By Devinder Sharma
Ever since I was a child I have been drinking milk bought directly from a small dairy in my neighbourhood. When I moved to New Delhi, for some months I managed to get my direct supply of milk from a neighbourhood supplier. But soon, the buffalo-keeper moved out his animals under pressure from builders. This was almost two decades back, and since then I am left with little option but to buy processed milk.
However, there are millions in India who can afford to avoid intake of processed milk and I think they are the lucky ones. I wish I could still buy my daily requirement of milk from the small neighbourhood dairies that dot the outskirts of New Delhi, and elsewhere.
I was therefore shocked when I viewed the accompanying video on YouTube.
Police raiding an organic grocery shop in California.
This is certainly outrageous. But this is a grim pointer to where the next battles would be fought. It is not water, as many people believe, but food that will be putting nations at war. You can clearly see, if you want to, where it is coming from. Multinational food giants have been slowly but steadily gaining control over food. They know that absolute control over food is the road to absolute power.
The process of takeover of food simultaneously began on several fronts. It began with Green Revolution in the late 1960s, which was essentially to provide controlled technology to increase farm production in developing countries. This was followed with Structural Adjustment Programme that the World Bank/IMF pushed seeking policy changes through the 150-odd conditionality’s that came with every loan. To provide more teeth to the process, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) have been brought in.
Technology is now controlled through the instruments of Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), and unhindered grain trade is made possible by the unjust obligations that developing countries have been made to accept under the so-called free trade paradigm. To complete the control over the entire food chain, the third actor in the game — food retail — is now being moved across the national borders. G-20 is pushing for compliance, asking member countries to streamline the norms that facilitate the entry of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Multi-Brand Retail.
Internationally, the food trio — Monsanto/Syngenta as symbol of the technology providers; Cargill/ADM among the major food trading companies; and Wal-Mart and Tesco representing food retail — have formed an unholy alliance. They operate in unison, making the governments fall in line. Food laws are being changed everywhere across the globe to make it easy for the trio to operate. WTO is helping to push farmers out of agriculture thereby making it easier for these multinationals to march on. IPR laws are bringing the necessary changes in national laws in conformity with internationally designed parameters bringing private control over technology.
The process of takeover of food is now complete.
But there are still irritating impediment on the way to absolute control over food. Alert and conscious consumers are not giving up so easily, and they are gaining in strength. Even in the United States and Europe, more and more people are realising the dangers of processed foods, and silently moving away to organic foods. The annual market for organic foods is growing at a phenomenal 20 per cent. This has to be stopped. So the regulators are now working overtime to outlaw organic foods. The underlying objective is to limit your food choice. You will be left with no option but to buy what the food giants want you to buy. Hobson’s choice, isn’t it?
In the name of food safety, which is a misnomer, food laws are being changed. S 510 is one such law that the US is considering to bring in. One of the world’s most corrupt bodies — US FDA — is at work. It is working overtime to outlaw organic food. The prescription is simple: GM food is what you should be eating, organic food is bad for your health. That’s the best it can do. The police raid in an organic store in California therefore is just the beginning. You wait and watch. The day is not far when the police will enter your kitchen. In the name of Mendel in the Kitchen, Nina Fedoroff, presently science advisor to the Secretary of State, is working hard to police your kitchen.
There are some who realise the threat ahead. This is what someone wrote in the comments section of the YouTube:
“I go to my apt garbage bin and search out empty general mills cereal boxes and various gmo containers, wash them out and sterilize them and place my organic foodstuff inside because I don’t want to be dragged down to jail. I can’t afford a criminal record, to maintain my job.”
I don’t know what is happening to the United States. Whenever I see the Statue of Liberty I can’t miss the tears in her eyes. Only the Americans refuse to see it. As my film-maker friend Ajay Kanchan often says: America is the country where civil liberties have been mortgaged to the multinationals. People live in virtual tyranny. I am in complete agreement. I can only feel sorry for fellow Americans. But I can assure you the world outside is waiting to help you, to pull you out of the police rule. Come, let us join hands. Let us try to regain our control over what we eat.
And if you still believe, the police is acting right. Read this letter (from someone with the user name 12dogpal):
‘They did not ban the H1N1 virus infection at the factory pig farm in Mexico where the virus was released. The pork was still sold in the USA. They didn’t close the Wright County Egg farm for poisoning the food supply, they didn’t close Wal-Mart for passing out e.coli beef. They didn’t stop the drug co’s from putting out dangerous drugs, lets face it folks, your government is your worst enemy.’
As Jawaharlal Nehru had said during the days of the British Raj: Freedom is in peril, defend it with all your might. Start by saying no to S 510. Remember, regaining control over our food is the ultimate freedom.