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Crisis!
Crisis!
Food...
Money...
What next?
Manifesto
for a
fairer
future

NI 418 DECEMBER  2 0 0 8
UK  £ 3 . 2 5 I REL AND   €5.00
AUS TR AL I A  $8.50   (i nc GS T )
NEW  ZEAL AND/AOTEAROA   $7.50
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New Internationalist
DECEMBER Issue 418 Contents
Told ye so! There, I said it – but for those of us long sceptical wrenching debt crisis as they tried to pay off usurious loans from
of corporate power and the money machine, it’s hard to resist big international banks recycling petrodollars. With the current
the temptation. As stock markets tumble, banks plead for public ‘First World’ debt crisis, the shoe is on the other foot. Homes
bailout and predictions of a gloomy future cloud the neoliberal are being repossessed and job losses are starting to mount across
sky, we’re no longer prophets in the wilderness. And as usual, the the North. And who is responsible? Those same pesky financial
real losers will not be those ‘who can’t afford to fail’ but those for wheelerdealers.
whom failure has been preordained from birth. So far the North has not experienced the widespread hunger
This issue deals with the series of crises that have hit so and malnutrition that haunts a billion people – and counting –
hard this year. The first part concentrates on the hunger crisis in the South. But we are facing some pretty hard times. What
provoked by escalating food prices. This is followed by a special better point to start making the links of our common humanity,
section dealing with the debt and credit situation that has so that we can begin to control capital rather
plunged the world into the most serious economic downturn than the other way round.
since the ‘Dirty Thirties’. In both parts we take an initial stab at For, in the end, ‘told ye so’ will not build a
what alternatives based on a fairer future might look like, and fairer world.
how to seize this vital moment.
Over the years, the NI has spilt a lot of ink drawing out the
common strands of experience (and often exploitation) that link
people in the Global North to those in the Global South. But
reality is now providing much more graphic lessons. During Richard Swift for the
the 1980s almost every country in the South experienced a New Internationalist Co-operative
B O R I S H E G E R / R E P O R T D I G I TA L

Food crisis 14 Meat’s too expensive


Chris Brazier makes the
case for a green and fair diet.
4 Year of living dangerously
Richard Swift on the hard 16 FOOD CRISIS – THE FACTS
edge of hunger in a year of
perpetual crisis. 18 Peak soil
Action – a new diet for the world food system. David R Montgomery on the one
thing we can’t afford to run out of.
7 Profits in hungry times
Agribusiness and industrial farming: 10;
D O M I N I C B U G AT T O

20 Selling out the farm


farmers and the famished: nil.
I L L U S T R AT I O N :

Ray Burley is caught in the cost/price squeeze.


A report from the campaign group GRAIN.
21 Fusion time
10 Food last! A new way not only to cook but to organize the
Across the world, popular protest has whole food economy – Wayne Roberts stirs the pot.
demanded adequate food and fair prices.
Stephanie Boyd reports from Cuzco
in Peru.
Q I L A I S H E N / PA N O S

Regular Features
12 We care too... Ag-Inc advertorial 2 Letters
The NI gives big agribusiness its say. Giving motorists a bad press;
recycling shit; animal testing.
PLUS: Letter from Cairo – in the
damp, dark winter, Maria Golia finds
cold comfort in a pharmacy queue.
32 Southern Exposure

Financial crisis on specific areas and


propose practical action
for change.
Photographer Ernesto Fernandez
recalls the dawn of a new age as
Cuba celebrates the 50th anniversary
of its revolution.
23 The road to meltdown 33 Making Waves
More than just a boardgame,
How did we get here? 30 An historic opportunity according to its makers, Andy Sheerin
David Ransom takes a global 21 for transformation and Andy Tompkins, the War on
Terror challenges the terrorism taboo.
– and historical – look. Late-night meetings
between Asian 34 Mixed Media
Three outstanding films, including
25 Clean start – creating a fair and European the 5-star Baader Meinhof Complex;
global economy social movements haunting music from Armenia and
Greece; Mark Thomas belches out the
Out of the ashes of the crash, how produced the beginnings Coca-Cola devil while John le Carré’s
are we to create a fairer future? New of a manifesto for latest novel skewers the deserving.
Internationalist asks leading experts change – the 'Beijing 36 Big Bad World
from around the world to focus Declaration'. Polyp on female beauty and male
laughter.
Plus: NI Prize Crossword

Front cover and magazine design: Andrew Kokotka. All monetary values are expressed in US dollars unless otherwise noted.
Letters The New Internationalist welcomes your letters. But please keep them short. They may be
edited for purposes of space or clarity. Letters should be sent to letters@newint.org or to
your local NI office. Please remember to include a town and country for your address.
Letter from Cairo
The views expressed on the letters page are not necessarily those of the New Internationalist.

a rain-lashed day and you’ll see


what I mean.
doctor who had been living in this
impoverished Central American
Lingering trash
One thing is very clear from
example. Animal testing is merely
a rubber-stamping exercise for
Manners and the man
Queuing at the pharmacy becomes torture for Maria Golia.
Transporting oneself by country for several years. He had Drowning in plastic (NI 415) – the chemical industry to get
bicycle in most British towns been doing both clinical work and to make ephemeral consumer their products on the market. It
and cities is dangerous and in
the open countryside even more
also training Nicaraguans in the
field of medical practice. I was very
goods and packaging intended
only to be thrown away, out of
provides them with protection
from litigation, but gives us no C airo wasn’t made for winter, and despite its
overall decrepitude, looks better beneath a
blazing sun. Dark days reveal its weaknesses, the
or impatience, he simply set the merchandise on the
counter in front of the cashier, made eye-contact
with him/her, and turned to leave.
so. There needs to be a sea moved by this young man’s story. materials that last almost forever protection from their dangerous
shadows of dirt, neglect and want. The worst is At this point, I rallied and told the cashier to stop
change in attitudes towards pedal Here I was, only committing is completely crazy! chemicals.
when it rains, which isn’t often but comes in winter, shouting (though s/he already had) and tried to get
power before more people will myself to a mere two months of Susan Francis Malvern, England Joanne Moodie Southampton, England
sometimes in torrents, for which nothing and no-one the man to come back. I would pay for his things, I
be tempted to leave the car for coffee picking and a few other
is prepared. Pond-sized puddles fill the sewer-less told the cashier and by god would have whatever
shorter journeys, and this can only menial jobs requiring volunteers, Toxic disregard Useful shit streets. Rare is the roof that doesn’t leak and the change I had coming to me. How dare s/he treat a
be initiated by governments. while he was supporting for several Whilst ‘This Toxic Life’ (Keynote, Your edition on Toilets (NI 414)
taxi with working windshield wipers. I reprimanded customer, especially a decent working man, this way?
W K Pryde Newport-on-Tay, Scotland years his Latin brothers and sisters Drowning in plastic, NI 415) is was a good one, but one-sided.
a cabbie and received a justifiably dirty look. Who Everyone in the pharmacy was now giving me that
who were attempting to fight off informative and shocking, I was Largely missing was the vital
needs windshield wipers in the desert, lady? A man special look reserved for people who lose it in public.
No surprise the intrusions of a US-backed dismayed at the disregard for importance of retrieval and reuse
has to eat, doesn’t he? As for the rain, it carries the It’s part feigned apathy (since getting involved too
I was not surprised to see your military attempting to overthrow a animal experimentation issues. of human excrement. Every ounce
murk of a grubby atmosphere, splotching clothing soon might spoil the
article on ‘Death camps in Kosovo’ democratically elected government. The so-called ‘safety testing’ of living material removed from
with indelible grey marks show), part horror-
(Currents, NI 417) after reading Rev Freddie Miller Walcha, Australia of chemicals involves the an area of land, for animal or
and leaving a residual tinged mirth, part
Graham Hancock’s book Lords incarceration, force-feeding, human food (or for building or
grit where it touches rapid assessment,
Cars vs bikes of Poverty in which he exposes Nuclear clarity injecting, burning and poisoning fuel) results in a depletion of soil
the skin. as the tail end of this
Scots have long understood the extremely high salaries, Re: Joe Hanania’s letter in NI 416. to death of hundreds of millions nutrients which, if not replaced,
Whereas heat look is a flick-of-the-
that it was Kilpatrick Macmillan overgenerous perks, officials’ The United States did not test an of animals annually. An estimated will in time render the land barren.
makes Northern eye interaction with
who was father of the modern jet-setting lifestyles, incompetent atomic device in secret a ‘full year’ eight million additional animals Consider the observation on
types irritable, in the others who are
bicycle and not Ernest Michaux as bureaucracy and misuse of funds before the atomic strike against will be killed because of EU REACH page 35 that Dhaka’s 12.6 million
Cairo it’s the cold watching. How far,
claimed in ‘Pedal power’ (Special in the UN organization. Hiroshima. The ‘Trinity’ test was legislation, making this the biggest people produce about 3,200 tons
and damp that gets everyone is thinking,
Feature, Through Afghan eyes, Charles Healey Marlborough, England staged on 16 July 1945 and the animal testing programme ever. of solid waste sewage daily. In
on people’s nerves. I will this particular
NI 417). His invention dates to Hiroshima attack occurred on 6 In addition to the appalling the course of a year, this leads to
was at the pharmacy, nut go?
1839 and was made of wood, Cuban commitment August of that year. The test was cruelty involved, animal-based roughly the following amounts of
one of those high- In my broken
which is interesting considering Katherine Edyvane’s Essay on also of an entirely different type of toxicity testing cannot protect soil nutrients being taken from
ceilinged old ones yet elegiac Arabic
your piece on bamboo cycles. Cuban medical superpower (Tax device than that employed against us from the harmful effects of productive land in Bangladesh
with burnished wood I proceeded to tell
As a cyclist and motorist I Justice, NI 416) has touched me and dumped into the sea:
cabinets and flasks whoever was listening
really do feel that motorists get
a bad press and some of the
greatly. Several years ago, at age
59, I decided to join a Canadian
Animal testing is merely a rubber-stamping 10,512 tons nitrogen; 4,672 tons
phosphorus; 701 tons potassium; on the shelves, that I’d frequented
old, trite criticism comes out brigade of coffee harvesters in the exercise for the chemical industry... 3,504 tons calcium; 584 tons when I was drawn
into an excruciating
this pharmacy of
late because of its
in this article. The car is here highlands of Nicaragua during the magnesium; 584 tons sulphur;
altercation. The man beauty and old world
to stay and we all need to get time of the Contra attacks on a Hiroshima. The latter, though chemicals because animal tests 3,738 tons iron; 48 tons
in front of me at the graciousness. I see
real about that. The internal struggling Sandinista Government, less efficient than the Trinity/ are fundamentally flawed due manganese; 164 tons zinc; 117
cashier was clearly a now, I told them, that
combustion engine needs to while enduring a US boycott. Nagasaki device, was considered to species differences. Animal tons copper; 23 tons boron; 3.5
worker coming off a it was only the décor,
be ditched but please don’t The problem of getting from by Manhattan Project scientists experiments cannot predict tons molybdenum.

