As their growth slows in the wealthiest countries, multinational food companies like Nestlé and PepsiCo have been aggressively expanding their presence in developing nations, unleashing a marketing juggernaut that is upending traditional diets from Brazil to Ghana to India. A detailed expose of the politics and economics of junk food, by The New York Times.
Industrial farming, which gets all the attention (and most of the land), accounts for more than 80% of fossil fuel emissions and uses over 70% of the water supply in agriculture, actually produces only about 30% of the world’s food. It’s the diverse network of small-scale producers-the ‘Peasant Food Web’-that feeds 70% of the world.
As much as any book can, Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” changed the world, by describing it. An immediate best-seller, this classic book launched the modern environmental movement, which, in turn, led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a host of green laws. On the 55th year of its publication, a tribute.
From ABC News: This eagerly awaited TV-documentary is the result of a months-long investigation into the Adani Group, made in the context of a bitter clash between citizen-groups and the Australian government over the company’s giant coal mine in Queensland. It offers a revealing look into the company’s controversial business practices and their global consequences.
From The Guardian: Chemicals and agribusiness giant Bayer has approached the European Union to approve its $65bn takeover of Monsanto, eliminating direct competition between two of the biggest players in the industry. If approved, the merger would be an extremely risky consolidation of corporate power, and a serious threat to food supplies and farmers worldwide.
Colin Todhunter writes: At a time when India commemorates the end of British rule, it finds itself under siege from international capital. Its not only on course to become an even weaker and more hobbled state permanently beholden to US state-corporate interests, but it is heading towards environmental catastrophe much faster than many may think.
From IEEE Spectrum: At the beginning, engineers at RE<C, Google’s now defunct renewable energy initiative, had shared the attitude of many environmentalists: They felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, society could stave off catastrophic climate change. They now know that to be a false hope—but that doesn’t mean the planet is doomed.
Martin Lukacs writes in The Guardian: Capitalism thrives on people believing that being afflicted by the structural problems of an exploitative system –poverty, joblessness, poor health, lack of fulfillment –is a personal deficiency. Neoliberalism has taken this internalised self-blame and turbocharged it. So, you are now also responsible for bearing the burden of potential ecological collapse!
From Mining Review Africa: Environmental NGO Urgewald has revealed companies that are at the forefront to expand the world’s coal-fired power by 42.8%. The report identifies the 120 companies that are planning about 850 new coal plants in 62 countries–including Indian coal majors Adani, Tata, Lanco and Coal India, which are driving the biggest plants.
From Counterview/Global Witness: A just-released global report has revealed that the number of land and environment defenders killed in India has almost trebled, from 6 in 2015 to 16 in 2016, blaming it on “a disturbing trend” of increasing police brutality, indicating the Modi government’s determination “to stifle opposition to ‘development’ by any means necessary.”
Colin Todhunter writes in Countercurrents.org: A combination of debt, economic liberalisation, subsidised imports, rising input costs and a shift to cash crops (including GM-cotton) has caused massive financial distress to small farmers in India. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a trade deal now being negotiated by 16 countries across Asia-Pacific, could accelerate this process.
From Scroll.in: 60-year-old Anu Muhammad, the author of 30 books, has been getting repeated death threats for his role leading a seven-year campaign against plans to build a $1.5 billion coal-fired power plant in Rampal, southern Bangladesh, on a site teeming with waterways, mud flats and a host of threatened species from crocodiles to pythons.
As global capitalist economic growth accelerates planetary ecological collapse, Richard Smith argues that – impossible as it may seem at present – only the most radical solution -the overthrow of global capitalism, the construction of a mostly publicly-owned and mostly planned eco-socialist economy is the only alternative to the collapse of civilization and ecological suicide.
From Eartha Mag: The game of migrating farmers to GM seeds has a familiar marketing line: We cannot feed the millions without GMOs – the exact line they fed us in the 50s during the Green Revolution. With the government’s adamant attempts to introduce them without public consultation or scientific debate, Sandeep Anirudhan raises some basic questions.
A recent article by Tim Worstall on the Forbes website states that, in effect, India’s farmers should be allowed to go bust because that’s how economic development works. This response from Countercurrents.org traces the criminal role of neoliberal policies in undermining farmer’s independence and livelihoods to favour global agribusiness. The article has since gone viral.
Former Union Cabinet-Secretary T.S.R. Subramanian writes: The promises of higher yield and lower pesticide usage which induced many, including myself as the then Textile Secretary, to welcome Bt cotton have now been belied… The main advantage now trotted out in favour of GM mustard is increased yield—there’s sufficient evidence that this claim is a myth.
Best-selling author and historian Yuval Noah Harari writes: As we enter the post-industrial world, the masses are becoming redundant. Biotechnology and the rise of Artificial Intelligence may split humankind into a small class of ‘superhumans’ and a huge underclass of ‘useless’ people. Once the masses lose their economic and political power, inequality could spiral alarmingly.
From The Wire: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is currently assessing the likely adverse effects on competition of the proposed merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont. If it goes through, the merger will create the world’s biggest chemical and materials company. But there are a dozen reasons and more why it must be stopped.
From Quartz.com: The Luddites were the bands of English workers who destroyed machinery, especially in cotton mills, which they believed was threatening their jobs. As machine learning and robotics consume manufacturing and white-collar jobs alike, New York Times journalist Clive Thompson revisits the Luddite’s history to see what the 200-year-old workers’ rebellion can teach us.
From The Indian Express: Each time with the GM debate, agro-business and biotech industry puts huge pressure on the Indian government to destroy food culture and replace many old nutritious-rich foods with by patented toxic monocultures. By threatening India with the GM Mustard, corporations are destroying the centre of diversity of mustard for the world.