Thursday, November 24, 2011


Why is that Americans spend only a fraction of their income on buying commercial foods churned out by the processing industry where as in many developing countries more than 50% of the family income goes for expenditure on foods necessary for survival? The answer lies in the billions of dollars of subsidy showered by the American Government on big farms that produce major foods like beef, poultry, corn etc which in turn makes the processed food very cheap and easily affordable to the consumer. In contrast protective foods like fruits and vegetables cost a fortune discouraging average consumer from buying them regularly. No wonder Americans are becoming increasingly looking like aliens in this planet with huge bloated bodies due to obesity. Here is a take on this unfortunate trend in many rich countries which spend tax money on big farmers due to the tremendous lobbying power of the farm sector.  

"Butterball turkeys are only generically reminiscent of the turkeys that roamed the continent before our European forebears stumbled on our shores. Turkeys could never fly but now most of them can't walk either, as they are now bred to have such enormously productive breasts that they collapse under their own weight. Quantity over quality characterizes the industry, as it does so much of our food system. Turkeys, chickens, cattle and pork are farmed in factory conditions that produce 130 times more waste than those of us who eat them; the EPA reports that runoff from factory farming is the biggest source of pollution to our waterways. The meat produced from factory farming is also less nutritious and not always safe; the 29 million pounds of antibiotics fed to factory-farmed animals is creating resistant strains of bacteria. Most vegetables fare no differently. Pumped full of fertilizer and water to grow the crops fast, the average tomato is on a veggie version of steroids. The faster a plant is grown, the less optimal its nutrient level. The price of cheap is enormous. This big price of cheap is a paradox that is familiar to many, but in this season, the nested ironies are worth remembering: apples cost $.99 to $2.99 per pound, a price for which you can get an entire meal of burger, fries, and a soda at a fast food chain. Why is that? Because the burger, fries and soda have been pre-occupied with our tax dollars, starting with the subsidized water that it took to grow the alfalfa and the 17,000 pounds of subsidized corn to feed just one factory farmed cow, to the subsidized wheat in the bun, and the subsidized sugar in the soda".

The WTO negotiations on free trade are making no headway because of the continued refusal of rich countries to modify their farm subsidy regime which makes the agricultural commodities from the third world non-competitive in the world market. Tragically such distorted policies not only affect the poor countries, even the citizens as well as small farmers within these countries suffer due to unhealthy foods from the industry and most subsidies being cornered by the big farmers. Look at the enormous waste caused by the wrong technological practices and negative impact of agriculture and livestock on the world environment with global warming threatening the very existence of this planet. When will common sense dawn on these super rich countries that a food starved world is not an ideal place to live in peace? Sooner it happens better it will be for homo sapiens, giving a ray of hope regarding future!


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