Here’s some food politics.
Farmers fight back against free trade
By Walden Bello
The 20th century was a terrible blight on small farmers everywhere. In both wealthy capitalist economies and in socialist countries, farmers paid a heavy price for industrialization. In advanced capitalist countries like the United States, a deadly combination of economies of scale, capital-intensive technology and the market led to large corporations cornering agricultural production and processing. Small and medium farms were relegated to a marginal role in production and a minuscule portion of the work force.
The Soviet Union, meanwhile, took to heart Karl Marx’s snide remarks about the “idiocy of rural life” and, through state repression, transformed farmers into workers on collective farms. Expropriation of the peasants’ surplus production was meant not only to feed the cities but also to serve as the source of the so-called “primitive accumulation” of capital for industrialization.
Today, perhaps the greatest threat to small farmers is free trade. And the farmers are fighting back. They have helped, for instance, to stalemate the Doha round of negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This tug of war between farmers and free trade is nowhere more visible than in Asia. FULL ARTICLE