now demanding an apology from police and compensation for what was taken from them including 17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants, native grasses and sunflowers, after police were granted a search warrant for marijuana plants. Ironically, no evidence of marijuana was found on the property. 

The raid resulted in all adults being handcuffed and the residents held inside at gunpoint for at least half an hour, according to owner Shellie Smith:

"They came here under the guise that we were doing a drug trafficking, marijuana-growing operation…They destroyed everything,” she told WFAA.

"There were sunflowers for our bees and gifting. Lots of okra, and we had a sweet potato patch that they whacked down with a Weed-Eater…The weeds that we used to shade our crops are also gone”, she said.

http://www.alternet.org/activism/police-destroy-organic-farm-massive-swat-team-raid
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meanwhile:

5 Foods You May Not Know Are Genetically Modified

August 7, 2013  |  

The following article first appeared in Mother Jones. [1] Click here to subscribe.  [3]

By now, you've likely heard about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the controversy over whether they're the answer to world hunger [4] or the devil incarnate [5]. But for right now, let's leave aside that debate and turn to a more basic question: When you go to the supermarket, do you know which foods are most likely to be—or contain ingredients that are—genetically engineered? A handy FAQ:

So what exactly are genetically modified organisms? 
GMOs are plants or animals that have undergone a process wherein scientists alter their genes with DNA from different species of living organisms, bacteria, or viruses to get desired traits such as resistance to disease or tolerance of pesticides.

But haven't farmers been selectively breeding crops to get larger harvests for centuries? How is this any different?
Over at Grist,Nathanael Johnson has a great 
answer [6] to this question—but in a nutshell: Yes, farmers throughout history have been raising their plants to achieve certain desired traits [7] such as improved taste, yield, or disease resistance. But this kind of breeding still relies on the natural reproductive processes of the organisms, where as genetic engineering involves the addition of foreign genes that would not occur in nature.

Am I eating GMOs?
Probably. Since several common ingredients like corn starch and soy protein are predominantly derived from genetically modified crops, it's pretty hard to avoid GM foods altogether. In fact, GMOs are present in 60 to 70 percent of foods on US supermarket shelves, according to Bill Freese at the 
Center for Food Safety [8]; the vast majority of processed foods contain GMOs. One major exception is fresh fruits and veggies. The only GM produce you're likely to find is the Hawaiian papaya, a small amount of zucchini and squash, and some sweet corn. No meat, fish, and poultry products approved for direct human consumption are bioengineered at this point [9], though most of the feed for livestock and fish is derived from GM corn, alfalfa, and other biotech grains. Only organic varieties of these animal products are guaranteed GMO-free feed.

So what are some examples of food that are genetically modified?


1. Papayas: In the 1990s, Hawaiian papaya trees were plagued by the ringspot virus [10] which decimated nearly half the crop in the state. In 1998, scientists developed a transgenic fruit called Rainbow papaya, which is resistant to the virus. Now 77 percent of the crop [11] grown in Hawaii is genetically engineered (GE).

2. Milk: RGBH, or recombinant bovine growth hormone, is a GE variation on a naturally occurring hormone injected into dairy cows to increase milk production. It is banned for milk destined for human consumption in the European Union, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Many milk brands that are rGBH-free label their milk as such, but as much as 40 percent of our dairy products [12], including ice cream and cheese, contains the hormone.

3. Corn on the cob: While 90 percent of corn [13] grown in the United States is genetically modified, most of that crop is used for animal feed or ethanol and much of the rest ends up in processed foods. Sweet corn—the stuff that you steam or grill on the barbecue and eat on the cob—was GMO-free until last year when Monsanto rolled out its first GE harvest of sweet corn [14]. While consumers successfully petitioned Whole Foods and Trader Joe's to not carry the variety, Walmart has begun stocking the shelves [15] with it without any label.

4. Squash and zucchini: While the majority of squashes on the market are not GE, approximately 25,000 acres of crookneck, straightneck, and zucchinis have beenbioengineered to be virus resistant [16].

