“Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.” – Henry Kissinger
When Kissinger made that statement in 1974, he was suggesting the US use food as a way of coercing developing nations into active population control policies. This tactic would only be successful on countries in some great calamity whether it is from financial, natural or man-made causes. Today, however, it appears that the entire globe is under a multifaceted attack on people’s access to food. Consider this, 10 mega-corporations control 90% of the food produced in the US and a majority of what is consumed around the world. The manufactured food industry also employed more than 1 billion people in 2013 or about 1 in 3 people employed globally and generates revenues of more than $1.1 billion a day. Then consider that ten other companies own more than 75 percent of all seeds planted on the earth right now. Imagine, 10 multi-national corporations essentially controlling three-quarters of all seeds being planted and those same 20 corporations are well represented at the negotiation table for the world changing TTP (Trans Pacific Partnership) and TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) Treaties being worked out. While some 700 corporate lawyers and lobbyists have complete access to this treaty as it is being developed, the people we Americans elected to represent us are nearly blocked out of any access to it and then silenced if they do see it.
One of the first international trade agreements negotiated outside the multilateral arena that incorporated seed privatization policies was the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the US, Canada and Mexico in 1994. The NAFTA agreement set a precedent for all US trade deals to follow, with the EU also following suit with its own similar trade agreements so they too, would not lose out in the Mexican market. NAFTA obliged Mexico to join UPOV (International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants). Not only did the agreement directly restrict seed saving in Mexico through UPOV, but it also undermined their agricultural industry through other mechanisms including the dumping of staple crops at below production costs to Mexico. The US subsidizes farmers for many overproduced stable crops which are then sold so cheaply that they undermine local agriculture, destroying farmers’ livelihoods and local peoples’ access to food. The dumping of US staple crops (corn, soy, wheat, cotton) and meat wiped an estimated 12.8 billion US dollars off the Mexican producers’ earnings during 1997-2005. In what is essentially a corporate giveaway of even greater magnitude then either NAFTA or CAFTA TTP and TTIP will give corporations nearly unlimited power over the world’s food supplies.
Mexico and the 11 other members of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and of course, the US) are now facing even more extreme attacks on their agricultural industry. TTP is being dubbed one of the most ambitious trade agreements in history, and also one of the most dangerous not least because of the secrecy surrounding the negotiations. Details of negotiations have come mostly through leaks. Some of the negotiation text from May 2014 called for all member states to adopt UPOV-91 (INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF NEW VARIETIES OF PLANTS) and the outright patenting of plants and animals. Many agreements also come with severe punishments for farmers who break the IP laws. It will also undermine local agriculture as seen with NAFTA, where harmonization (the procedure to simplify applications for new varieties of plants and heighten intellectual property protection) of trade policies will pit farmers from different regions against each other, forcing for example the Mexican coffee farmers to compete with Vietnamese coffee farmers. The existing communal ejido land (In Mexico, village lands communally held in the traditional Indian system of land tenure that combines communal ownership with individual use) is proposed to be under a fast-track system for privatization. TTP will also prohibit labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods, so countries with existing labeling laws such as Japan would have to reverse their policies. What we are seeing is the corporate takeover of the world’s food supply. Stop TPP, failure is not an option!
“From Asia to South America, the EU to the Caribbean, the corporate seed industry is using international trade agreements to criminalize farmers for saving seeds” Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji