Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO): Profit, Power and Geopolitics


By Colin Todhunter
Global Research, December 15, 2014


Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not essential for feeding the world [1,2], but if they were to lead to increased productivity, did not harm the environment and did not negatively impact biodiversity and human health, would we be wise to embrace them anyhow?

The fact is that GMO technology would still be owned and controlled by certain very powerful interests. In their hands, this technology is first and foremost an instrument of corporate power, a tool to ensure profit. Beyond that, it is intended to serve US global geopolitical interests. Indeed, agriculture has for a long time been central to US foreign policy.

“American foreign policy has almost always been based on agricultural exports, not on industrial exports as people might think. It’s by agriculture and control of the food supply that American diplomacy has been able to control most of the Third World. The World Bank’s geopolitical lending strategy has been to turn countries into food deficit areas by convincing them to grow cash crops – plantation export crops – not to feed themselves with their own food crops.” Professor Michael Hudson [3].

The Project for a New American Century and the Wolfowitz Doctrine show that US foreign policy is about power, control and ensuring global supremacy at any cost [4,5]. Part of the plan for attaining world domination rests on the US controlling agriculture and hijacking food sovereignty and nations’ food security.

In his book ‘Seeds of Destruction’, William Engdahl traces how the oil-rich Rockefeller family translated its massive wealth into political clout and set out to capture agriculture in the US and then globally via the ‘green revolution’ [6]. Along with its big-dam, water-intensive infrastructure requirements, this form of agriculture made farmers dependent on corporate-controlled petroproducts and entrapped them and nations into dollar dependency and debt. GMOs represent more of the same due to the patenting and the increasing monopolization of seeds by a handful of mainly US companies, such as Monsanto, DuPont and Bayer.

In India, Monsanto has sucked millions from agriculture in recent years via royalties, and farmers have been compelled to spend beyond their means to purchase seeds and chemical inputs [7]. A combination of debt, economic liberalization and a shift to (GMO) cash crops (cotton) has caused hundreds of thousands of farmers to experience economic distress, while corporations have extracted huge profits [8]. Over 270,000 farmers in India have committed suicide since the mid to late nineties [9].

In South America, there are similar stories of farmers and indigenous peoples being forced from their lands and experiencing violent repression as GMOs and industrial-scale farming take hold [10]. It is similar in Africa, where Monsanto and The Gates Foundation are seeking to further transform small-scale farming into a corporate controlled model. They call it ‘investing’ in agriculture as if this were an act of benevolence.

Agriculture is the bedrock of many societies, yet it is being recast for the benefit of rich agritech, retail and food processing concerns. Small farms are under immense pressure and food security is being undermined, not least because the small farm produces most of the world’s food [11]. Whether through land grabs and takeovers, the production of (non-food) cash crops for export, greater chemical inputs or seed patenting and the eradication of seed sharing among farmers, profits are guaranteed for agritech corporations and institutional land investors.

The recasting of agriculture in the image of big agribusiness continues across the globe despite researchers saying that this chemical-intensive, high-energy consuming model means Britain only has 100 harvests left because of soil degradation [12]. In Punjab, the ‘green revolution’ model of industrial scale, corporate dominated agriculture has led to a crisis in terms of severe water shortages, increasing human cancers and falling productivity [13]. There is a global agrarian crisis. The increasingly dominant corporate-driven model is unsustainable.

More ecological forms of agriculture are being called for that, through intelligent crop management and decreased use of chemical inputs, would be able to not only feed the world but also work sustainably with the natural environment. Numerous official reports and scientific studies have suggested that such policies would be more appropriate, especially for poorer countries [14-16].

When on occasion the chemical-industrial model indicates that it does deliver better yields than more traditional methods (a generalization and often overstated [17]), even this is a misrepresentation. Better yields but only with massive chemical inputs from corporations and huge damage to health and the environment as well as ever more resource-driven conflicts to grab the oil that fuels this model. Like the erroneous belief that economic ‘growth’ (GDP) is stimulated just because there becomes greater levels of cash flows in an economy (and corporate profits are boosted), the notion of improved agricultural ‘productivity’ also stems from a set of narrowly defined criteria.

Continued...