The Coastal Post - September 2000

GM Food$ and Market Myth$

By Frank Scott

Among the rationales for corporate capital's genetically altered food marketing is an alleged solution to problems of global hunger. This argument concurs with the old population myth, the one that says there are too many people and not enough food and that "they" will use up all of "our" resources if we don't stop "them" from procreating. Both ideas are nonsense and would be laughable if they were not, tragically, accepted by so many good people.

The over-population argument originates with Malthus, the 19th century apologist for the twin moral obscenities of appalling destitution alongside disgraceful wealth. His theories about expanding populations of poor people and diminishing crops with which to feed them have long been discredited. You wouldn't know that to hear the present generation of corporate apologists for the coexistence of wretched riches alongside pathetic poverty.

The idea that there is a shortage of food is a comfort to societies which madly and blindly over-consume, while complaining about the poor folks who just cannot seem to get enough pizzas or condoms. The truth is that there is, and probably always has been, a sufficient food supply for the people alive at any given moment. The problem for those who go hungry is not a shortage of food, but a shortage of money with which to buy food in a cash or credit economy.

Some people eat too much, gain weight, suffer poor health and die young. Other people don't eat enough, lose weight, suffer poor health and die young. Both groups could be healthier and live longer if we would focus more attention on the political economics of societies, and less on nonsense about a shortage of food or an excess of people.

Especially damaging when combined with the old over-population myth is present corporate propaganda about increasing food supplies by producing an abundance of laboratory-created calories. This will only benefit capital in its marketing of food, based on buying and selling among those with money, and the hell with the rest. It will also threaten agriculture itself, with new and unknown outcomes of this tampering with nature that focuses on profit now, and research about outcomes later.

Crowded and hungry populations are mainly the result of a society's material development, and the status of its women. The two are closely related: developed societies have smaller families, reasonably adequate health care and birth control, and especially, emancipated women who will not allow their bodies to simply be treated as nature's maternity ward. Those societies have better fed populations, even though some of them have to import much of their food supply. If they need more food, they buy it. So much for a food shortage.

Nobody has an empty stomach because there is no food. People go hungry because they have empty wallets. Those with money go on diets, those without money go hungry. Should we cut the food supply to the overweight and unhealthy, who are forced to take drugs to fight the diseases brought on by too much food? Does that sound stupid? Under a system in which money equals food and most people haven't enough money, the idea that more food will feed more people is even more stupid.

It may be possible to create healthier food supplies that will better the lives of humanity, but that isn't likely under a system that works to the advantage of some only at the expense of many.

Commercials about feeding the hungry with new GM foods are worth as much belief as used car ads. At least the car dealers often humorously acknowledge their ridiculous claims. Corporate capital hires shills, like the cadaverous David Brinkley, to chant its market mantras in serious tones. They should be accompanied by laugh tracks .

Having recently turned its back on the television convention fiascoes, our public has shown its ability to disregard these multi-million dollar corporate facades for hysterical irrelevance masquerading as democracy . We would do well to be as critical of corporate food marketing, which is only different in that one pollutes our minds, while the other contaminates our bellies. Both are bad for our health, and equally dangerous to the planet and its reproductive systems, on which we depend for our future.

Parson Malthus offered his 19th century rationale for poverty and wealth by claiming they were acts of nature and could not be changed by society. Present fables about over-population and feeding the hungry by creating laboratory food products continue the mythological rationalizations of injustice and greed.

We need new systems of political and economic governance, with democratic control of resources that will benefit all, not just some. How many people there are and how much food they can buy are less important than how much power those people have over their society, their planet, and its resources.

No amount of genetically created, privately owned food products will help feed anyone who is hungry, in a world in which finance is controlled by a minority of corporate capitalists and their minions. This, while the majority live in debt, despair and hunger. That hunger is the result of problems with social justice, freedom and democracy, all of which are related, and none of which can be solved in a corporate laboratory.

Under the reign of corporate capital, we have material abundance combined with spiritual sterility, and a murderously wasteful society that scapegoats the poor and "other" people of the world. Myths about population and fables about food need to be countered by information that can help end the belief in such nonsense, and begin the formation of a democratic, peaceful and just society.

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