J OH N
night shift; he looked and that the people
knock the car and the motorist. A to B was never easy, due to the unlikely to fail and thus was not how a chemical will behave as Note that urine, also high in
tired, had no jacket. working here were too

SA R A H
It is simply not possible for us scarcity of petrol. Hitchhiking was tested before operational use. I feel it mixes with the soil, water, nutrients, is not considered here.
Over one arm he modern for manners
all to take to bicycles for all of therefore condoned and one was that global nuclear proliferation is plants, microbes and animals; Bringing in fertilizers to
carried a clean set of and kindness. I couldn’t
our journeys; and they do not rarely left standing too long on the an issue of particular seriousness let alone how it will affect human replace this loss is not a long-term

BY
clothes wrapped in recall the Arabic word
always get us ‘quickly from A side of the road. On one occasion and, where possible, steps should beings in generations to come. solution, even if the people can

I L LU ST R AT I ON
plastic; one hand held for ‘disappointed’
to B’, for it depends on how far I was picked up by a large open be taken to prevent inaccuracies By choosing the ‘right’ species, afford it. Only nitrogen-based
a 50-pound note and and ‘tortured’ came
B is from A and how hilly the truck with one lonely individual about the history of nuclear animal testers can provide fertilizer can be manufactured
the other his desired out instead. ‘I am very
land in between, to say nothing on the back leaning against weapons from entering the public ‘evidence’ that any substance without recourse to mining; all
purchases: two sachets tortured,’ I told them,
of the fitness of the cyclist. Try the cab. We quickly struck up a consciousness, as it adds confusion is safe – beagle experiments other nutrients must be mined, and
of shampoo, a packet of and I’ll be damned if I
pedalling across some of our conversation and I soon learned I to an already complex issue. were used to argue that smoking in many cases the deposits will be
moist towelettes and a plastic wasn’t crying. The cashier spluttered. The
hillier cities in heavy traffic on was chatting with a Cuban medical Zeb Leonard Ballarat, Australia does not cause lung cancer, for exhausted in a few centuries.
razor, totalling around 18 Egyptian pounds ($3.30). man paused for a moment at the door, not because
If we do not begin to focus
The cashier asked for change but he didn’t have any of me, but because of the rain. He put his plastic
much more seriously on returning
– no-one ever does, especially cashiers. bundle on his head and moved on.
all human excrement, and all
I’ve observed this particular cashier for some Following his example, I placed my unpurchased
other waste organic matter,
time. Wry, tough, middle-aged, thick bodied, merchandise on the counter and loped confusedly
to the soils from which they
close-cropped curling grey-black hair, efficient, out after him, thinking there must be something
originated, the eventual outcome
smart-seeming – and of remarkably indeterminate I could or should have done. He probably turned
will be malnutrition and outright
gender. I’m not sure why I assumed that s/he was somewhere because I lost him, but the look
starvation, regardless of a
an open and strong-minded individual, but I tend he gave the cashier as he handed back his
nation’s wealth, even if we were
to idealize Egyptians, and this time I was wrong. things stayed with me. I think it was humility;
not in the grip of global warming
The worker produced no change, just stood there a compliance born more of pity than rancour,
and an increasing population.
waiting for the situation to resolve itself, and the reflecting not weakness but clarity, a look so rare
Leon Holman Hedley, Canada
cashier started barking at him, mocking the paucity it nearly defies definition. But I tend to idealize
of his purchases and insisting he provide change, Egyptians and, again, I may be wrong.
Correction even though the 50 pounds in his hand probably
In our Tax Justice edition, the represented the whole of his fortune. The man took Maria Golia also writes for The Middle East, reviews for the
image on page four comes from the upbraiding, whether zen or exhausted or so Times Literary Supplement and is the author of the non-fiction
Monrovia, Liberia and not from accustomed to mistreatment that being gratuitously Cairo, City of Sand (Reaktion Books, 2004).
Freetown as we stated. insulted in public by someone who was meant to
serve him was no big deal. Without apparent anger

2    N e w I n t e r n a t i o n a l i s t    D E C E M B ER 2 0 0 8 www.newint.org www.newint.org N e w I n t e r n a t i o n a l i s t    D E C E M B ER 2 0 0 8    3
Food crisis    k eynote

Year of living dangerously


The global food crisis threatens to spread in the wake of economic chaos.
Suicide watch for a farmer in
India’s Maharashtra State: the
escalating food prices of 2008 have
done little to ease the distress of
the world’s small farmers.

Richard Swift sees both peril and promise in the future.


2008 – what a year! First the price of petroleum Ultimately, the sharp end of any kind of economic
doubled, then a global food crisis, now a complete crisis is hunger. That’s the way it was in the ‘Dirty
financial meltdown. People can be forgiven for Thirties’, and that may well be where we are heading
wondering ‘what next?’ The runaway cost of basic today. Still, for the better-off, hardship now amounts
foodstuffs hit hard earlier in the year. The Western just to cutting back on discretionary spending –
media played it as an unfortunate, but far away, tragedy. delaying a big purchase such as a car or vacation. Even
Most people in the industrial world barely noticed as the most vulnerable in the industrial North can fall back
the prices on the supermarket shelves edged up. But for on (admittedly poorly funded) government programmes
those in the Global South living on $2 or less a day – of income support. Real hardship is involved, but rarely
about one in three of us – it was catastrophic. Figures does it mean immediate life-threatening hunger. This
vary, but most estimates, including that of the Food is not the case in the slums of Monrovia or Managua,
and Agriculture Organization, hold that the runaway where a couple of cents on the market price means there
price spiral of basic foodstuffs (rice, grain, corn) pushed is no dinner.
another 100 million people into situations of life- Rural areas too are hit hard. In countries like
threatening malnutrition. This is on top of perhaps Bangladesh or Mozambique or Haiti, hard times and
900 million people already in this position. That’s a escalating food prices can lead to a life-threatening
billion people without the means to survive. How many situation almost immediately. Chronic malnutrition
actually died? Or are dying? No-one really knows. worsens. The body weight of newborns drops perilously;
The global financial crisis is a much bigger media mothers lack the capacity for proper breastfeeding. The
story. The nightly TV news, most of the main sections death rate of under-fives shoots up. This year’s food

/ PA N O S
of the newspapers, rumours and analysis whizzing crisis will result in eight million more stunted children
around the internet – it was as if people could think in India alone.
of little else. Everyone was worried. Some you could Whether in Central America or West Africa, the

GMB AKASH
sympathize with – pensioners worried about their pre-harvest ‘hungry season’ becomes a fearful, desperate
future, mortgage holders about their homes, workers time. The old die younger. So do the young. Vulnerability
about their jobs. It was rather more difficult to muster
up any sympathy for the bankers and politicians who
had presided over and benefited from this bubble
economy built on mystification and dubious credit. Yet,
to my knowledge, few people have as yet died as a result
Food – A Saner Way Here are a few guidelines for an alternative food future.
of this crisis. So why the difference in coverage? As the Food is a right Food sovereignty Eco-agriculture Farmer-centred agriculture Healthy diets
late Chicago folksinger Steve Goodman put it: ‘It ain’t Food must be treated like The global food system must be re- Agriculture needs to be significantly Driving farmers off the land is no way Fast-food restaurants, instant
hard to get along with somebody else’s trouble.’ other human rights. It geared so each country prioritizes de-industrialized. The current high-tech to produce food. In the South it is far meals, factory farms, junk food
can no longer be used as its own agricultural potential rather approach is squandering soil fertility better to have someone producing food – all have come to make up an
Two sides of the same coin a source of speculation than relying on trade controlled and a scarce water supply, turning what than eking out an existence in an urban industrial diet associated with a
But aren’t these crises two sides of the same coin? In for profit or as a political by global corporations. For many should be renewable resources into non- slum. The diseconomies of scale which number of dietary diseases. We
both cases the public world has become dependent on and economic weapon. In years Southern agriculture has renewable ones. We cannot replace the accompany large corporate farms are need to rethink this diet, place
private corporate interests to provide the essentials of emergency situations it been starved of resources, outreach building blocks of life with nitrogen neither economic nor ecological. It is meat – which gobbles up so much
life, and agriculture in the South has either collapsed should be made immediately services and appropriate research. fertilizers, toxic agro-chemicals and by now a commonplace that small-scale of the world’s grain supply – more
or been deformed on the promise that cheap food from available to those in peril. Its The World Bank has led the rest manipulated seeds for long. This approach intensive agriculture (long practised in at the periphery and be willing
the industrial North would feed all. In the credit crisis, distribution should be taken of the development funders in gobbles up a third of the world’s scarce places like Japan) makes more efficient to pay farmers to grow good
stagnating real incomes have been supplemented by a out of the market entirely if abandoning the farmer in the South fossil fuels, making it a major source of use of land and often produces higher organic produce. We need more
huge boom in personal credit, in the belief that the stock- the market cannot provide over the last two decades. While climate deterioration. Instead of following yields. A farmer working on a small- choice in our diets: monoculture
and real-estate markets could be the basis of economic it at a reasonable cost. Food international trade in (fair trade) the dictates of corporate high-tech, scale holding is much more likely to is endangering biodiversity by
security. Relying either on big agribusiness corporations is essential to life, and foodstuffs should continue, it must agricultural science needs to focus on have an intimate, caring knowledge reducing the varieties of fruit,
and global food traders or investment banks and real- productive food-growing take a backseat to a more self-reliant approaches which support small farmers, of their land than the poorly paid vegetables, grain and meat we eat
estate speculators is proving a very slippery slope indeed. land should not be devoted approach. More emphasis on local the soil and other resources on which agricultural workers of an absentee to a few standard varieties. Here
In both cases, short-sighted profit-seeking has outstripped to biofuels, extractive and regional markets will make agriculture depends. We cannot afford landlord. Optimal farm size will vary we can learn from the South, with
stable and sustainable development. The view that ‘you industries or urban sprawl domestic consumers less subject to the another ‘green revolution’ based on the depending on crops and ecosystem, but its wider range of edible goods,
can rely on us’ is proving as empty as an African rice bowl just because they make more manipulation of grain and rice prices centralization and privatization of the we can no longer afford the large-scale many of which are still taken from
or a vacated Las Vegas condo. money. on the Chicago Futures Exchange. very basis of life. monocultures of recent times. the wild.
4 N E W I N T E R N AT I O N A L I S T DECEMBER 2008 www.newint.org www.newint.org N E W I N T E R N AT I O N A L I S T DECEMBER 2008 5
Food crisis    k eynote Food crisis    A G R I B U S I N E S S

Profits
to disease rises dramatically. Every resource is geared infrastructure, technology and now seeds – the basis
to basic survival. Forget the future. Be it Indonesia or of high-tech farming. They have managed to convince
Brazil, children (particularly girls) get pulled out of governments and the international development
school by desperate parents who can no longer afford community that this ‘progressive’ high-tech approach
the fees, or who need the extra labour. Our vaunted is the only way forward. But, as this magazine spells
high-tech agriculture fails to provide for those who need out, they are following a path fraught with ecological

in hungry
it most. Further proof, if any were needed, that turning and economic pitfalls. And there is big money at stake:
the provision of food over to transnational agribusiness, these companies have made staggering profits out of
traders and speculators is a very bad idea indeed. the world food crisis. Small farmers, on the other hand,
barely get by.
Crisis and opportunity The second market is that of those who need to
The insecurity and hardship that accompanies these eat. This is controlled by a series of intermediaries –

times
crises is palpable. But where there is crisis there is processors (like Kraft Foods or Nestlé), wholesalers
also opportunity. In ordinary times it is more difficult (like Cargill or Tyson Foods) and retailers (Walmart,
to put forward a sane alternative to the dictates of Tesco or Carrefour). These companies make their
transnational business because it is delivering the goods, money by adding on to the low price paid to farmers.
even if in a partial and perverted fashion. But in a period They are now spreading from the industrial North into
like this, it is clear that ‘the emperor has no clothes’ and the South. They too have made out like bandits during
there is a void that needs filling. the world food crisis, posting record profits.
Our industrial food system is made up of two Despite the usual ‘there-is-no-alternative’
overlapping markets. One is the large, if shrinking, proclamations, there are saner ways to provide food
group of farmers (mostly in the South where a majority (see Food – a Saner Way pages 4/5). It is to the much-
of people still survive in this way). This market is abused small farmer we must look for a fair and
catered to by agrochemical and fertilizer giants such sustainable food economy. Otherwise the future will
as Monsanto, Syngenta AG and the Potash Company continue to be marred by corporate price blackmail
of Canada. They provide a range of agrochemicals, and junk food.

