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Local v. global agriculture,
This review is from: The Food Wars (Paperback)
Walden Bello returns in this essay to his favorite and mightily important themes of the world's economic (dis)order, national sovereignty, the immense chasm between the haves and the have-nots and the control by the haves of major international organisms (WTO, IMF, World Bank) in order to further their economic stranglehold on the defenseless.
International and national hypocrisy at a heavy cost for the victims
Through `structural adjustment' policies, international organizations like the IMF and the WTO, starved local agriculture of State support (fertilizer subsidies, price controls, food quotas and tariffs) in Africa, South-America and Asia. Under the cloak of `free markets', they killed the local peasantry by forcing the small farmers out of the production process, while favoring international food conglomerates. A number of food self-sufficient countries became net food importers instead of net exporters (Mexico for corn, the Philippines for rice).
Living standard inequalities worldwide didn't diminish as promised, but grew instead. In Africa, the number of people living on less than a dollar a day doubled.
Walden Bello stigmatizes those countries who control those organizations and the international food scene as cynical hypocrites using double standards by imposing free trade on the rest of the world, while in the meantime protecting and subsidizing their own national producers.
Local v. global food production
W. Bello's drastic solution for stemming the bleeding is deglobalization: production of `healthy' diversified food for local markets (self-sufficiency) thereby assuring national food sovereignty and security. Local agriculture should be protected against subsidized dumping prices and against the genetic engineering industry, which with its intellectual property rights on seeds means not less than the complete dispossession of the peasantry (their seeds).
Another threat is the agro fuel industry which diverts land from food production and could provoke an increase of food prices.
Of course, W. Bello's economic vision is in no way a neoliberal one, but also not one based on centralized planning.
His solution is `real' democracy, a mixed economy embedded in the civil society; not a society driven by the economy, but an economy driven by a democratic society. His proposed measures are land redistribution, reduction of environmental disequilibria (not chemical-intensive agriculture or biotechnology) and certainly not a market system which favors monocultures and monopoly profits.
Walden Bello's eminent book is a must read for all those who want to understand the world we live in.
I also highly recommend F. William Engdahl's book `Seeds of Destruction' and the movie 'Food Inc.' by Robert Kenner.