Saturday, May 26, 2012

trust in the $

"More than one in four Africans—close to 218 million people—is undernourished" the UN Development Progam declared in a recent report.

What's the answer?

According to  Obama and  the G-8 the solution is the private sector. Cargill, Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, and Yara; and junk-food behemoths Unilever, Kraft, Hershey’s, and Mars. $2 billion of the total $3 billion in pledged investments will come in the form of a single "world-class fertilizer production facility" planned by the Norwegian company Yara, the globe's largest nitrogen-fertilizer company.

 Corporations are accountable to their shareholders, They are obliged and bound by law to make a profit. They are not charities. To be recipients of this aid African governments had to agree to "refine policies in order to improve investment opportunities," an echo of the old IMF agreements that forced countries to open their food markets to foreign competition in order to qualify for loans.

Some of the major partners in this "alliance" are dubious and have proven track records of self-interest.

 Monsanto has aggressively marketed its premium-priced, patented Bt cotton seeds to small scale farmers, to the point where in swaths of the country, no other cotton seeds are available, according to a report from New York University Law School's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. Results have been disastrous: at least 17,775 farmers committed suicide between 2002 and 2009. There, Bt cotton crops generated  much lower yields than non-Bt cotton crops for smallholder farmers during years with drought. The use of Bt cottonseed, contrary to advertising, also failed to reduce pesticide usage for many farmers.  Moreover, high seed prices raised the farmers’ input costs, while sale prices remained low. In the state of Maharashtra, more than 2,500 farmers committed suicide each year between 2002 and 2009.

Two senior executives at Yara , have been recently charged  in relation to an ongoing corruption probe and has faced several police probes over the past two years in relation to its ventures or operations in Switzerland, Libya and India .

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