ACTION
The seeds of a movement to change the way we produce and consume
food are already in place. In almost every community one can find
farmers’ markets, fair trade shops, food co-operatives, direct buying
There is always money to be made out of human misery. The campaigning group

B O R I S H E G E R / R E P O R T D I G I TA L
schemes, organic food stores, urban gardens, poor people’s protest
and self-help organizations, farmers’ and peasants’ unions, and
GRAIN traces the corporate manipulation behind the global food crisis.
increasingly local food security organizations, sometimes embedded in
Farmers try to The current hunger crisis is forcing millions of the other West African rice-consuming countries have

B O R I S H E G E R / R E P O R T D I G I TA L
local government. Together they are reshaping the food system from
the bottom up. In addition there are also some important national scratch out a world’s most vulnerable people to the edge. The most also seen drastic decreases in domestic rice production
and international organizations which provide the analytic tools and living in Ethiopia’s recent headlines come from Ethiopia but it was Haiti following their adoption of structural adjustment
resources for the movement. Here are a few of the most useful. remote south earlier this year that provided a quick snapshot of the programmes. Côte d’Ivoire was a net exporter of rice
Wollo province dynamics of starvation. Runaway prices for basic staples in the 1970s, but following trade liberalization now
– no corporate like rice have driven its people to desperate measures. imports more than half the rice it consumes. The World
International Australia Canada United States saviours here. Some have even tried to stave off hunger by eating mud Bank’s heavy-handed advice to the Philippines was to
GRAIN – excellent analysis Seed Savers’ Network – maintaining Forbes Wild Foods – Jonathan Forbes The Food Security Learning Center of
of global food issues. seed biodiversity. puts biodiversity World Hunger Year – World Hunger Year patties mixed with oil and sugar. Others have turned back off from its targets for rice self-sufficiency because
www.grain.org www.seedsavers.net on the menu. (WHY) to protest. When commodity prices peaked earlier the world market would take care of its needs. But with
www.wildfoods.ca www.worldhungeryear.org this year, food riots broke out across the country. They the onset of this year’s food crisis, cheaper imports dried
Via Campesina Anti-GM Foods drew the world’s attention and even forced the Prime up, leaving the Government in a desperate situation – its
– international www.truefood.org.au/index2.html Stop Centre – combining The Community Food Security Coalition
organization of healthy food and social action. www.foodsecurity.org Minister to resign, but this has made little difference to domestic supply of subsidized rice was nearly exhausted,
small farmers and Britain www.thestop.org government policy. Several months later, the riots are but it was unable to afford to import because prices
peasants. www.viacampesina.org Practical Farm Ideas Food First – advocacy and analysis of starting again. demanded by foreign traders were out of reach.
www.farmideas.co.uk National Farmers’ Union – Canadian the international and US scene . Like so many other countries, Haiti was force-fed a
Pesticide Action Network farmer organization. www.nfu.ca www.foodfirst.org
diet of structural adjustment programmes that opened The costs of high-tech agriculture
www.pan-international.org
India it up to cheap, subsidized imports from richer countries. The ongoing food crisis has been compounded by the
The Honeybee Network – alternative In the early 1980s Haiti was self-sufficient in rice, way most rice is now farmed. In the 1960s, a ‘green
Corporate Watch – analysis of technologies to improve rural life. its main staple crop. But conditions on foreign loans, revolution’ model of rice production, based on large-
agribusiness and other food www.sristi.org/hb_magazine/index.html Rodale Institute – sustainable particularly a 1994 package from the International scale use of a few high-yielding varieties, pesticides
Focus on Trade E-newsletter corporations. agriculture around the world.
(food trade analysis) from the Center www.corporatewatch.org.uk New Zealand/Aotearoa www.newfarm.rodaleinstitute.org Monetary Fund (IMF), forced it to open its markets to and chemical fertilizers, was pushed around the world
for the Global South. Green Party – currently running a cheap, subsidized rice from the US and local production by international donors and research institutes. The
www.focusweb.org Soil Association ‘food revolution’ campaign. Center for Concern – Agribusiness was practically wiped out. Since 2007, rice prices have push continues today, especially in Africa, through
– organics and fertility. www.greens.org.nz/food Accountability Project risen by 50 per cent, and the average Haitian can no the Consultative Group on International Agricultural
World Food Programme – official UN www.soilassociation.org www.coc.org/cap
organization. The Safe Food Campaign – against
longer afford their basic foodstuff. Research (CGIAR) and Bill Gates’ Alliance for a
www.wfp.org/english pesticides and GM foods. Organic Consumers’ Association Honduras, another country that was nearly self- Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). As a result, most
www.safefood.org.nz www.organicconsumers.org sufficient in rice before World Bank intervention, now of the world’s rice production is now dependent on
imports over 80 per cent of its rice needs. Senegal and petroleum-based inputs – and their costs have spiked

6 N E W I N T E R N AT I O N A L I S T D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 8 www.newint.org www.newint.org N E W I N T E R N AT I O N A L I S T DECEMBER 2008 7


Food crisis    A G R I B U S I N E S S

ti l izer
fer

ou bleofits!
D e pr
alongside the rising costs of energy. programme’s $792 million budget to subsidizing the hungry, short-term fixes will not be enough. Now is the
The high cost of pesticides and fertilizers has robbed purchase of fertilizers, seeds and pesticides. Given time to break with the past and to mobilize around a
farmers of any benefits they might have seen from t h b le the radical investment and fiscal deregulation that new, creative vision. We need a profound change to pull

Doeu pr ice!
higher rice prices. It has also held back increases in accompany GOANA, many of the foreign-owned us out of this and the unending series of other crises
production. So, as urban consumers in Haiti protest companies supplying these products will profit from (climate change, environmental destruction, poverty,
against high prices, rice farmers in the department of
Artibonite, one of Haiti’s few remaining areas of rice th the scheme. Farmers’ groups in Mali are attacking their
Government’s response to the food crisis, called the Rice
conflicts over land and water, migration) that neoliberal
globalization has generated.
production, have taken to the streets to protest against Initiative, because it focuses on input subsidies. They What is needed is a real shift in power. The
the cost of fertilizer, which, they say, makes it impossible say that the initiative will put all the benefits into the policymakers, scientists and investors who have led
for them to continue farming. pockets of the fertilizer and seed dealers. us into the current mess cannot be relied upon to get
In July, GRAIN met farmers from the Red River us out of it. They have created a profound double
Delta of northern Vietnam. They say that the rising cost Corporate land grab vacuum: a policy void and a market sham. The
of fertilizers and pesticides has swallowed up the meagre But the corporate rush into rice goes well beyond policy void is palpable. Instead of generating
price increases they are getting for their harvests. seeds and fertilizers. Lured by the rise in global prices, bright ideas to build a more sustainable and
According to one leader of a co-operative in Thai Binh companies are quickly moving in to set up ‘vertically equitable food system, they only provide
province, rice farmers in this part of Vietnam now only integrated’ systems of rice production and trade, often knee-jerk responses that amount to
make about $6 per season. Mosaic and Potash hiked the price of potash fertilizer with the backing of governments. more of the same. More trade
IMF-enforced trade policies combined with ‘green by 40 per cent for Southeast Asian buyers and by 85 per In West Africa, for example, the Dubai-based liberalization. More fertilizers.
revolution’ agricultural practices have set the stage for cent for those from Latin America. India was forced to Stallion Group has started a regional rice farming More genetically modified
agribusiness to reap immense profits, especially in times pay 130 per cent more than last year; China 227 per project valued at about $1.2 billion, in conjunction with organisms and hybrid
of crisis. Both the traders – with their near-monopoly cent more. Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources. seeds. And more
of the global trade in agricultural commodities – and Speculators are also cashing in on the food crisis The company plans to reach annual rice production of debt to make it
the handful of companies that control the global and they are often blamed for the sharp increases in 2.25 million tonnes in Nigeria and 500,000 tonnes in all possible.
fertilizer, seed and pesticide markets are now effectively the global price of rice and other commodities. At Ghana, and will also be investing in farm machinery, Rewriting
in a position to hold the world to ransom. While the Thailand’s Agricultural Futures Exchange, the average milling capacity and a 700,000-tonnes-per-year the rules of the
UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) number of contracts being traded each day has trebled fertilizer plant. finance system or
estimates that 50 million more people are now going in one year, thanks to speculation on rice, and hedge Two of Asia’s biggest food corporations, Sime Darby clamping down on
hungry because of the rise in food prices this year, big funds and other speculators now represent up to half of of Malaysia and Charoen Pokphand of Thailand, are speculators remain
agribusiness is making spectacular profits. the daily contracts being traded. Such speculation has moving into rice production under the banner of their taboo topics. Even
helped send the price of rice soaring, yet few rice farmers home country’s response to the global food crisis. They the food self-sufficiency
A bloody killing are seeing any benefits. Thai farmers say that whereas are starting their programmes with the production policies being adopted in
At the height of the food crisis, Cargill, the world’s last year they were getting $308 per tonne of rice and commercialization of their own hybrid seeds and some developing countries
largest grain trader, was making $471,000 in profit delivered to the mills, this year they were receiving just the implementation
What is needed is a real shift in power. The policymakers,
every hour from its grain trading operations. Its
fertilizer subsidiary, Mosaic, more than doubled its
$296, despite the fact that the price of rice to consumers
had trebled.
of large-scale
contract production
scientists and investors who have led us into the current mess S peci a l
Price
profits last year. Canada’s Potash Corp, the world’s schemes. Similarly,
largest potash producer, made more than $1 billion In the name of the corporations the San Miguel cannot be relied upon to get us out of it
profit in 2007, an increase of 70 per cent on the previous Despite much high-level talk about the food crisis, Corporation, the
year. And Bunge, another top global grain trader and including a ministerial summit organized by the Food largest food corporation in the Philippines, and the (in themselves a very good idea) are often
fertilizer company, announced profits in excess of $1
billion for the first and second financial quarters of
and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN to deal
specifically with the matter, nothing concrete has been
Singapore-based Kuok Group, the world’s largest palm
oil conglomerate, have announced joint plans for a $1
just repeats of failed ‘green revolution’
strategies. P r ic e
2008, a growth rate of 471 per cent. done. Instead, the current situation is being seized upon billion food production project. It has the support of the The only credible way forward is to t r e ble d
With governments panicking about food supplies and
desperate to boost their harvests,
as an opportunity to advance corporate control.
Most national programmes in developing countries
Government and the military and will involve a million
hectares of public land in the Philippines.
rebuild from the bottom up. The power
structure must be inverted. Small
tod ay
corporations such as these that have sprung up to deal with the food crisis amount Several cash-rich governments, like China and farmers, still responsible for most of the
can essentially charge agribusiness to little more than subsidy schemes for seed and Saudi Arabia, concerned about their long-term food food produced, should be the ones setting
whatever they want. In fertilizer companies. The Philippine Government’s