5. "All natural" foods: Be wary of this label if you're trying to avoid GE foods. Right now there is no strict definition of what constitutes a natural food. This could be changing soon as federal court judges recently requested [17] the Food and Drug Administration to determine whether the term can be used to describe foods containing GMOs to help resolve pending class action suits against General Mills, Campbell Soup Co., and the tortilla manufacturer Gruma Corp.

http://www.alternet.org/print/food/5-foods-you-may-not-know-are-genetically-modified

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meanwhile at the science depot:

 

Our previous studies have demonstrated that stable microRNAs (miRNAs) in mammalian serum and plasma are actively secreted from tissues and cells and can serve as a novel class of biomarkers for diseases, and act as signaling molecules in intercellular communication. Here, we report the surprising finding that exogenous plant miRNAs are present in the sera and tissues of various animals and that these exogenous plant miRNAs are primarily acquired orally, through food intake. MIR168a is abundant in rice and is one of the most highly enriched exogenous plant miRNAs in the sera of Chinese subjects. Functional studies in vitro and in vivo demonstrated that MIR168a could bind to the human/mouse low-density lipoprotein receptor adapter protein 1 (LDLRAP1) mRNA, inhibit LDLRAP1 expression in liver, and consequently decrease LDL removal from mouse plasma. These findings demonstrate that exogenous plant miRNAs in food can regulate the expression of target genes in mammals.

http://www.nature.com/cr/journal/v22/n1/full/cr2011158a.html

 

If you understand what this means.... say OOOOPPPPPSSSS !!!!!

 


 

surprise ! I was not surprised...

In the present study, we were surprised to detect exogenous plant miRNAs in the serum and plasma of human and animals. Over half of plant miRNAs detected in serum and plasma are present in MVs. Further in vitro and in vivo analysis demonstrated for the first time that food-derived exogenous plant MIR168a can pass through the mouse gastrointestinal (GI) track and enter the circulation and various organs especially the liver where it cross-kingdomly regulates mouse LDLRAP1 protein expression and physiological condition.

 

http://www.nature.com/cr/journal/v22/n1/full/cr2011158a.html

Genetically modified (GM) india...

Genetically modified (GM) cotton in India is a failure. India should reject GM mustard. And like the Green Revolution, GM agriculture poses risks and is unsustainable. Regulatory bodies are dogged by incompetency and conflicts of interest. GM crops should therefore be banned.

You may have heard much of this before. But what is different this time is that the claims come from distinguished scientist P.C. Kesaven and his colleague M.S. Swaminathan, renowned agricultural scientist and geneticist and widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution in India.

Consider what campaigner and farmer Bhaskar Save wrote in his now famous open letter in 2006:

 

You, M.S. Swaminathan, are considered the ‘father’ of India’s so-called ‘Green Revolution’ that flung open the floodgates of toxic ‘agro’ chemicals, ravaging the lands and lives of many millions of Indian farmers over the past 50 years. More than any other individual in our long history, it is you I hold responsible for the tragic condition of our soils and our debt-burdened farmers, driven to suicide in increasing numbers every year.”


Back in 2009, Swaminathan was saying that no scientific evidence had emerged to justify concerns about GM crops, often regarded as stage two of the Green Revolution. In light of mounting evidence, however, he now condemns GM crops as unsustainable and says they should be banned in India.

In a new peer-reviewed paper in the journal Current Science, Kesaven and Swaminathan state that Bt insecticidal cotton has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers. These findings agree with those of others, many of whom the authors cite, including Dr K.R. Kranthi, former Director of the Central Institute for Cotton Research in Nagpur and Professor Andrew Paul Gutierrez and his colleagues.

The two authors conclude that both Bt crops and herbicide-tolerant crops are unsustainable and have not decreased the need for toxic chemical pesticides, the reason for these GM crops in the first place. Attention is also drawn to evidence that indicates Bt toxins are toxic to all organisms.

