Globalization and food "alterglobalization", two sides of the same coin

Globalization and food

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By Area of ​​Agroecology and Responsible Consumption of MAG

The development of organic agriculture and food as a market niche for consumers with high purchasing power, based on multinational food companies and incorporating the logic of the global market - competitiveness, productivity and productive scale to lower costs - is a false solution to the problems generated by the food globalization of industrial agriculture. You don't fight hunger or eliminate junk food, instead you need them to differentiate yourself.

The production and consumption of organic and / or healthy food may not question the commercial logic of industrial agriculture. Agroecology and responsible consumption is not a commercial niche for the first world economic elites. The global, inclusive and democratic market assumes and exploits the contradictions of this new demand. It generates ecological producers in search of solvent and supportive ecological consumer markets. The ecoyuppy “fiction” leads to the generalization of organic consumption through multinational food companies, which end up supplying inputs [1] and technology to organic producers on an ever-larger scale and distributing these products in global circuits.

This “progressive” and individualistic model of production and consumption ignores the dominant industrial model and accepts the coexistence with chemicals and transgenics and global distribution as a “normal” way of developing ecological consumption. He forgets the poverty and lack of access to food for the majority of the population, the disappearance of peasant and family agriculture, the cause of massive migrations from the countryside to the city and from poor countries to rich ones.

The deployment of productivity, competitiveness and production scale also occurs within organic production. The colonization of the world market by the production labeled as organic will end up being a mere substitution of chemical for biological treatments. Production certified as organic does not include sustainability criteria that should be included (origin of the raw material used, water consumption, culturally appropriate technologies, scale of production, channels and forms of marketing, distance from markets), but neither does social criteria, economic and cultural that have to do with the forms of exploitation of people and nature, with human rights, health and food security, with a safer life for all the people who inhabit the planet and not only for those who they can pay a higher price than the products of industrialized agriculture.

In this violent leveling of production conditions, the small ecological producers tend to disappear by the same mechanism as the conventional farmers of chemical agriculture.

The foods produced under these principles are not organic, even if they are certified organic. Its merit by not using chemicals is annulled because its production, distributed and consumed globally (consumption of fuels for transport, refrigeration, containers, packaging, etc. to mention only purely ecological elements), does not distinguish one iota from the food produced industrially except that they have not been made using chemical products.

Betting on organic farming only for those who can afford it, is insufficient and irrational. The generalization of organic food based on the large global distribution chains is a false solution managed by those who bet on "democratizing" healthy eating, forgetting the causes that have originated agriculture and industrial food.

The development of organic agriculture and food as a market niche for consumers with high purchasing power, based on the multinational food companies and incorporating the logic of the global market - competitiveness, productivity and productive scale to lower costs - is a false solution to the problems generated by the food globalization of industrial agriculture. This "solution" coexists with the problem, benefiting from its comparative advantage in market segments with high purchasing power and providing an alibi for globalizing governments, which appear to solve problems of food insecurity. You don't fight hunger or eliminate junk food - instead, you need them to differentiate yourself.

Coexistence with industrial food production and transgenics reduces the chances of areas free from genetic and chemical contamination. The social and environmental consequences of the production and distribution of these false "organic foods" facilitate their assimilation by globalized economic logic. Admitting the coexistence of transgenic crops with non-transgenic ones means accepting safe contamination and the transfer of genes resistant to antibiotics and pesticides [2] from transgenic seeds to other seeds, plants and living beings. Once contamination is accepted as inevitable, the “precautionary principle” is invoked to no avail and the regulations are limited to regulating such contamination through solutions that are part of the problem: 1) corrective measures that attempt to minimize contamination; 2) monitoring to verify failures, insufficient corrective measures and evolution of contamination; 3) suspension of authorizations if unacceptable or irreparable damage is proven; and 4) system of economic responsibility for proven damages.

The current dominant approach in the anti-GMO movement led by environmental NGOs and their partners, in favor of coexistence with transgenic crops and foods, is confirmed as insufficient to address food insecurity problems, for several reasons: 1) It is locked in the internal logic of transgenics and dedicated to responding promptly to each legalization, each regulation, each case of contamination, which prevents facing the problems of agriculture and food by seeking a strategic solution. 2) It points out the transgenic contamination on conventional agriculture, separating it from the chemical contamination of the latter on the environment and human health, the damage of which has been showing for 50 years, although it occurs as in transgenics, in the medium and long term and by accumulation . 3) The only argument for participation put forward against the imposition of transgenics is the "right to decide."

We cannot face the GMO problem separately from chemical agriculture. Much less, to seek the promotion of a respectful, responsible, ecological and agro-ecological agriculture, without facing the problems of an industrialized diet. In turn, reducing the debate on transgenics to "coexistence" will make us increasingly powerless to solve these problems and will also reduce the defense of our food security, present and future, to the provision of evidence of their risks and damage, one at a time. To avoid this impotence, it is necessary to show the limits of our current approaches, articulating, at the same time, strategies to promote agroecological and responsible agriculture and food outside the global market, which include awareness and the participation of people and groups to get involved in more than rejecting GMOs.

The turn of the environmental NGOs as of the summer of 2004, from a real opposition (Transgenics no. Moratorium) to a formal opposition (Transgenics no, no and no. But yes, by admitting the end of the moratorium and the coexistence of the transgenic foods with non-transgenic foods), is a necessary condition for the advancement of European policies to launch the agroecological sector as a new segment of the globalized market, with the prior deactivation of its anti-globalization potential.

Agroecology and Responsible Consumption Area of ​​MAG - Source: “Agroecology and Responsible Consumption. Theory and practice ”VVAA. Ed. Kehaceres. Madrid, 2006. Pages 102-106. You can find it in the CAES Associative Library. C / Atocha, 91 2º 28012-Madrid. (September 2006)


To see all the documents produced by the Area of ​​Agroecology and Responsible Consumption of the Movement against the Europe of Capital, Globalization and War during the III Spanish Presidency of the EU php? cat = 37

To see the current campaign during the IV Presidency…)


[1] They are all the means necessary for production (energy, machinery, tools, seeds, fertilizers, phytosanitary products, etc.) that are not on the farm itself and therefore must be bought on the market. Although in organic farming, in theory, one of its principles is to take advantage of the conditions offered by nature and another, linked to the previous one, to ensure that the farm itself improves its seeds, provides the necessary organic fertilizer and develops its biological treatments and thus saving costs (which is essential in rural ecological rationality), "modern" ecological agriculture resorts to the market to buy inputs and the only condition is that they do not use chemical products. In this sense, it perpetuates the same dependence on multinationals as industrial agriculture.

[2] The method used to insert the new genes into the recipient organism uses antibiotic and pesticide resistance genes to guarantee the success of the operation.

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