$471,000
security, are working with their business sectors and agricultural policy, not the World Trade Organization,
April 2008, the joint central response to the food crisis has been a $1 newly created investment vehicles to outsource rice the IMF, the World Bank or government bureaucracies.
offshore trading arm for billion rice self-sufficiency programme that will production to other countries. The Government of Laos Peasant organizations and their allies have clear, viable
profit/hour dedicate a substantial part of the funds to the
production and distribution to farmers of subsidized
is considering a proposal from a Chinese company for a
land concession which would cover 600,000 hectares of
ideas about how to organize production and services and
how to run markets and even regional and international
hybrid seeds. But the farmers cannot save seeds from prime irrigated rice land. Chinese companies also have trade. Labour unions and the urban poor also have a key
rice hybrids and will therefore be forced to purchase a number of rice ventures in Africa, from Mozambique role to play in defining food policy.
seeds from the company every year. One of the companies to Cameroon. Kuwait has leased rice fields in Cambodia Those of us outside governments and the corporate
supplying seeds for the programme is SL Agritech, a for export production and is negotiating similar deals sector need to come together as never before. We must
Filipino firm with connections to a Chinese company that with Laos and Burma, while the United Arab Emirates build new solidarities and fronts of action both to
has already cornered much of the hybrid rice seed market. is leading negotiations between its companies and address the immediate problems of the food crisis and
Monsanto from the US and Bayer from Germany are also Pakistan for 600,000 hectares of rice and wheat land. to define long-term solutions. If we don’t work together
involved. Farmers’ groups and NGOs are alarmed that Bahrain too says it has signed long-term rice production to facilitate a power shift that puts the needs of the rural
the programme will merely amount to subsidizing big and supply deals with Thailand and the Philippines. and urban poor first, all we can expect is more ‘business
seed companies – and that it will entrench the Philippines as usual’.
among the world’s biggest rice importers. Shut down the system
Senegal’s response to the crisis, dubbed the Big How then to solve the global food crisis? With GRAIN is a small international NGO which promotes the sustainable
Agricultural Offensive for Food and Abundance governments and agribusiness working together in management and use of agricultural biodiversity based on people’s control
(GOANA), will dedicate over two-thirds of the profit-making schemes which ignore the plight of the over genetic resources and local knowledge. www.grain.org

8
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Food crisis    P R O T E S T

Food last!
is becoming immersed in a virtual war over food. at an alarming rate to make way for biofuel production.
Puma Laura Nemeso, a farmer from Cuzco’s Between August 2007 and August 2008 around
Paucartambo region, travelled for three hours by bus to 8,200 square kilometres of Brazilian jungle was razed,
attend the APEC protest. He says that although food representing an increase of 64 per cent in the rate of
prices are continually going up, peasant farmers aren’t deforestation.
receiving any more money for their crops. The young While critics have succeeded in pointing out the
farmer smiled with pride as he told me that Peru is villains in Latin America’s food wars, solutions have
the birthplace of the potato, and home to more than a remained elusive. Programmes to support small farmers
thousand indigenous varieties. But the price of potatoes and open up new markets, for example, are glaringly
is so low – 11.5 kilograms sell for 2 soles, or 75 US cents absent from most government agendas.
– that Puma Laura’s entire crop for this year is worth
only 100 soles (less than $40). Plans? What plans?
Javier Kapsoli, President of the APEC meeting in
Brave new world Cuzco, told us not to worry about the global food crisis,
In their luxurious hotel accommodation beyond the maintaining that Peru’s Government is developing
police barricades, APEC delegates heralded recent several proposals to address the issue.
free trade agreements between Peru and the US and ‘Could you give us some examples?’ interrupted a
Hungry Peruvians are taking Canada as the beginning of a brave new world. Out pushy foreign reporter.
on the streets, however, protesters like agronomist He looked at me in confusion.
to the streets while the Hector Chipana pointed out that the agreements expose ‘Yes, some concrete plans,’ shouted out an eager local

both photos : M ig u el A rao z C artagena


Peruvian farmers to massive dumping of subsidized reporter. The 20-odd journalists in the room snapped to
Government and foreign farm goods. The US Farm Bureau Federation estimates attention: finally a topic that didn’t require knowledge of
that free trade will boost US farm exports to Peru by global interest rate fluctuations and bond market prices.
corporations feast on the spoils more than $700 million a year. We held our breath as Javier shuffled his papers and
Chipana is President of Cuzco’s Agrarian Federation, squirmed uncomfortably.
from the country’s natural which provides technical support to farmers. He says ‘The truth is, there aren’t many new proposals,’ he
cheap US food imports would worsen – rather than admitted. ‘We talked about the usual solutions used
resources. Stephanie Boyd alleviate – the food crisis by putting local farmers out in the West, such as subsidies and support for the less-
of business and making Peru reliant on food imports. fortunate sectors.’
reports from Cuzco. Instead of courting foreign governments, Chipana Not one to admit defeat, however, Javier quickly
believes Peru should provide credit and support for its launched into a glowing report on Peru’s economy. In
own farmers in order to stimulate the local market. 2007 Peru’s economy grew 8.3 per cent – the country’s
Human rights groups caution that 97 additional largest increase in 13 years. This is credited mainly to
With cries of ‘Down with the cost of living!’, thousands today’s enlightened world, transnational corporations Indigenous laws have been drafted to support Peru’s free trade the growth in investment, which rose by 25.5 per cent
of angry marchers filed past crowds of startled tourists have exchanged the bible for the doctrine of neoliberal protestors rally agreements and that these pose a direct threat to the (most of it mining). In fact, a glance at the APEC press
in Cuzco’s main square. Over 500 years ago the last development, and bloody conquest for free trade against APEC country’s marginalized groups. The Government’s kit made it seem as though Peru was doing as well as
Inca ruler, Tupac Amaru, was decapitated in this plaza agreements. They say they are ‘helping’ the ‘poor natives’ and high food actions are part of an aggressive, covert policy to convert Canada. Of course, the authors forgot to mention that
by Spanish conquerors, and 200 years later his great- to develop and modernize. prices in the arable land and nature reserves into concessions for oil, little glitch of income distribution: the economy may be
grandson was executed in the same square for leading ancient Peruvian mining and gas. According to Peruvian Government ‘booming’, but 40 per cent of the country’s population
an indigenous uprising. Now their descendants are Daily bread capital of Cuzco. statistics, there are 589 mining operations already in can barely afford to eat.
rebelling against a new form of colonialism. Their enemy But after nearly 20 years of neoliberal reforms, an production, which together have been granted more Instead of addressing the root causes of the
– the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) has increasing number of citizens in Peru –and indeed than 10 per cent of the country’s land area. The thirst food crisis, the Government’s response has been to
chosen Cuzco for its annual meeting. throughout the region – have seen little by way for precious metals and energy threatens one of our criminalize social protest and repress the poor. Amidst
The nationwide strike – one of a dozen held during of results. A recent study by the Inter-American most basic needs: the cultivation of food. the wave of strikes and protests, Garcia enacted a law
the past year – was called by Peru’s largest labour Development Bank found that food inflation is Even biofuels, the allowing him to turn the military
organization, the General Workers’ Union. Strike skyrocketing throughout Latin America. And as celebrated new ‘green’ From tortilla marches in Mexico, to violent loose against the civilian population
leaders blame rising food prices on the Peruvian usual it is the poor who are hit hardest. The study energy alternative, are food riots in Haiti, to a farmers’ strike should there be ‘suspicion or danger’
Government’s neoliberal economic model, and on found that in Peru, food price inflation stands at 12 having a negative effect of violence or terrorism. Previously,
recent free trade agreements with the US and Canada. per cent, the food share of the Peruvian consumer on the food situation. in Argentina, Latin America is becoming the military was only allowed to
They accuse the Government of providing a banquet of price index is ‘one of the highest in the world’ Biofuels use the intervene during a state of emergency.
opportunities for foreign corporations at the expense of according to the country’s Central Bank. Citizens energy from organic immersed in a virtual war over food In effect, the Government has
its own citizens, many of whom can’t afford a basic meal. living below the poverty line now spend 60 per cent crops like sugar cane and corn to produce ethanol, an declared open season on civil protest. Four protesters
Peasant farmers joined forces with urban merchants, of their income on their daily bread. alternative to fossil-based fuels. But international aid died during a nationwide strike against rising food
labourers, students, teachers and other professionals, Natalia Vargas, a young woman who joined the agencies like Oxfam say biofuels are contributing to the prices in February. Witnesses said that two of them
but onlookers were most intrigued by a thin young man, march in Cuzco, supports her four children by Puma Laura world’s soaring food prices by taking arable land away were shot by police officers, but the Government denied
dressed as Uncle Sam, riding a fat white horse. ‘He’s selling vegetables in the city’s San Pedro market. She Nemeso from food production. Bolivia’s President Evo Morales responsibility and instead enacted a law giving police
President Bush riding Peru’s “Crazy Horse” (a popular says prices have nearly doubled in the past month but complains that made a dramatic speech in April to the UN, stating that officers impunity to shoot protesters. While Peru’s poor
nickname for Peruvian President Alan Garcia),’ the man salaries have remained the same, so people aren’t buying the price he gets supporters of biofuels were putting luxury cars ahead are fighting for their daily bread in the streets, Alan
guiding the horse explained. as much food. ‘The money that we earn isn’t enough,’ for his potatoes of human lives. But not surprisingly, Brazil’s President Garcia, whose party was founded on socialist principles,
Like the Spanish conquerors of old, APEC’s she says. ‘We have to sell our vegetables almost at cost barely allows for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has championed the biofuel has sold his leftist roots to corporate interests. The pay-
powerhouse nations such as the US, Canada and and there’s hardly anything left over.’ And Peru is not survival. cause – his country is the world’s largest producer of off is clearly visible in Crazy Horse’s expanding waist-
Australia want easy access to Peru’s gold, silver and alone. From tortilla marches in Mexico to protest the ethanol made from sugar cane, and he claims that the line and extra chins.
other natural resources. The Spanish used religious high cost of corn, to violent food riots in Haiti, which industry provides a profitable energy crop for developing
doctrine to justify their exploitation: indigenous is dependent on food imports, to a farmers’ strike in nations. Critics, on the other hand, say Brazil’s Amazon Stephanie Boyd is a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker who
people needed the saving grace of Christianity. But in Argentina against taxes on farm exports, Latin America (which absorbs large amounts of carbon) is being cleared has been living and working in Peru for the past 11 years.