Kesaven and Swaminathan note that glyphosate-based herbicides, used on most GM crops, and their active ingredient glyphosate are genotoxic, cause birth defects and are carcinogenic. They also note that GM crop yields are no better than that of non-GM crops and that India already has varieties of mustard that out-yield the GM version which is now being pushed for.

The authors criticise India’s GMO regulating bodies due to a lack of competency and endemic conflicts of interest and a lack of expertise in GMO risk assessment protocols, including food safety assessment and the assessment of environmental impacts. They also question regulators’ failure to carry out a socio-economic assessment of GMO impacts on resource-poor small and marginal farmers.

Indeed, they call for “able economists who are familiar with and will prioritize rural livelihoods, and the interests of resource-poor small and marginal farmers rather than serve corporate interests and their profits.”

In the paper, it is argued that genetic engineering technology is supplementary and must be need based. In more than 99% of cases, the authors argue that time-honoured conventional breeding is sufficient. In other words, GM is not needed.

Turning to the Green Revolution, the authors say it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts. Some have argued that a more ‘systems-based’ approach to agriculture would mark a move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking and would properly address concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution.

In fact, Kesaven and Swaminathan note that a sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’ based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’ would guarantee equitable food security by ensuring access of rural communities to food.

There is a severe agrarian crisis in India and the publication of their paper (25 November) was very timely. It came just three days before tens of thousands of farmers from all over India gathered in Delhi to march to parliament to present their grievances and demands for justice to the Indian government.

 

Read more:

https://off-guardian.org/2018/12/14/gm-crops-the-agrarian-crisis/

 

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herbicide malfunction...

Some of Australia's biggest vegetable farmers are fighting for compensation, claiming their food crops were decimated by contaminated herbicides.

Multinational chemical companies Syngenta and Nufarm recalled tens of thousands of litres of tainted herbicide in late 2016 and early 2017.

The products are commonly used on a range of vegetable crops including spring onions, leeks, carrots, celery and corn to control weeds.

They contained impurities from different herbicides, which have been traced back to the manufacturer.

But not before many farmers unwittingly sprayed the polluted products on their farms.

The national agrochemical regulator says the contaminants don't pose a risk to human health, if used according to instructions.

But some growers claim the toxic mix-up wiped out many tonnes of valuable produce.

'Huge financial stress'

One farmer, who doesn't want to be named, says his business and his family have been devastated by the contamination.

"The crops just weren't performing, they weren't growing as they should, they were just slow or stunted, pale."

He says agricultural experts have ruled out other potential causes, and tests suggest chemicals are to blame.

 

Read more:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-17/australian-vegetable-farmers-legal-action-tainted-herbicides/

 

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moratorium on GMO...

A new ‘Political Manifesto’ has demanded an indefinite moratorium on the environmental release of GMOs in India pending independent and rigorous biosafety risk assessment and regulation.

The documents states:

 

GMO contamination of our seeds, our foundation seed stock, will change the structure of our food at the molecular level. Any harm or toxicity that there is will remain, without the possibility of remediation or reversibility.”

 

Signed by high-profile organisations and individuals, including farmer’s organisation Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, Aruna Rodrigues (Lead Petitioner: Supreme Court GMO PIL), Kavitha Kuruganti and Vandana Shiva as well as dozens of co-signatories, the manifesto demands the introduction of a biosafety protection act, which would prioritise India’s biosafety and biodiversity and implement the GMO moratorium, while preventing the import of any GMOs into India.

The manifesto also calls for a ban on the herbicides glyphosate and glufosinate as well as for national consultations and a parliamentary debate to formulate policy to establish and incentivize agroecological systems of farming as a means of avoiding ecosystems collapse. In addition, the document wants a pledge that farmers’ traditional knowledge and inherent seed freedom will remain secure and that there should be no patents on GMO seeds or plants.

The release of the manifesto coincides with the upcoming 2019 Indian general election, which begins in April.

 

Read more:

https://off-guardian.org/2019/04/02/indian-manifesto-demands-indefinite-...

 

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the food of conquests...

