share experiences, comments, citations, constructive critism,
corrections and suggestions please
Are public taxes,
corporate subsidies and public airways all being used to make
Agribusiness: Sickness Amid Apparent Plenty
The drug based Industrial Medicine approach to suppressing distressing symptoms often ignores the systemic root causes of disease. As much as 80% of all disease is caused, at least in part, by nutritional deficiencies. These imbalances are direct consequence of tax-subsidized "Green Revolution" farming practices pioneered by the U.S. and the processed packaged food and fast-food industry it enabled. The "Green" in "Green Revolution" does not refer to being "environmentally sound", rather, to the amount of extra food that can be produced, for a time, by throwing petrochemically derived fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides at farmland and the radically increased use of petrochemically dependent mechanized farming. In the U.S. corn and soy are the most important Green Revolution crop, though other grains have seen increased outputs. This impacts your health and pocketbook in a variety of ways.
Essentially, the "Green Revolution" was the process of turning a farm into a factory. Traditional farms efficiently use and recycle everything they produce. Now, like many factories, farms are extravagant consumers of resources and produce massive amounts of pollution. They are massively inefficient and dirty. Factory farms also promote disease in several way along with environmental degradation. And we are paying for it--on many levels.
Hybridization, 10,000 years in development, has recently been taken to a new level-artificial genetic manipulation. THe thing to know about the gene conversation is that humans evolve slowly and many natural selection pressures that would improve our gene pool are no longer at work in our culturally buffered lives. Another thing to know is that genes are passed around in the microbial world like Napster swapped files on the web. And microbes, and insects and even plants all evolve much more quickly to environmental changes than do human chromosomes. Instead of relying on rapid evolutionary response we large and long-lived animals must depend on our cultural flexibility to handle rapid change . Unfortunately, cultural adaptability will be greatly lessened by the multiple intersecting changes of climate change, Peak Oil, population pressures, pollution, human centered species extinction.
Nowadays, genetically modified or "GM" foods, have genes inserted into the very productive-- but overly hybridized, and thus, fragile--seed stock, to confer an ability to resist higher levels of synthetic chemicals, i.e. herbicides and pesticides. Contrary to the initial assurances made by the Agribusiness industry, these seeds have escaped, and continue to escape, their inadequately secured "experimental" fields and have spread everywhere. The genie is out of the bottle and will have unintended consequences. These GM agribusinesses then have the unmitigated audacity to charge farmers top dollar for their virulent escaped seed stock that they allowed to contaminate other farmers fields. Even GM seeds agribusiness practices allowed to fall onto fields whose farmers wanted nothing to do with GM seeds. Instead of identifying the real perpetrators and victims, the justice department is another "bought off" participant in the "money talks" political landscape.
GM genes themselves have escaped the chromosomes of the experimental seed stock they were inserted originally into and have been incorporated by the surrounding weeds which now can resist ever higher amounts of "Roundup" herbicides. Insects, already resistant to pesticides by selection pressures, may be performing the same trans-genetic hop and skip trick, turning the tables back on us, modern day Pandora's, and accelerate their pesticide resistant evolution to new levels.
This process is analogous to the Agribusiness and Pharmaceutical Industry helping ruin the usefulness of entire classes of antibiotics by using billions of tons of antibiotics on livestock, especially cattle, pigs and poultry, for a minimal weight gain or prevention of pandemics in the crowded unhygienic, unnatural conditions. These animals are always functionally disturbed but often even have overt organic disease, have all been weakened by feeding them grain, which is an unnatural imbalanced food. They thus grow fat animals full of antibiotic resistant bacteria. USDA approved.
Some bacteria are now able to resist all known antibiotics. In a similar way to cattle, herds of people are being weakened and left vulnerable by excessive antibiotic use, either direct use or indirectly consumed through non-organic foods. Herds of people are eating unnatural processed foods, derived from sick animals being fed unnatural feeds, that leave these people fat and malnourished and vulnerable to multiple opportunistic infections. These weakened herds of people are then attacked by disease resistant viruses and bacteria as well as toxemia based chronic metabolic disorders.
Agribusiness is reenacting the plot line from Jurassic Park, by speed-evolving new microscopic germs, and allowing the newly emerged genetic material, designed to defeat our armamentarium of antimicrobial drugs, to spread everywhere.
A problem I have not seen discussed, is that these antibiotics, like the original antibiotic penicillin, are often based on natural chemical defenses produced by other microbes to survive. What kind of imbalances and accelerated evolution ripple effects are we propagating through the entire ecosystem as we produce a web of effects such as penicillin resistant bacteria able to resist the penicillin organism? What are we doing to the checks and balances in the age old chemical warfare between competing organisms? No one knows. The likelihood that it will be in our self-interest is low.
Our ecology is a chaotic and complex system and, like a butterfly wings causing a Tornado in Kansas, unpredictable, non-linear, small events can lead to catastrophic (for us anyway) changes over large areas. This is a kind of risk humans have little experience in imagining, much less in stopping. We do seem to have a knack for creating these kind of problems however.