10    N ew I nternationalist   D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 8 N ew I nternationalist   D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 8    11
‘A D V E R T O R I A L’ ‘A D V E R T O R I A L’

We
Care
Too...
A Modest Proposal from Ag-Inc
In the interests of fairness we can no longer keep
silent. Hence this advertorial, to put us on the
record. Corporations like us here at Ag-Inc have
been unfairly blamed for being unfeeling in the

I L L U S T R AT I O N : D O M I N I C B U G AT T O
face of world hunger and escalating food prices.
Our leftist critics have got it exactly the wrong
way round. We are not the problem, we are the
answer! Here are a few of the principles on which
we can base a realistic solution to world hunger.

Better living through chemistry Science will find a way No way forward we can’t provide what these niche markets want – you
want fair trade, we’ll give ye fair trade. But to deliver
When the Green Revolution happened in the 1970s The eco-critics would have it that depending on fossil but the market food in the quantity needed to feed the hungry, we
there was much scepticism. But yields increased fuels to grow food is not sustainable, using up soil and There is a lot of alarm today about escalating food just can’t be so picky. There is no alternative to
dramatically and countries like India escaped water is not sustainable, transporting food around the prices. There has been unfair finger-pointing at the industrial methods for producing large quantities of
widespread hunger for the first time. Small, inefficient world is not sustainable. But Ag-Inc knows its history – futures market in food commodities. OK, so it has food. After all, if our food is so unhealthy, how come
farmers gave way to fewer, more efficient farmers scientific research and development is the only way to jumped from $5 to $175 billion a year in the last life expectancy is the longest in human history?
who could afford the chemicals and irrigation our deal with such problems. The genetic engineering of seven years. But what we are seeing is a period
Green Revolution package demanded. Sure, the
revolution ran out of steam eventually, but that simply
plants and seeds will allow us to cut down on agro-
chemicals, biofuels will reduce dependency on fossil
of market adjustment to shake out inefficiencies – Population control,
means we must invest in new waves of technology, fuels. Who knows, some day Ag-Inc may be able to
higher prices today will result in more crops in the
field tomorrow. Small, inefficient farmers simply need
not price control
fertilizers and pesticides. provide you with all the nourishment you need in a Companies like Ag-Inc are unfairly blamed because
to find other ways of making a livelihood. Any attempt
little blue pill. to tinker with the market will be counterproductive poor people don’t get enough to eat. Our critics then
Get big or get out in the end. If there is a market for growing palm, soy propose various schemes to regulate, control, find
The peasant smallholder, the family farm, the corner Trade, trade, trade and grain as biofuels, then so be it. Land must be alternatives to, even nationalize big agribusiness.
food store, the little market stall, the organic this allotted for that purpose. The only hope for the poor But is this fair? We can only respond when there
The way forward in the food economy is to have an
or that – it’s all history. Nostalgia for the small is a is to bring them into the market, maybe at first as are profitable investment opportunities to take.
international regime of ‘comparative advantage’. A
roadblock in the way of progress – a throwback to micro-traders or casual labour. Survival depends on Otherwise those who hold Ag-Inc stock would simply
rational division of food production allows the most
another era. We have developed an efficient food the ability to participate in the market. put their money elsewhere. Isn’t the problem really
efficient producers in a particular place to do what
system based on bigger is better: you can depend on that there are just too damn many of these poor
they do best: US (grains and meat), Brazil (soy),
people? Some firm family planning measures are the
Cargill and ADM for your wheat and soy; Walmart and Thailand and Vietnam (rice), France (wine and dairy Quantity not quality way to address the global food shortage. Try as we
Tesco will provide the groceries, McDonald’s and Pizza products), New Zealand (lamb). Worries about food There is a growing dissatisfaction with the quality of might, we just can’t find a way to make a decent profit
Hut, the fast cheap meals. Whether you are in Caracas dependency are overblown and currently fashionable industrial food. But at a time when some 2.6 billion from all these poor people.
or Manila, your chicken and pork chops are likely to notions of ‘food sovereignty’ are simply a pipedream. people around the world lack adequate food, this

Ag-Inc
come from Tyson Foods. And of course the Ag-Inc If you think food price inflation is bad now, wait until is all a bit precious. Those movements for organic,
team will continue to be a major player. Big companies inefficient producers in the Sahel try growing bananas. slow, vegan and free-range are all very well. But the
are cheap and dependable providers of your groceries, Expensive ‘food miles’ will just have to be added on to hungry of the world can’t be so particular. Not that
and that’s not going to change – get used to it! prices in supermarket aisles.

12
   N e w I n t e r n a t i o n a l i s t    D E C E M B ER 2 0 0 8 www.newint.org www.newint.org N e w I n t e r n a t i o n a l i s t    D E C E M B ER 2 0 0 8    13
Food crisis    M E A T

Meat’s too
of the Intergovernmental Panel on In 2006, farmers produced 276 million tons of meat,

ANDREW KOKOTK A
Climate Change, added his own fuel to five times as much as in the 1950s. In the West, meat
this particular fire with a presentation consumption has continued to increase, while those
in London. Though he was making a developing countries that have prospered over the period
personal case rather than representing have immediately tended to mark their new prosperity
his organization, there were inevitably by eating more meat – a trend that is obviously likely to

expensive
newspaper headlines along the lines continue.
of ‘UN chief says eat less meat to stop
global warming’.2 Meat consumption per head (kg per annum)
His presentation encompassed 40 years ago Now
the latest statistics, gathered from a US 89 124
range of different sources, not only Spain 22 119
on greenhouse-gas emissions from
the livestock industry but on the Europe 56 89
wasteful inefficiency of a food and Brazil 39 68
farming model based on meat and China 4 54
Chris Brazier believes that having flesh at the dairy produce. Among the key facts he Japan 8 42
included were:
centre of our diets is both unjust and unsustainable. • Livestock production accounts To feed the projected extra demand, there would need
for 80 per cent of greenhouse gas to be a further doubling of meat and dairy production
emissions from agriculture and for by 2050, involving a doubling in the number of farm
Why on 18 per cent of all greenhouse gas
emissions from human activities –
animals from the current 60 billion to 120 billion. Yet
70 per cent of all agricultural land and 30 per cent of

earth do you
including 37 per cent of the methane the world’s surface land area is already given over to
When I first became a vegetarian 30 years ago I used (23 times the global warming potential livestock.
to find myself in passionate discussions about food of CO2 over 100 years), and 65 per
eat meat?
issues all the time. The situation seemed so urgent. cent of the nitrous oxide (265 times Unsustainable
There were so many reasons to be vegetarian that I felt the global warming potential of CO 2
These global eating trends are clearly unsustainable,
(and still feel) that the burden of justification should be over 100 years). whether in terms of producing (and sharing) enough
turned around – not ‘why are you vegetarian?’ but rather • Producing one kilogram of beef food to feed a still-growing world population or of
‘why on earth do you eat meat?’ leads to the emission of greenhouse reducing greenhouse gas emissions. People who have up
There were reasons of dietary health – avoiding fat gases with a warming potential equivalent to 36.4 to now dismissed vegetarianism and veganism as mere
and cholesterol – and distaste for the idea of feeding kilograms of CO2 – equivalent to the amount emitted ‘lifestyle choices’ may over the next few years be forced
on the flesh of another sentient being. But those rarely by the average European car every 250 kilometres. to think again. Governments will surely be required to
cut any ice with committed meat-eaters. There was also The production of that one kilo of beef consumes 169 intervene to reduce (or at least limit the growth in) the
my abhorrence of the treatment of animals in factory megajoules of energy – enough to light a 100-watt bulb consumption of meat and dairy products. A good start
farming. However, if I chose the ground on which to for 20 days. would be eliminating the
do battle, I tended to talk about the misuse of food On the other hand, many friends who once seemed • On top of this, meat requires vast government subsidies
resources in a world where people still went hungry just as committed have reverted to eating meat, while refrigerated transportation and The burden of justification should be turned from which the meat and
– the enormous amounts of grain and pulses fed to in society as a whole vegetarians and vegans remain a storage, extensive packaging and around – not ‘why are you vegetarian?’ but dairy industries currently
cattle to produce a much smaller amount of beef. I saw small minority. In Britain a November 2007 survey by cooking at high temperatures benefit.
eschewing meat as ‘a conscientious objection to a system the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural for long periods. A high rather ‘why on earth do you eat meat?’ At an individual level,
with waste at one end and starvation at the other’.1 Affairs showed two per cent to be vegan, three per proportion of meat (bones and altering our diet may be as
cent vegetarian and a further five per cent restricting fat, as well as past-sell-by-date products) is wasted and much of a necessity in the years to come as insulating
Distasteful and unnatural themselves to fish or chicken. In other Western finds its way into landfills or incinerators. our homes or reducing our air travel. For those not
In more recent years, whether because I have become countries vegetarians and vegans are an even smaller • A farmer can feed up to 30 people throughout the prepared to give it up altogether, perhaps more attention
more mellow (or more cowardly) with age, I have minority. year on one hectare with vegetables, fruits, cereals and could be paid to meat’s origin – to eating only animals
rarely ended up in such arguments. I have retained my vegetable fats. If the same area is used for the production that have grazed areas unsuitable for arable farming. Or
convictions and my diet and have raised children for Turning-point of meat, milk or eggs, the number of persons fed varies perhaps meat might return to being something saved for
whom vegetarianism seems to be a fundamental part But a sea-change is now taking place. A turning- from 5 to 10. special occasions, for high days and holidays – as it was
of their identity. I had expected at least one of them to point came when it became evident that the livestock • A third of the world’s cereal harvest and over 90 per for earlier generations, and still is in most parts of the
experiment during adolescence but instead they still industry, in addition to all its other failings, was a cent of soya is used for animal feed, despite inherent Majority World.
perceive eating meat as both distasteful and unnatural. major contributor to climate change. Over the last year, inefficiencies. Yet it takes more than 10 kilograms of I felt the situation was urgent 30 years ago, but it is
Parenthood tends to focus you inward more, and a crisis in the existing world food and farming model grain to produce 1 kilo of beef, 4-5.5 kilos to produce 1 much more so now. The politics of food have always
to put you less in the paths of strangers to whom has erupted – refocusing attention on precisely those kilo of pork and 2.1-3.3 kilos of grain to produce 1 kilo been emotive but the stakes just got much, much higher.
an ‘abnormal’ diet would need explaining. Friends arguments about misuse of resources that fuelled my of poultry meat.
and family already know where I am coming from. original concern. • A vegan living for 70 years will pump an average of Chris Brazier is a New Internationalist Co-Editor.
Extraordinarily, given the shocked disbelief when I The 2006 report of the UN Food & Agriculture 100 tons less CO2-equivalent into the atmosphere than
first made my stand all those years ago, my extended Organization (FAO), ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow’, someone eating meat and dairy products. 1 Chris Brazier, Keynote article on ‘How to Feed the World’, NI 151,
family now splits pretty much down the middle (turkey- helped bring the global warming effect of the meat The food crisis detailed in the rest of this issue only September 1985. 2 The Observer, 7 September 2008.
eaters were actually a minority last Christmas). Less and dairy industries to public notice. Written by makes these statistics more telling. The era of cheap, All statistics in this article are drawn from Dr Rajendra Pachauri, ‘The
surprisingly, the New Internationalist co-operative agricultural economist Dr Henning Steinfeld, the mass-produced food – dependent on the consumption impact of meat production and consumption on climate change’, Compassion
also now splits down the middle. When I first joined in report caused consternation in the livestock industry of enormous amounts of energy and responsible for huge in World Farming’s Peter Roberts Memorial Lecture, 8 September 2008.
1984 I was profoundly shocked to find I was the lone and cost the FAO some of its funding. More recently, greenhouse-gas emissions – is surely coming to an end.
vegetarian. in September 2008, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the Chair Yet meat eating worldwide continues to rise.