FAST FOOD NATIONS AND GLOBAL NUTRITION


Daniel Maingi works with small farmers in Kenya and belongs to the organisation Growth Partners for Africa. He remembers a time when his family would grow and eat a diversity of crops, such as mung beans, green grams, pigeon peas and a variety of fruits now considered ‘wild’.


Following the Structural Adjustment Programmes of the 1980s and 1990s, the foods of his childhood have been replaced with maize. He says that in the morning you make porridge from maize. For lunch, it’s boiled maize and a few green beans. In the evening, a dough-like maize dish is served with meat. He adds that it is now a monoculture diet.


The situation is encapsulated by Vandana Shiva who says if we grow millets and pulses, we will have more nutrition per capita. But If we grow food by using chemicals, we are growing monocultures, which leads to less nutrition per acre, per capita. Monocultures do not produce more food and nutrition but use more chemicals and are therefore profitable for agrochemical companies.


JUNK FOOD AND FREE TRADE


Moving from Africa to Mexico, we can see that agri-food concerns have infiltrated the food system there too. They are taking over food distribution channels and replacing local foods with cheap processed commodities. Free trade and investment agreements have been critical to this process and an alarming picture is set out of the consequences for ordinary people, not least in terms of their diet and health.


In 2012, Mexico’s National Institute for Public Health released the results of a national survey of food security and nutrition. Between 1988 and 2012, the proportion of obese women between the ages of 20 and 49 increased from 9 to 37 per cent. Mexican children are increasingly overweight, while one in ten school age children suffered from anaemia. Diabetes is now the third most common cause of death in Mexico.


The former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Olivier De Schutter concluded that the trade policies currently in place favour greater reliance on heavily processed and refined foods. He added that the overweight and obesity emergency that Mexico is facing could have been avoided or largely mitigated if the health concerns linked to shifting diets had been integrated into the design of those policies.


The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has led to foreign direct investment in food processing and a change in the country’s retail structure. As well as the emergence of global agribusiness companies in Mexico, there has been an explosive growth of chain supermarkets and convenience stores. Traditional corner shops are giving way to corporate retailers that offer the processed food companies even greater opportunities for sales. For example, Oxxo (owned by Coca-cola subsidiary Femsa) was on course to open its 14,000th store sometime during 2015.


In Mexico, the loss of food sovereignty has induced catastrophic changes in the nation’s diet and trade policies have effectively displaced large numbers of smallholder farmers. India should take heed. The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey 2016-18 highlights similar disturbing trends in India.


BAD FOOD IN INDIA


Policymakers have been facilitating the corporatisation of Indian agriculture and the food processing and retail sectors, both of which have tended to be small scale and key to supporting local (rural) economies and livelihoods. There are of course major implications for food security and food sovereignty, but what this could mean for the nation’s diet and health is clear to see.


The commodification of seeds, the selling of more and more chemicals to spray on crops or soil, the chemicalisation of food and the selling of pharmaceuticals or the expansion of private hospitals to address the health impacts of the modern junk food system is ‘good for business’. And what is good for business is good for GDP growth, or so we are told. This is nonsense.


In the latest edition of India’s Current Science journal, a guest editorial by Seema Purushothaman notes the importance that small farms could play in addressing poverty, inequality, hunger, health and climate issues. But the development paradigm is obsessed with a misguided urban-centric GDP ‘growth’ model.


And that author is correct. Whether it involves Mexico or India, to address nutrition, we must focus on small farmers. They and their families constitute a substantial percentage of the country’s poor (and undernourished) and are the ones that can best supply both rural and urban populations with nutritious foods cultivated using agroecological farming practices.


Numerous high-level official reports have emphasised the key role that such farmers could have in providing food security.


However, western agri-food corporations are acquiring wider entry into India and are looking to gain a dominant footprint within the sector. This is being facilitated by World Bank ‘ease of doing business’ and ‘enabling the business of agriculture’ directives as well as the implementation of the corporate-driven Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA), which was signed with the US in 2005.


