G8 to the rescue

Back in April, the so-called G8 Agricultural Ministerial threw a big party in Italy.  “Top agriculture leaders” from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Russia and the U.K. gathered to discuss world food and agriculture issues.  The cost of this conference was about $600 million, which is signficiantly more than the entire budget for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Association.

The U.S. delegation was led by long-time Frankenfood cheerleader and now Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.  Predictably, Mr. Vilsack used the summit to press his goal of expansion of genetically modified food sources, no doubt to the delight of the corporate owners of this so-called technology.  In his homestate of Iowa, the press was giddy:

If there was any question about how the Obama administration would get behind agricultural biotechnology, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is removing any doubt. In fact, he says he’s going to do a better job than the Bush administration.

 Just back from the G8 summit in Italy, Vilsack pledged today to bring a “more comprehensive and integrated” approach to promoting ag biotech overseas.

 That will be good news to biotech companies such as Pioneer Hi-Bred and Monsanto but it shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Vilsack was a vocal backer of the biotech industry as governor, and President Barack Obama has been a supporter as well.  


But what has the dumping of the cheap heavily subsidized products of industrial agriculture  done for developing countries?  Developing countries were until recently agriculturally self-sufficient net exporters.  In the 1960s they had an agricultural surplus of $7 billion.  That surplus shrank in the 1970s, as the dumping increased, to only about $1 billion.  By 2001 that surplus had turned into a deficit of $11 billion, as once self-sufficient food producers had become totally dependent upon imported taxpayer-subsidized American grain.  Their own agricultural communities had been ruined.

And now Mr. Vilsack and his corporate benefactors promise an even “more comprehensive and integrated approach.”  Good for Iowa.  Bad for everyone else.

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