14
   N ew I nternationalist   D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 8 www.newint.org www.newint.org N ew I nternationalist   D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 8    15
Russia

food Who wins? Who loses? Collapse of the global food system10 Belarus

Croatia

c ris i s
not afford food. A hundred million
Big companies: Hungry People: additional people were pushed into a
Unrest/protests
Serbia Uzbekistan
Export ban/restrictions
• The share price of two of the world’s • 2.6 billion people around the world situation of ‘food peril’.3 Pakistan China

the
biggest agribusinesses – Monsanto live on $2 a day or less and spend 60 Egypt
• Small farmers have seen few benefits
and Syngenta AG – almost doubled to 80 per cent of their income on food.8 from runaway food prices. In Spain the Mauritania
Niger
Yemen
Bangladesh
India
between June 2007 and June 2008.1 Sudan
• Today, 70 per cent of poor countries farmers’ union estimates that consumer Haiti Senegal
Cambodia

facts
are food importers and 80 per cent prices are 600 per cent higher than the Burkina Faso Ethiopia
of the estimated 845 million hungry prices farmers receive. 9 Ivory Coast
Profit increase for some of the Cameroon Sri Lanka
world’s largest grain traders people are small farmers.2
and fertilizer corporations2 • Slightly over a billion people Peru Tanzania
Indonesia

The increase in global food 2,340 • The Food and Agriculture in the world are overweight while
Organization estimates that the slightly under a billion suffer from Bolivia
prices may have temporarily (36%) 2,200 Company P  rofits 2007 Mozambique
(67%) in US$ million with increase in food prices in 2007/08 malnutrition.7
stalled but food is expected to increase from 2006
meant 100 million more people could
remain at record price levels for as a percentage in
brackets Argentina
the foreseeable future. Industrial
agriculture’s chickens have come grain
home to roost. But the price is traders 1,100 1,116 1,100
being paid not by agribusiness (72%) (44%) (95%) Food productivity
764
and food retailers but by small (30%) What’s has continued to
farmers whose income remains happened to increase but at a much
low, and by the millions being fertilizer agriculture?
diminished rate11
pushed into malnutrition. corporations
Wheat
10.5%
ra na rp
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S)

hi m
Rice Corn

)
or )
ay

na
• The majority of people in
(N d a
(U
(U

Ya Ca Co

(C e
(U

ch
w

Food price
a
M
ill

( h

no

Africa and Asia still survive by


gr

s
D
rg

ta

4.2%
Si
A

nA
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take-off what they can earn working 3.0%


Co

2.1% 1.2% 1.6%


as farmers.

Rise in food prices Speculators • The value of agricultural 61 04 61 04 61 04


research funds to 16 19 20 19 20 19 20
2005-20083
230
cash in research institutes (mostly
1999-2000 – 100 in the South) has been World population
The FAO steadily declining since 1996.12 growth is outstripping
Betting on the future price of the volume of food
Food Price rice forces up the real price4 • More than half of global
200 we produce11 9.2
Index shows agro-exports come from the
8.8
8.3
that global $25 7.7
food prices US, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, 6.9
6.1 number of people
170 have roughly Australia and France. (billions) projected
5.3
doubled in $20 Together these 4.5
eight years. countries represent 3.0 3.7 number of people Population
(billions) and
Rice futures productivity
140 per 100 pounds just 2% of world 2.0 2.1
1.5 total cereal produced
farmers.13 1.2 (billion tonnes)
$15
1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050
110

Q I L A I S H E N / PA N O S
20 05 20 06 20 07 20 08
$10 1 Globe and Mail, 28 June 2008 2 www.grain.org 3 www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation 4 Toronto
Star, 24 April 2008 5 The Guardian, 4 July 2008 6 The Guardian, 15 April 2008 7 101 Facts You Should
• In 2008 total world stocks of all Know About Food, Icon Books 2007 8 ‘The Food Crisis’, Ian Angus www.socialistproject.ca 9 www.
viacampesina.org 10 Der Spiegel, 14 April 2008 11 The Atlas of Food, Earthscan 2008 12 www.scidev.net
grains were at their lowest for 30 years. 2007 2008 13 ‘The not-so-sudden world food crisis’ www.canadiandimension.org 14 www.chathamhouse.org

Less than half the world’s Although estimates vary, Speculative pressure Climate change – and Agricultural inputs
Why did food grain production is actually eaten by up to 50% of the recent rise in – investment funds now the severe weather it brings (particularly petroleum-based
prices rise? people – the rest ends up as animal food prices can be traced to the control 50 to 60% of the about – is estimated to have ones) have gone up in line

1 2 3 4 5 6
feed and biofuels. In 2007 the global increased demand for a more wheat traded on the world’s increased the number of with the skyrocketing cost of
The US Government grain harvest was 2.1 billion tons. But meat-centred Western diet from biggest commodity markets. undernourished people by a barrel of oil. The increases
estimates that shifting agricultural only 1.01 billion tons will go to feed the growing middle classes of Speculative money in between 40 and 170 million. in the price of potash used in
land to biofuels increased world people. Some 760 million tons – or 14 India and China. Beef commodity futures like rice A multi-year drought has cut fertilizer (40% in SE Asia, 85%
food prices 3 per cent, but a World times the global food deficit – will be consumption in China has and grain has risen from $5 Australian grain production in Latin America, 130% in
Bank study holds the figure is as fed to animals.6 increased by 240% in the last billion in 2000 to $175 billion by 60% and wiped out the India and 227% in China) are
much as 75%.5 decade.7 in 2007.2 rice harvest completely.14 particularly crippling.2

16    N ew I nternationalist  D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 8 www.newint.org www.newint.org N E W I N T E R N AT I O N A L I S T D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 8 17


Food crisis    S O I L D E P L E T I O N

Peak soil
matter and thinning of soil that characterize industrial that convey sterility cross to non- acts as mulch, helping to retain moisture and retard
agriculture. Replacing soil fertility with chemical proprietary crops. Does it even erosion by as much as 90 per cent. With no-till practices
fertilizers and genetically engineered crops can boost make sense to design crops that can’t currently being used on less than 10 per cent of global
productivity in the short run, but a world stripped of its reproduce? cropland, there is tremendous potential to expand them,
soil cannot, in the end, feed itself. So how do we move to sustainable and to research how to couple them better with organic
Feeding a doubled human population without agriculture and still feed the world? methods.
further increasing crop yields would require doubling The answer lies in better adapting what Industrial agriculture will never provide a way out of