These corporations’ front groups are also hard at work. According to a September 2019 report in the New York Times, ‘A Shadowy Industry Group Shapes Food Policy Around the World’, the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) has been quietly infiltrating government health and nutrition bodies. The article lays bare ILSI’s influence on the shaping of high-level food policy globally, not least in India.


ILSI helps to shape narratives and policies that sanction the roll out of processed foods containing high levels of fat, sugar and salt. In India, ILSI’s expanding influence coincides with mounting rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.


Accused of being little more than a front group for its 400 corporate members that provide its $17 million budget, ILSI’s members include Coca-Cola, DuPont, PepsiCo, General Mills and Danone. The report says ILSI has received more than $2 million from chemical companies, among them Monsanto. In 2016, a UN committee issued a ruling that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup, was “probably not carcinogenic,” contradicting an earlier report by the WHO’s cancer agency. The committee was led by two ILSI officials.


From India to China, whether it has involved warning labels on unhealthy packaged food or shaping anti-obesity education campaigns that stress physical activity and divert attention from the role of food corporations, prominent figures with close ties to the corridors of power have been co-opted to influence policy in order to protect agri-food corporations’ bottom line.


CULTIVATION


In the absence of government support for agriculture or an effective programme for delivering optimal nutrition, farmers are also being driven to plant crops that potentially bring in the best financial returns.


A recent article on the People’s Archive of Rural India website highlights farmers in a region of Odisha are being pushed towards a reliance on (illegal) expensive genetically modified herbicide-tolerant cotton seeds and are replacing their traditional food crops.


The region’s strength lay in multiple cropping systems, but commercial cotton monoculture has altered crop diversity, soil structure, household income stability, farmers’ independence and, ultimately, food security. It is also undermining farmers’ traditional knowledge of agroecology which has been passed down from one generation to the next.


Although agri-food capital has been moving in on India for some time, India is an agrarian-based country underpinned by smallholder agriculture and decentralised food processing. Foreign capital therefore first needs to displace the current model before bringing India’s food and agriculture sector under its control. This is precisely what is happening.


Although this article touches on many issues, at the heart of the discussion is how we regard food. Are we to be denied the fundamental right to healthy food and well-being or is food just another commodity to be controlled by rich corporations to boost their bottom line?

 

Read more:

https://off-guardian.org/2020/02/07/why-food-systems-are-breaking-down-across-the-world/

 

 

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See also:

 

http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/36448

encouraging small, local eco-food producers...

 

by Colin Todhunter

 

 There is no doubt that, contingent on World Bank aid to be given to poorer countries in the wake of coronavirus lockdowns, agrifood conglomerates will aim to further expand their influence.

It’s a sector which demands the entrenchment of capitalist agriculture via deregulation and the corporate control of seeds, land, fertilisers, water, pesticides, food processing and retail – domination of the entire chain from seed to plate.

These firms have been integral to the consolidation of a global food regime that has emerged in recent decades based on chemical- and proprietary-input-dependent agriculture which incurs massive social, environmental and health costs picked up by taxpayers. As if to pour oil on the fire, the food crisis that could follow in the wake of the various lockdowns may serve to further strengthen the prevailing system.

We are already seeing food shortages in the making. In India, for instance, supply chains have been disrupted, farm input systems for the supply of seeds and fertilisers have almost collapsed in some places and crops are not being harvested. Moreover, cultivation has been adversely affected prior to the monsoon and farm incomes are drying up. Farmers closer to major urban centres are faring a bit better due to shorter supply chains.

Veteran rural reporter P Sainath has urged India’s farmers to move away from planting cash crops and to start cultivating food crops, saying that you cannot eat cotton. It’s a good point. According to a report that appear on the ruralindiaonline website, in a region of southern Odisha, farmers have been pushed towards a reliance on (illegal) expensive genetically modified herbicide tolerant cotton seeds and have replaced their traditional food crops. Farmers used to sow mixed plots of heirloom seeds, which had been saved from family harvests the previous year and would yield a basket of food crops. They are now dependent on seed vendors, chemical inputs and a volatile international market to make a living and are no longer food secure.

