The Industry of Hunger

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Vandana Shiva on Al Jazeera English explains how, as mega-chains venture into industrial farming, they have created an epidemic of hunger- and generated billions in profit.

New Delhi, India – In November 2011, when the UPA government announced that it had cleared the entry of big retail chains such as Walmart and Tesco into India through 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, it justified the decision saying that FDI in retail would boost food security and benefit farmers’ livelihoods.

But the assurance that FDI in retail would ease inflation did not resolve the political crisis the government was facing; it deepened it. Parliament was stalled for several days of the Winter Session, after which the government was forced to withdraw its decision.

The story of FDI in retail goes back to 2005, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an agriculture agreement with the US, along with the nuclear agreement. On the board of the US-India Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture, as it is called, sit Monsanto (the world’s leading producer of GM seeds), ConAgra (among the world’s biggest agribusinesses, along with Cargill) and Walmart (the world’s largest retail giant).

Protests had prevented Walmart’s entry into retail, but, in 2007, it did get a backdoor entry through a joint-venture with Bharti (their stores go by the names of Easyday and Best Price Modern Wholesale). No back-end infrastructure has been built so far, one of the other claims of the government about why we need retail giants.

Farmers’ suicides spike in India

The way the UPA government tried to ram through the decision on FDI in retail – without consulting the opposition parties, or even its allies – was clearly undemocratic. But the decision itself was also flawed. It illustrated a disconnect between an ideology based on market fundamentalism – which is the leaning of the present government – and the Indian reality of small farms and small retail…

Read the rest on Al Jazeera English

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  • 5by5

    There’s an entire epidemic of Indian farmers committing suicide by the tens of thousands that never gets reported here — all because of big agra-business. It’s horrific.

  • 5by5

    There’s an entire epidemic of Indian farmers committing suicide by the tens of thousands that never gets reported here — all because of big agra-business. It’s horrific.

    • Anarchy Pony

      Last I heard it was over 200,000.

  • D.D.B.

    Unbelievable!
    Monsanto? Cargil? Con Agra?
    Putting profits ahead of people?
    All they want is to help feed the world!
    Huge multi-national chemical companies should definitely be in control of the food supply!

  • D.D.B.

    Unbelievable!
    Monsanto? Cargil? Con Agra?
    Putting profits ahead of people?
    All they want is to help feed the world!
    Huge multi-national chemical companies should definitely be in control of the food supply!

    • Jin The Ninja

      absolutely and banks should certainly set commodity prices/engage in trading. those pesky 3rd worlders…

  • Allan hawley jacobs

    Some good points but not very well written. Repetitive and needs more structure. Hard to read. Needs to provide facts too. How is wal mart food less nutritious? After being processes, frozen? Etc. more of a strem of consciousness blog article. If better written it would get more coverage and have more clout

  • Allan hawley jacobs

    Some good points but not very well written. Repetitive and needs more structure. Hard to read. Needs to provide facts too. How is wal mart food less nutritious? After being processes, frozen? Etc. more of a strem of consciousness blog article. If better written it would get more coverage and have more clout

  • Jin (仁)

    “hard to read”  what? how?

    “needs more structure” i see subheadings, paragraphs and thesis points.

    “needs to provide facts too” i see many numbers, stats, figures, dates and citations of instances.

    “how is wal mart food less nutritious?” can you please specify the exact quotation in it’s entirety where Vandana says that.

    “after being processe(d), frozen etc?” self-explanatory.

    Do you know who Vandana Shiva is? The reason she doesn’t get airtime on major corporate networks is because she advocates for de centralised democratic societal structures in an eco-feminist context. Not a very ‘mainstream’ viewpoint.

    here are a few links:

    http://www.democracynow.org/2011/4/22/earth_day_special_vandana_shiva_and

    http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2011/4/20/vandana_mira_shiva_on_corporate_malpractice_in_india_and_the_devastating_impact_on_health

    http://www.democracynow.org/2007/9/14/vandana_shiva_decries_the_outsourcing_of

  • Jin (仁)

    absolutely and banks should certainly set commodity prices/engage in trading. those pesky 3rd worlders…

  • Anarchy Pony

    Last I heard it was over 200,000.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Last I heard it was over 200,000.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Last I heard it was over 200,000.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Last I heard it was over 200,000.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Last I heard it was over 200,000.

  • jigglyboobs

    As a proud member of the Human Extinction Movement, I support decisions like these, and their effects on the population at large.
    And I LOVE fracking!
    BIGGER-PICTURE DARWINISM, people!
    a suicidally destructive species who must remove itself from existence in order to protect other species from it’s own rampant carelessness and stupidity.
    if you think of the earth as an integrated organism, it’s the best possible outcome.
    and poetic.

  • jigglyboobs

    As a proud member of the Human Extinction Movement, I support decisions like these, and their effects on the population at large.
    And I LOVE fracking!
    BIGGER-PICTURE DARWINISM, people!
    a suicidally destructive species who must remove itself from existence in order to protect other species from it’s own rampant carelessness and stupidity.
    if you think of the earth as an integrated organism, it’s the best possible outcome.
    and poetic.

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