Monday, May 04, 2009

Swine flu or NAFTA flu

Interesting interview published on Democracy Now!

The video interview looks at the political choices behind the current pandemic threat with a focus on the livestock revolution:

The swine are not in the driver’s seat. They are not in a position to organize themselves into what are now cities of pigs that stretch around the world.

We really have to go back to the livestock revolution. Before World War II, poultry and pigs were basically farmed in backyard operations across this country. So we’re talking about poultry flocks of the size of seventy chickens. After the World War II, all those independent farming operations were—many of them were basically put under one roof and increasingly put under the control of particular corporations—Holly Farms, Tyson, Perdue. And the geography of the poultry and pork change. So, while previously pork and poultry were grown across the country, it was now grown, or they’re now raised within only a few southeastern states here in the United States. After the livestock revolution, poultry and pigs were now being grown and raised in much larger populations, so we go from seventy poultry now up to populations of 30,000 at a time. So we have cities of pigs and poultry.

That model was subsequently spread around the world. So, starting in the 1970s, the livestock revolution was brought to East Asia. You have the CP Group, which is now the fourth—world’s fourth-largest poultry company, in Thailand. That company subsequently brought the livestock revolution into China once China opened up its doors in 1980. So we have cities of poultry and pork developing around the world.

And this phenomenon goes hand in hand with the very structural adjustment programs that the IMF and the World Bank helped institute during this time. So if you’re a poor country, you’re having financial difficulties, in order to get some money to bail you out, you had to go to the International Monetary Fund for a loan. And in return, the IMF would make demands on you to change your economy in such a way that would allow you—will force you to open up your economy to outside corporations, including agricultural companies. And, of course, that would have a detrimental effect on domestic agriculture. So, small companies within poor countries could not out-compete large agribusinesses from the North that are subsidized by the industrial governments. So they’re not able to compete with them, so there’s—they either must contract their labor and land to the companies, foreign companies that are coming into their country, or they basically retire out of the business and sell their land to the large companies that are coming in. So, in other words, the spread of the cities of pork and poultry go hand in hand with this structural adjustment program.

And, of course, NAFTA is our local version of that...


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