The Shock Doctrine

Disaster Capitalism in Action: food crisis

Biotech Firms See Opportunity in Food Crisis

Andrew Pollack, International Herald Tribune, April 21, 2008

"Soaring food prices and global grain shortages are bringing new pressures on governments, food companies and consumers to relax their longstanding resistance to genetically engineered crops. In Japan and South Korea, some manufacturers for the first time have begun buying genetically engineered corn for use in soft drinks, snacks and other foods. Until now, to avoid consumer backlash, the companies have paid extra to buy conventionally grown corn. But with prices having tripled in two years, it has become too expensive to be so finicky....

"Opponents of biotechnology say they see not so much an opportunity as opportunism by its proponents to exploit the food crisis. 'Where politicians and technocrats have always wanted to push GMO's, they are jumping on this bandwagon and using this as an excuse,' said Helen Holder, who coordinates the campaign against biotech foods for Friends of the Earth Europe."

Making a Killing from Hunger

GRAIN staff, GRAIN, April 1, 2008

"Nothing that the policy makers say should obscure the fact that today’s food crisis is the outcome of both an incessant push towards a “Green Revolution” agricultural model since the 1950s and the trade liberalisation and structural adjustment policies imposed on poor countries by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund since the 1970s. These policy prescriptions were reinforced with the establishment of the World Trade Organisation in the mid-1990s and, more recently, through a barrage of bilateral free trade and investment agreements. Together with a series of other measures, they have led to the ruthless dismantling of tariffs and other tools that developing countries had created to protect local agricultural production.

These countries have been forced to open their markets and lands to global agribusiness, speculators and subsidised food exports from rich countries. In that process, fertile lands have been diverted away from serving local food markets to the production of global commodities or off-season and high-value crops for Western supermarkets. Today, roughly 70% of all so-called developing countries are net importers of food. And of the estimated 845 million hungry people in the world, 80% are small farmers. Add to this the re-engineering of credit and financial markets to create a massive debt industry, with no control on investors, and the depth of the problem becomes clear."

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