But what is happening in India is a microcosm of global trends. Reliance on commodity monocropping for international markets, long global supply chains and dependency on external inputs for cultivation make the food system vulnerable to shocks, whether resulting from public health scares, oil price spikes (the global food system is heavily fossil-fuel dependent) or conflict. An increasing number of countries are recognising the need to respond by becoming more food self-sufficient, preferably by securing control over their own food and reducing supply chains.

Various coronavirus lockdowns have disrupted many transport and production activities, exposing the weaknesses of our current food system. While one part of the world (the richer countries) experiences surplus food but crop destruction due to farm labour shortages, millions of people elsewhere could face hunger due to rising food prices – or a lack of food availability altogether.

If the current situation tells us anything, it is that structural solutions are needed to reorganise food production, not further strengthen the status quo. In 2014, UN special rapporteur Olivier De Schutter’s reportconcluded that by applying agroecological principles to democratically controlled agricultural systems we can help to put an end to food crises and poverty challenges. He argued that agroecological approaches could tackle food needs in critical regions and could double food production in 10 years.

The 2009 IAASTD peer-reviewed report, produced by 400 scientists and supported by 60 countries, recommended agroecology to maintain and increase the productivity of global agriculture. And the recent UN FAO High Level Panel of Experts concluded that agroecology providesgreatly improved food security and nutritional, gender, environmental and yield benefits compared to industrial agriculture.

Agroecology is based on traditional knowledge and modern agricultural research, utilising elements of contemporary ecology, soil biology and the biological control of pests. This system combines sound ecological management by using on-farm renewable resources and privileging endogenous solutions to manage pests and disease without the use of agrochemicals and corporate seeds. It outperforms the prevailing industrial food system in terms of diversity of food output, nutrition per acre, soil health, water table stability and climate resilience. 

Writer and academic Raj Patel outlines some of the basic practices of agroecology by saying that nitrogen-fixing beans are grown instead of inorganic fertilizer; flowers are used to attract beneficial insects to manage pests; weeds are crowded out with more intensive planting. The result is a sophisticated polyculture—that is, it produces many crops simultaneously, instead of just one.

Much has been written about agroecology, its successes and the challenges it faces, not least in the 2017 Fertile Ground: Scaling agroecology from the ground up. Agroecology can offer concrete, practical solutionsto many of the world’s problems. In doing so, it challenges – and offers alternatives to – the prevailing moribund doctrinaire economics of a neoliberalism that drives a failing system chemical-intensive industrial agriculture.

For instance, by creating securely paid labour-intensive agricultural work, it can also address the interrelated links between labour offshoring by rich countries and the removal of rural populations elsewhere who end up in sweat shops to carry out the outsourced jobs: the two-pronged process of neoliberal globalisation that has hollowed out the economies of the US and UK and which is displacing existing indigenous food production systems and undermining the rural infrastructure in places like India.

The Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology by Nyeleni in 2015 argued for building grass-root local food systems that create new rural-urban links, based on genuine agroecological food production. It added that agroecology requires local producers and communities to challenge and transform structures of power in society, not least by putting the control of seeds, biodiversity, land and territories, waters, knowledge, culture and the commons in the hands of those who feed the world.

It would mean that what ends up in our food and how it is grown is determined by the public good and not powerful private interests driven by commercial gain and the compulsion to subjugate farmers, consumers and entire regions to their global supply chains and questionable products (whether unhealthy food or proprietary pesticides and seeds). For consumers, the public good includes more diverse diets leading to better nutrition and enhanced immunity when faced with any future pandemic.

As Florence Tartanac, senior officer at Nutrition and Food Systems Division of the UN FAO, sated in April 2018:

[…]agroecological markets bring an increase in the availability of more diverse food, especially of local varieties, that are linked to traditional diets. Therefore, consumers’ awareness should be increased on the importance of diet diversification and its effects on physical and mental health as well as on the positive impacts of sustainable, local and traditional consumption on the social, economic and environmental compartments.”