ANDREW KOKOTK A
In a world plagued Oil is what most of us think of as a strategic
resource, yet in the long run it is soil which
the area presently under cultivation. Such vast tracts
of land could only be found in tropical forests and
we do to where we do it. To do this
we need to restructure agricultural
hunger for the third of humanity that lives on less than
two dollars a day. More innovative thinking is necessary,
with worries about is the more important. Even so, people’s eyes
tend to glaze over when talk turns to soil
subtropical grasslands – like the Amazon and the Sahel.
Experience shows that farming such marginal lands
subsidies to favour small-scale organic
farms, encourage soil-friendly farming
and on a global scale. If we are to feed those too poor to
buy food, the naïve idea that all we need to do is produce
depleting resources, conservation, maybe because it’s so much
easier to see the immediate relevance of rising
produces an initial return, but the land quickly becomes
degraded and has to be abandoned – if the population
methods such as no-tilling (see below) for larger
industrial farms, and develop urban agriculture.
cheap food must go. While food was still cheap there
were still far too many hungry people on the planet. A
having enough dirt gas prices and climate change in these days of
peak oil. So while public attitudes on climate
has somewhere to go. With the land best suited for
agriculture already under cultivation, expansion into
Public dialogue and media portrayals of organic
farming tend to the simplistic, pitting those who
different approach – one that might actually work –
would be to promote the prosperity of small farms in
to go round seems change have shifted dramatically over the
past few years, a crisis in global agriculture
marginal areas is not a long-term strategy. consider modern industrial farming unsustainable
against those who argue that organic methods are
the Global South so that subsistence farmers can feed
themselves, generate an income and become stewards
Small and soil friendly
like the least of remains hidden: we are, and have long been,
using up the supply of topsoil we rely on to In contrast to the amount of arable land, which has
unethical when hunger plagues so many people.
Representatives of agribusiness like to question the
of the land. To do this they need access to enough
land to grow a marketable surplus, and an agricultural
our problems. grow our food.
Those of us living in modern cities can
varied widely through time and across civilizations,
the amount of land needed to feed a person has
relevance of organic
agriculture in feeding a
support system that builds
Among soil scientists, concern over the world’s on indigenous agricultural
David Montgomery easily forget that without fertile soil we
could not survive. Yet modern agricultural
systematically declined. Hunting and gathering societies
used from 20 to 100 hectares per person; our current
10-billion-person planet
and instead promote
fast-depleting soil is almost universal knowledge and provides
appropriate tools.
dissents. techniques are eroding the very soil on which
food production depends. This ongoing soil
use of 1.5 billion hectares of cultivated land to feed
roughly 6 billion people equates to about 0.25 hectares
agrochemicals and genetically modified crops as keys to
food security. Yet many studies over the past decades
Finally, as oil and the cost of shipping food around
the world become more expensive, it will become
loss means we face the problem of feeding a growing of cropland per person. And by 2050 the amount of have shown that crop yields under organic methods increasingly attractive to take food production to
population from a shrinking land base. This should be available cropland is projected to drop to less than 0.1 are comparable to those achieved through conventional the people – into the cities. With 800 million people
troubling because even a casual reading of history shows hectare per person. So, simply keeping up will require methods. Indeed, some of the highest crop yields come already involved, urban farming is not restricted to
that, under the right circumstances, climatic extremes, major increases in crop yields. from small-scale, labour-intensive organic farms. developing countries; by the late 1990s two-thirds of
political turmoil or resource abuse can bring down a Before 1950, increases in global food production Many currently profitable industrial farming Moscow’s families were engaged in urban agriculture.
society. And in the century ahead we face all three, came by either enlarging the area under cultivation or methods would become uneconomic if their true costs City agriculturalist Will Allen has been pioneering
as shifting climate patterns and depleted oil supplies improved husbandry. Since 1950 most of the increase were incorporated into market pricing. Direct financial urban farming in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as a way to
coincide with progressive loss of farmland. has come from mechanization and intensified use of subsidies and failure to include the costs of depleting soil provide healthy, affordable diets to low-income urban
We have, in effect, been ‘mining’ soil for much of chemical fertilizers. The ‘green revolution’ doubled food fertility encourage practices that degrade the land. In populations. He has come to realize that urban farms
human history. Indeed, the decline in fertility and loss production and averted a food crisis through increased the US, for example, the top 10 per cent of agricultural not only deliver fresh produce to city dwellers at a lower
of agricultural lands through wind and water erosion is use of chemical fertilizers, massive investments in producers now receive 66 per cent of the more than $10 cost of transportation, but that they typically use far
a problem as old as agriculture itself. Civilizations from irrigation infrastructure in developing nations and billion handed out in annual subsidies, and they use it less water, fertilizer and oil, and can reduce urban waste
Babylon to Easter Island have proven only as durable as the introduction of high-yield varieties of wheat and to support large farms growing single crops, particularly disposal problems and costs.
the fertility of their land. The Roman Empire left Eastern rice capable of producing two or three harvests a year. wheat, corn and cotton. We need to curb the $300 Among soil scientists, concern over the world’s fast-
Mediterranean agriculture in a state from which it has yet Subsequently, however, growth in crop yields has slowed billion in global agricultural subsidies – more than six depleting soil is almost universal. Unfortunately, saving
to recover. But the problem of soil loss is not just ancient and achieving further substantial increases through times the world’s annual development assistance budget dirt just isn’t a very sexy issue. However, time grows
history. Exacerbated by modern industrial farming, conventional means seems unlikely – since crops don’t – that encourage unsustainable industrial farming. short and industrial agriculture is proving an expensive
global agricultural soil loss of about a millimetre per year take up half the nitrogen in the fertilizers farmers apply Shifting public support to make organic agriculture and increasingly risky dead end. We are left with a
outpaces soil formation by at least tenfold. today, adding even more won’t help. more competitive is part of the answer. fundamental challenge: how do we merge traditional
Over the past century, the effects of long-term soil Perhaps genetic engineering could substantially agricultural knowledge with modern understanding
erosion were masked by bringing new land under increase crop yields – but only at the risk of releasing No-till alternative of soil ecology to promote and sustain intensive
cultivation and by developing fertilizers, pesticides super-competitive species into agricultural and natural No-till agriculture also warrants greater public support, agriculture? Herein lies our real hope for feeding a
and crop varieties to compensate for declining soil environments, with unknowable consequences. So as it can effectively maintain crop yields and slow down hungry world.
productivity. However, such ‘agrotech’ fixes become far, the promise of greatly increased crop yields from soil loss, even on large, mechanized farms. Instead of
progressively more difficult to maintain because genetic engineering remains unfulfilled. And it could using a plough to turn the soil and open the ground, David R Montgomery is the author of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations and
crop yields decline exponentially as soil thins. While prove catastrophic, should genetically modified genes no-till farmers push seeds into the ground through the professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington.
A Saskatchewan fertilizers can temporarily offset the effects of soil organic matter left over from prior crops, minimizing

COURTNEY MILNE
dust storm blows erosion, the long-term productivity of the land cannot direct disturbance of the soil. Although adoption of
away the future. be maintained in the face of the reduced organic no-till methods is often accompanied by increased
herbicide use, crop residue left at the ground surface

18    N e w I n t e r n a t i o n a l i s t D E C E M B ER 2 0 0 8 www.newint.org www.newint.org N e w I n t e r n at i o n a l i s t D E C E M B ER 2 0 0 8    19
Food crisis   farming Food crisis    A L T E R N A T I V E S

Selling out the farm, in order to earn extra money.


The land was a slice of Ontario paradise, gently
rolling with abundant woods and wetlands. It was as
close to pristine as a place could be in industrialized With industrial agriculture getting a

the farm
North America. The farm was based primarily on
growing grass to feed livestock. Grass agriculture was failing grade for its inability to feed
efficient, reducing the dependence on expensive inputs
like fertilizer, pesticides and energy, as well as being the hungry and its high ecological
more environmentally sustainable.
Storm clouds
costs, Wayne Roberts thinks we
Our problems began on 20 May 2003, when a case of need to mix and match to restore a
BSE or Mad Cow Disease was discovered in western
Ray Burley’s story is all too familiar to Canadian farmers. Canada. Borders in the US and around the world were sustainable and fair food system.

Fusion time
slammed shut. Before BSE was discovered, 75 per
cent of Canada’s beef stock went to the US as either
processed meat or live animals. A glimmer of hope
‘Why do they bury dead farmers only two feet deep?’ came in September when the US announced it would
asks the farmer. ‘So they can still get their hand out…’ permit the import of processed boxed beef from animals
It is gallows humour, the kind of canary-in-the- less than 30 months old. The US transnationals that
coalmine commentary used by race comedians. Many control 70 per cent of the processing industry cleaned
farmers tell the story because they want to pre-empt up – they were able to buy Canadian beef for a pittance
what they believe the rest of society is already thinking. and then process and ship it to the US, where it sold at
It is also has the echo of the bittersweet hopelessness of inflated prices. As a result, the profits of the Canadian
bluegrass music. subsidiaries of Cargill and Tyson Foods increased by
‘Carry me away’ is not an expression of religious zeal. 280 per cent.
It is a plea to be relieved of suffering. By fall, calf prices had risen slightly but were still
After 20 years of farming, my wife and I made the barely half those of the previous year. We, like many
decision to quit. We were forced out because farmers, decided to keep stock that we would normally I’ve got to thinking that Fusion may be just the answer perspectives. Before the era of cheap fossil fuels that

MIKE BLAKE / REUTERS


in the world of corporate monopoly of have sold. This meant not only a loss of income, but to the world’s power shortage problem. Calm down could be used for fertilizer, mixed farming of diverse
processors and supermarkets, there is also the added expense of feeding the cattle through the – I’m not thinking about nuclear fusion for electrical crops was the norm. Earlier this year I volunteered
virtually no price competition for the food winter. The crisis was not resolved and we continued to power! I’m thinking about Fusion foods, which offer at one such postcard-perfect mixed farm, owned by
we produced. At the same time the costs of haemorrhage money. new ways of combining a wide range of ingredients, Allister and Margaret Veinot, on Canada’s Prince
farm inputs – things like fuel, machinery Four years later the market had still not recovered. and the possibilities of growing people-power in an Edward Island. I was amazed at how lightly mixed
and fertilizer – were rising precipitously. Over this period other economic factors came into emerging food system. farmers step on the earth. The sheep feed mainly
These sectors too are controlled by giant play. The price of commodities like grains, oilseeds Upscale chefs have created some confusion about on pasture, the greenest crop that can be grown on
agribusiness corporations that reap usurious and other livestock fell. By trying to farm we were Fusion by using the word to brand their out-of-the-box marginal land that’s too poorly drained to be planted
profits. For us, the arrival of Mad Cow subsidizing corporate agribusiness and consumers by and expensive approach to mixing ingredients from with crops for human consumption. A local beekeeper
Disease was the tipping point, but in producing food at a loss. It was time to sell. But a farm many lands and cultures. Food history shows that pays rent of two buckets of honey a year in return for
truth our enterprise would probably have developed over two decades is a complex organism Fusion cooking came out of the cultural inventions and permission to store a hundred hives on the pasture.
perished anyway. and it took a year to sell the cattle, the sheep, the sharing that happened whenever ordinary people from Blueberry pickers pay to pick in two hectares of forest
No matter how powerful a person’s machinery and the farm. different places met, when working as sailors and migrant on the farm. The manure from the sheep is composted
ability to rationalize, there is a sense of ‘What have you lost?’ people ask. ‘How do you feel?’ labourers, or thrown together in servitude. What else in the vegetable garden and greenhouse that supply
failure and loss in being forced to abandon Twenty years is barely a heartbeat in history. Yet over is Creole cuisine, concocted from the cooking pots of a nearby farmers’ market. Culls and weeds from the
a fulfilling undertaking. To farm is to that time an entrepreneur built a nine-square-kilometre African slaves and indigenous peoples of the Caribbean garden provide nutrient variety in the pasture-based
enter into a union with nature that is as water plant next to our farm. Pig factories soiled the during the 1500s, but Fusion? diet of the sheep and other livestock. By Fusion-style
foreign to most urbanites as the surface air. Tractor-trailer tankers of city sewage sludge were In today’s world, Fusion also appears
of the Moon. There is a close association parked in neighbours’ fields. Giant wind turbines, to on menus for personal, political and Fusion perspectives on food may be just the first popular expression
with the tenacity and cycle of life, with feed the urban need for air conditioning, sprouted food change. Fusion savours the collapse of the new energy released by this wider range of options
the weather and the seasons. Each like burdocks. Depressed land prices allowed wealthy of the bipolar world of the Cold War,
season is a preparation for another: stockbrokers and lawyers to build monster ski chalets when the US and the Soviet Union presented the mixing and matching, the Veinots, the island’s first
planting in spring to harvest in the fall, and horse palaces. world with two offers that couldn’t be refused. This was certified organic farmers, run a zero-waste operation
haying in summer to feed in winter, What is lost? First, a dream. Second, a steward of the followed by the downfall of the ‘new world order’ that that requires few energy inputs from afar – the multi-
breeding in one season to calve or lamb land. Third, a bond with a culture and a community. US governments and the World Trade Organization polar opposite to the monoculture standard in over-
in another. The years flow together in Fourth, an engine of the rural economy. Fifth, a tried to impose after the Soviet Union disintegrated. specialized and industrialized agriculture.
an indefatigable, bucolic continuum. sustainable and safe source of food. China, India, Brazil, Venezuela and a revitalized Likewise, to manage pests without toxic pesticides,
We bought our farm in 1988 and, How do we feel? Europe are only the first to step away from the demands sustainable farmers learn to get by with a little help
starting with just three cows, built a Relieved. In the end some Mennonite farmers bought of a unipolar world and announce that multipolar is the from companion plants. Companion planting is about
herd of 80 beef cows and a flock of us out. The land was not suited for stockbrokers. Too new normal. putting odd couples together in a garden or farm so
45 ewes over the next decade. We close to the water factory. A multipolar world opens up new ways of seeing that each overcomes the weakness of the other by
were part of a rural community options in many areas of life. Fusion perspectives on warding off pests or enriching the soil. Horseradish
that was generous with advice and Ray Burley used to farm in the Blue Ridge Mountain region of food may be just the first popular expression of the new protects potatoes from potato beetle, while onions
help. As on most family farms, my Southwestern Ontario. energy released by this wider range of options. protect asparagus from slugs, and alfalfa draws down
wife and I also worked away from Sustainable agriculture fits well with Fusion nitrogen and breaks up hard soil for other types of

