For World Food Day and Blog Action Day, allow me to share one of the concerns that keeps me up at night. Imagine you wanted to take over the world. What might you do? Well, you could do worse than, say, control the world’s food supply, right? But how might you go about that. Let’s see, first you’d want to make all farmers dependent on the food YOU sell, by, for instance, pairing a herbicide with a gene in your food that makes your food resistant to that herbicide. Cool. Sell the farmers both, the herbicide wipes out other species and leaves yours alive.
First, patent your food so nobody else can plant it or use it without paying you. Sue anyone who plants your seeds without paying you. In fact, sue farmers who end up with your plants in their fields by accident as well — and invite them to come around to buying your product in the future, so nobody’s knees get broken, right?
Now, if you want to thing big, think “What’s the biggest food crop and the biggest consumer market?” That’s it: China. Try to get in a position where you can own ALL the RICE in CHINA.
Next, you want to make sure that you’re not giving anything away. Build in a terminator gene to your food, so that only one crop a season can be planted. Make sure farmers can’t plant the seed that comes from your crop for free.
Now, once you’ve done that, YOU decide who you sell your crop to. YOU decide who starves and who gets fed. YOU decide what extortionist price you can put on your product, because there is no other food to be had.
This is a good plan. And if we don’t keep an eye on corporations like Monsanto, this is what the world will be like. Because it’s the natural path of any corporation to seek market domination. You don’t even need to buy into the argument that they’re evil or even ill-willed: they’re just greedy. That’s in their DNA — it’s the way corporations are meant to be in a market economy — that’s what they HAVE to be.
The trouble is, when it comes to food, that’s a really bad survival strategy for human beings. You want diversity, not monoculture. You want multiple suppliers and tough competition to keep food prices low. You don’t want patents on valuable foods, and you don’t want food crops to be so dominated by one species or product that natural disaster or supply manipulation could threaten mass starvation.
Lest we forget, control of the food supply is control of a nation. Let’s not weaponize food. Let’s not trust Monsanto, or any multinational, when they say they want to feed the world. Because “feed” in this case just means “own.”