She made these comments during the second FAO international symposium ‘Scaling up Agroecology to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’. And it’s a valid point seeing that the modern diet has become less diverse and is driving a major public health crisis in many countries.

Across the world, decentralised, regional and local community-owned food systems based on short(er) food supply chains that can cope with future shocks are now needed more than ever. But there are major obstacles given the power of agrifood concerns whose business models are based on global chains with all the devastating consequences it entails.

However, the report Towards a Food Revolution: Food Hubs and Cooperatives in the US and Italy offers some pointers for creating sustainable support systems for small food producers and food distribution. Moreover, the last few months have underscored the advantages of shorter supply chains, alternative food models and community supported agriculture. As Natasha Soares of Better Food Traders says:

It’s about diversity of supply; supermarkets have a stranglehold on the food retail business, but in order to have a resilient food supply we need to source our food from local, sustainable farmers.

But are governments ready to listen? Even if they are, many could have their hands tied.

Following the devastation caused by coronavirus-related lockdowns, World Bank Group President David Malpass has stated that poorer countries will be ‘helped’ to get back on their feet – on the condition that further neoliberal reforms and the undermining of public services are implemented and become further embedded.

He says that countries will need to implement structural reforms to help shorten the time to recovery and create confidence that the recovery can be strong:

For those countries that have excessive regulations, subsidies, licensing regimes, trade protection or litigiousness as obstacles, we will work with them to foster markets, choice and faster growth prospects during the recovery.”

In the face of economic crisis and stagnation at home, this seems like an ideal opportunity for Western capital to further open up and loot economies abroad. 

In effect, the coronavirus provides cover for the entrenchment of dependency and dispossession. Global conglomerates will be able to hollow out the remnants of nation state sovereignty.

In the meantime, the UK government at least seems to be content in supporting the status quo. BASF, the world’s largest chemicals company, makes agricultural, industrial and automotive products at its eight UK plants. It has received £1 billion in ‘coronavirus support’ funding (‘emergency loans’). This is by far the biggest payout so far agreed under the UK scheme. And Bayer shareholders voted to pay £2.75 billion in dividends just weeks before the firm received £600m as part of the British government’s emergency loan scheme which according to the Unearthed website comes without conditions. 

Given that the UK imports almost half its food, maybe such money would be better spent by funding and developing a national network of producer-consumer food hubs in every town/city.

 

Read more:

https://off-guardian.org/2020/06/08/lockdown-catastrophe-the-need-for-re...

 

 

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lift US sanctions and eat…….

The global food system, already weakened by pandemic-related shocks and the energy crisis, is expected to be severely impacted by the conflict in Ukraine and Western sanctions against Moscow, The Economist reports.

“Ukraine’s exports of grain and oilseeds have mostly stopped and Russia’s are threatened,” the report states.

According to the magazine, the two nations supply 12% of “traded calories.”

Earlier this week, wheat prices – up 53% since the start of 2022 – reportedly soared by further 6% shortly after India prohibited all exports of the vital food commodity with immediate effect because of an alarming heatwave.

In the 2021-2022 season, which began in July last year, Russian suppliers accounted for 16% of global wheat exports, and Ukrainian producers accounted for 10%. However, the conflict forced both nations to ban exports of the grain.

In February, Russia restricted the export of wheat, rye, barley and corn outside the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) until June 30. Meanwhile, Ukraine has shut its only remaining port in Odessa.

The situation was also exacerbated after Kazakhstan, another major grain supplier, largely banned exports to protect its domestic food supplies.

The number of people who cannot be sure of getting enough to eat has reportedly surged to 1.6 billion, while nearly 250 million are on the brink of famine. Hundreds of millions more could fall into poverty.

On May 18, Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, warned that the coming months threaten “the specter of a global food shortage” that could last for years.

 

READ MORE:

https://www.rt.com/business/555909-global-food-catastrophe-ukraine/

 

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