Time to get food system back: Farmers locked in pesticide treadmill bring no yield

Interview with Colin O’Neil, published on Russia Today RT, Oct 12, 2013.

Giant agro business chemical firms have taken the food system hostage with the industrial agricultural approach, Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for Center for Food Safety told RT. He argues that nature is pushing back this approach that has an overall negative effect on the economy.  The industrial agricultural approach, O’Neil argues would not solve food problems, but regionally adapted farming systems show promise. 

RT: You’ve been fighting against Monsanto for a long time – but they rebuff all accusations of GM food being in any way harmful, what’s there to suggest otherwise?

  • Colin O’Neil: There is a lot of evidence to suggest that there is a sincere harm and also inadequate studies been done.

RT: GM foods are the key to solving the world’s food problems as the population continues to grow…that’s a fair argument?

  • CO: There’re many reasons why generically insured foods are actually not the solution for increasing global food production and may actually be a deterrent.

RT: Aren’t you battling against economic sense here, where many people are struggling to pay bills and are looking for cheaper food?

  • CO: What these genetically engineered foods and crops do is lock farmers into having to exist on this pesticide treadmill where they not only have to buy costly seeds that keep increasing over years but also have to buy the synthetic pesticide fertilizers which also keep escalating in value and that means farmers have to pay more and that in turn trickles down to consumers.

RT: Why are governments appearing to be supportive of this GM food giant?

  • CO: We see an overwhelming influence in governments and that has to do with money. These are major chemical companies. Over 53 percent of seeds are owned by just a handful of these major agro business chemical companies. So they exert tremendous influence in politics and have millions upon millions of dollars to spend to insure that their products get sped through reviews and also to insure that consumers are not informed about what the products they are eating, so for instance, not labeling genetically engineered foods.

RT: Would traditional farming methods really work to meet the demands of today’s economies?

  • CO: Yes traditional farming methods and looking beyond to organic and even beyond organic methods of food production can and are feeding the world’s population. However when assaulted by increasing chemical warfare on fields and on agriculture, we actually see nature pushing back against the industrial model of agriculture. What we need to do is not resist nature but to embrace it, and embrace diversified and local regionally adapted farming systems that allow the hands and the power to be in the hands of these local communities and to be in the hands of consumers.

RT: The march will be the second such mass event – are these protests achieving anything? … //

… (full text).

Links:

Brazil govt backs natives on land demarcation, on Global Post, by AFP, October 4, 2013: Brazilian authorities on Friday sided with protesting natives and slammed as unconstitutional an amendment that would give lawmakers authority to approve and demarcate indigenous lands …;

Brazilian police stop Indians from storming congress, on Malay Mail online, Oct 3, 2013: Indigenous Indians from various parts of Brazil take part in a demonstration against proposed constitutional amendment PEC 215, which amends the rules for demarcation of indigenous lands …;

Brazil Agrobusiness Lobby Set to Appropriate Native Land and Timber, 8.31 min, uploaded by TheRealNews, Oct 13, 2013: Indigenous organizations protest in Brasilia, against the proposed Constitutional Reform PEC 215 to put the fate of Amazonian Forests in the hands of Congress; this motion was promoted by “Bancada Ruralista”, the Agribusiness’ lobby many years ago and it is being discussed now;

Brazil’s indigenous protest to defend ancestral lands, on Google.com, by AFP, April 16, 2013.

(see also: Welcome to our new blog: politics for the 99%).

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