All this risk and debility is based on an unsustainable agribusiness model. As we reach and pass Peak Oil we will be both sicker and unable to feed the extra billions of humans now on planet Earth. The twin factors of global knowledge of affluence and global desire for material plenty and the cultural obstacles to birth control exacerbate the problem.
We pay for this craziness in many ways. From farm subsidies aimed at producing empty calories (calories with few micro-nutrients) to subsidies for the petrochemical industry, from outright money to acting as military security for them. And we personally pay for it in terms of vanishing vistas and disease and premature death. In the short-term, a few people will get rich on this particular highway to hell.
What is our exit strategy? What is your exit strategy? This website provides an analysis and some answers. We will need more. Tell people about it. Support local foods grown in a way that minimizes resource usage. Grown in a way that recycles and processes pollution and leaves land, air and water cleaner. Eat vegetables and fruits grown without chemicals or GM seed stock (until real ethical controls and choices are in place).
Grains have been always been the caloric backbone of population dense agricultural societies. Linked to high density energy usage, our society plays brinkmanship with its survival. Previous societies that did not learn how to manage resources, grain, and energy usage collapsed. They had a failure of leadership e Vote with your choices and pocketbook.
The government does not subsidize vegetable production, and only a tiny fraction goes to fruit, and a bit more to meat production. If every one ate the amount of vegetables the government itself says Americans need, we could not meet the demand. Not even close. The lack of subsidies means vegetable cost more than their subsidized, and unhealthy competition: the corn/sugar fast food industry. The lions share of the pork giveaway goes to grain production (just as tobacco has historically been a big recipient of subsidies too).
The primary grain subsidized by your tax dollar is corn. One ridiculous use, based on bogus PR and bad science, is growing corn to turn into ethanol to replace gas. The problem is that it takes more gas to produce the ethanol than the ethanol replaces. Go figure. As Hitler taught them, if you are going to tell a Lie make it a Big one. There are other plants with a higher ethanol conversion rate that might make the idea viable--but not corn.
The other equally ridiculous, and far more health damaging use of corn, is the production of high fructose corn syrup. This has been the lynchpin in the sugary breakfast cereal and highly processed "cute foods" industry . Extruded and tortured under high temperature and high pressure into "cute shapes" like, corn flakes, O's, and sugary figurines with their own movie merchandising deals, these grains are damaged anti-nutrients.
When a researcher gave rats: 1) the breakfast cereal Total, 2) the box Total came in, and 3) the standard rat chow. On the day the last rat died eating Total the first rat died in the group just eating the box. None of the rat chow rats died. So as you walk along the rows of overpriced over processed junk breakfast foods in a boxes. Pick the box you like the best, just don't eat the stuff inside.
The sugar in these cereals and in soft drinks comes from subsidized corn. With no redeeming nutritional content these foods are making us sick and tired and very, very fat. This boxed and bottled additively sweet sickness is being exporting globally. China, where a fat person was almost unheard of 30 years ago, is getting sicker and fatter as it is getting golden arches and coca cola.
When people adopt our diet they develop lots of health problems. Our taxes, which subsidize corn and sugar, supports ever expanding global sickness. The sugar lobby has refused to cooperate with a WHO program to reduce obesity. They make money on everyone's fat and disease, just as the tobacco companies make money on your cancer causing addiction. In terms of numbers they put the traditional arms dealers to shame as merchants of death. By comparison they make terrorist attacks little crumbs at the gluttonous feast of death.
The soy industry may be an equally nasty story. Check out this soy link which gives you a number of articles raising concern about soy. The science is controversial. Some studies show health benefits of soy, others show serious problems, sometimes for the same chemical. The very ambivalent results suggest that in the search for the good the bad and the ugly, it seems to be a matter of where you look. The millions of dollars at stake is biasing the objectivity of the science as the soy industry makes sure you hear about the good and not the bad or ugly. In summary, I would recommend great caution before consuming more than a very small amount of soy or soy extracts and pass on the latest "fashion food" from the supposedly healthy soy industry. Fermented soy products , such as tempeh and natto, are far better choices. However, genetically modified soy is still being used by most manufacturers.
TV and Ads (Propaganda?) Directed at Kids
The "public airways" gives us the legal right to protect our children from insidious TV advertisements. The failure of years of lobbying to remove TV ads for sickening food show us that the "public airways" are controlled by the highest bidder, not the greatest good for the greatest number. What is more insidious then the cute and pervasive TV marketing persuading kids to consume health damaging products. No other developed country allows kind and amount of advertising directed at young children.
Taxes and Subsidies
Government policy subsidized the processed food industry in the face of incontrovertible negative impact on the publics health. More insidiously the combination of bad food, TV ads psychologically amplifying poor self-esteem and unhealthy addictive needs. A consumer mentality that the road to happiness runs through the middle of the mall and one's power of purchase comes together with chronic constant stress as our exported institutionalized "modern lifestyles". Ironically there is a pandemic of both obesity and malnutrition among caloric plenty.
Visit the Food Page for a more in-depth development of these Issues.