20   N ew I nternationalist   D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 8 www.newint.org www.newint.org N ew I nternationalist   D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 8    21


Food crisis    A L T E R N A T I V E S

vegetable. Plants from very different families and The hot debate about local and long-distance foods will
countries join a farm orchestra that creates a whole also cool down once the Fusion-loving complexity of food
with more vitality than the sum of its unfused parts. is understood. There is little need for a sharp split when
most studies agree that long-distance transportation of
No more either/or food accounts for less than 15 per cent of the total energy
In a multi-polar world, ‘either/or’ no more describes the consumed in food production. Some foods – grains and
range of choices than ‘my way or the highway’. I believe coffee spring to mind – can be carted long distances at
this mix of disparate partners, increasingly the norm in a slow pace that requires little energy or pollution. The
food-based non governmental organizations (NGOs), heavy-duty and polluting energy in food comes from
is a precondition for a more democratic, egalitarian, artificial fertilizers, processing, packaging, refrigeration,
sustainable and healthy food system. and above all, corporate and personal waste. That allows
There are no simple formulas or silver bullets for responsible governments, retailers and eaters some leeway
food problems. No remedy can be designed that doesn’t to find a variety of ways to reduce the energy required
incorporate personal responsibility, for example. At to produce food, and a way out of creating unnecessary
some point, people who eat too many unhealthy foods divisions based on unnecessary conflicts. Fair trade coffee,
causing degenerative diseases have to make the up close shipped as dried beans to be roasted and packaged in
and personal commitment to cut the crap. Likewise, reusable or compostable packages close to the customer,
any remedy requires collaboration among many actors with the waste heat from the roasting being used to warm
– individual eaters, farmers and fishers, processors, greenhouses that grow winter vegetables – as is done by
distributors, retailers, workplaces, childcare centres, the Saltspring Coffee Company on Canada’s west coast
public-sector purchasers, government agriculture – is about as ‘go local’ as Fusion trade can get. What’s the
departments… and on and on. This patchwork of free- point of angst or arguing?
flowing and networked collaboration and partnership In much the same way, needless conflicts between
could be called Fusion – an option for an engaged vegetarians and carnivores – many argue that meat
democracy that governments seem reluctant to embrace. requires far too much grain that could otherwise
Just as good gardens flourish with
unexpected companion plants, and tasty There is no good reason for a polarized debate about farming for

The road
meals engage a range of complementary taste
buds, food politics embraces differences that
fuel, fabric and fibre as well as food, when all can flourish together
might appear as contradictions. Two equally in farms that produce renewable materials for many purposes
powerful forces supported Cuba’s surprising

NICHOLAS ROBERTS / AFP / GETTY IMAGES


success in overcoming hunger in the ‘special period’, be eaten by humans, or that the sheer amount of
when it went cold turkey to end its addiction to Soviet grains eaten by livestock makes meat as harmful to
supplies and markets. One force was unquestionably
the power of its public institutions to govern education,
global warming as Hummers – can identify points
of agreement in a Fusion framework. If livestock eat Financial
health and other determinants of well-being. Equally pasture grasses, the food many animals evolved on, crisis

to
important was the second force: a glasnost of personal the animals are healthier, provide leaner and more
and informal initiatives, often nurtured by NGOs, nutritious meat, and feed on a farm crop that’s raised
which were responsible for the unprecedented expansion with a light touch with minimal fuel inputs and a
of self-managed food gardens in Havana and other cities tolerance for biodiversity. A parting of the ways is not
– the key to Cuba’s ability to produce and distribute how to imagine the eclectic future of sustainability,
adequate food for all. Seemingly far apart on the
political spectrum, public power and the power of one
which is why dialogue is the kissing cousin of fusion.
As essential as food and agriculture are to the
David Ransom takes a global look at a financial
come together in the new Fusion scene. individual and collective well-being of all people, they
crisis still largely couched in parochial terms.

meltdown
have not been the subject of general or comprehensive
Fusion trumps conflict social movements in the way that other issues –
I believe many of the heated conflicts currently think national independence, gender equality, union
bedevilling the relationships between people working on organization, public health, the right to vote or universal
various aspects of food issues will assume their proper education, for example – have been. I think this delay
(minimal) proportions once Fusion perspectives become in the development of unified food movements results
the norm. There are many reasons to oppose biofuels from the unyielding resistance that the complexity of
made from corn or palm oil, for example, and just as food, farming and fishing have always offered to the
many reasons to support biofuels from crops that store simple algorithms that make industrial production
carbon underground while protecting animal habitat and centralized politics possible. Until more diversity-
above ground. A recent Canadian experiment conducted tolerant ways of mixing it up became more acceptable,
by the NGO Resource Efficient Agricultural Production there was little space for unifying movements that
has established that switchgrass – with deep roots that embraced the panorama of food issues. But the time for
heal damaged lands and rebuild carbon stores, while a more sophisticated food politics is long past due. The
providing nesting ground for birds during early summer kind of imagination that has made the world ripe for ‘You mean, we’re giving the banks all this money just so anything wrong with the house.’
– can be cut and pelleted for fuel that heats greenhouses Fusion-style cooking in the kitchen, can also make it they can lend it back to us with interest?’ Well, yes, Common sense is uncommon among the light-
at an efficiency rate 570 per cent higher than corn ethanol ripe for a Fusion-style cooking up of a political storm. that is precisely what the bank bailout currently means fingered people who have had their hands on the tiller
or soy diesel fuel. There is no good reason for a polarized – and an incredulous ‘vox pop’ interviewee on a radio of the ship of state, the luxury yacht of globalization.
debate about farming for fuel, fabric and fibre as well as Wayne Roberts manages the Toronto Food Policy Council and is the author station in Britain had got it in one. So had a woman in What the rich world faces is, in truth, nothing much
food, when all can flourish together in farms that produce of the No Nonsense Guide to Food, published by New Internationalist. the US who pointed to one of the empty ‘foreclosed’ more complicated than a good, old-fashioned debt crisis
renewable materials for many purposes. To order visit your local online shop www.newint.org/shop/ homes in her street and said: ‘It’s not as if there’s – even if ‘credit crunch’ sounds nicer. Either way, it’s

22    N ew I nternationalist   D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 8 www.newint.org www.newint.org N ew I nternationalist   D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 8    23


Financial crisis Financial crisis

Clean
a matter of living beyond one’s means, of not paying At much the same time, corporate globalization
S P Vs
debts where they are due. This has been possible only
because the debts are owed, for the most part, by the
twigged that cheap commodities could be matched
with cheap, unorganized labour in places like China, ta x short hedge
have selling funds
rich and powerful in the Minority World to the poor Indonesia or Mexico, to produce cheap consumer
and vulnerable in the Majority World – and to that goods. Together, these two cheap things from the

n
ultimate creditor of everything, nature itself. Majority World removed the threat of price inflation

world s w to CREDIT
In fact, it all began with what looks like a gift from in the Minority World. This gave birth not just to a

start
nature – oil. The price quadrupled during the first globalized consumer culture but to low interest rates
‘oil shock’ in the early 1970s. This generated vast and cheap money.
quantities of windfall cash for the oil-rich OPEC
countries (or rather, their rulers). The cash had to
With this money a veritable orchestra of financial
instruments began to ‘leverage’ – acquire with b a nk r t D E FA U L
go somewhere. So a new sort of footloose currency, borrowed money – everything within reach. It
sh ho S W OP S
e
sometimes styled ‘petrodollars’, began to circulate. levitated into a world of make-believe riches based

s e l l i n g
F f und s f r eed g e
IM
This evaded the rules that had governed international on (insider) information and (private) services
finance since the Bretton Woods conference in which made nothing but money itself. The crude
1944 – which was aimed, if a little uncertainly, at reality of inflated prices for ‘assets’ like homes,

CDO s w or l d t r a de
preventing a repetition of the Great Depression of the together with trade or budget deficits and personal
1930s and the bloodshed that followed. debt – particularly in the US and Britain – was

– creating a
Incubated by petrodollars, Masters of the Universe casually discounted. Confidence, or blind faith, was
duly hatched on Wall Street and in the City of everything.
London. A receptive President Nixon had been
prevailed upon to begin financial deregulation in 1972
But the growing scarcity of oil in particular and
finite resources in general grew along with their
b a nk
E
– by some counts there have been 42 financial crises consumption, so that their cheapness could no longer

I M E P R I M
fair economy
worldwide in the 36 years since. be assured. Supercharged by speculation, the price of
Much of the cash went wherever it seemed most
likely to make the fastest and fattest returns. At the
oil, food and commodities on world markets eventually
began to soar – a warning of what was to come.
SU B P R SU B
time, since the rich world was staggering under the Countries with trade and budget surpluses
T OX I C
w t o L C DEB T
impact of the oil shock, that pointed to a motley (notably China and, once again, OPEC) had by now
crew of corporations, despots, oligarchs, kleptocrats accumulated vast ‘Sovereign Wealth Funds’. For a
and chancers operating in former
All the signs are that the meltdown has a long way to go yet. Many
A
colonies and across the Third World.
They duly squandered the money on
millions of lives will be ruined, starting with the most vulnerable, With capitalism crashing about
A P I
C GH T TA S I N O
CAPITALI
themselves, recycling it once more into
the numbered bank accounts and tax most of whom live in the Majority World our ears, now is the time to make
havens thoughtfully provided by the
Masters of the Universe. The cancerous reproduction while they had little option but to feed the debts of
a fairer future. We have asked FL I SM
SECURITIZ ATION
of candyfloss, globalized finance had begun. the Minority World – again, that cash had to go
Before long, however, the problem of ‘servicing’ somewhere.
these debts, or paying them back, threatened to result
in defaults on a massive scale and, what was worse,
Then, in August 2007, the default line was crossed.
Sovereign Wealth Funds would not, understandably
writers, thinkers and activists
AT I V E S
sink the financial institutions that were responsible.
So a ‘Third World Debt Crisis’ was concocted. This,
enough, lend to bankrupt private financial institutions
in the rich world. So, once again, private liabilities from around the world to look at
DE R I V
the first of such crises, established the principle that
liabilities incurred for private gain must, in the name
had to be offloaded, via governments, on to the public.
Any thought of ‘structural adjustment’ here was, the opportunities presented by
C A T
FAT
of saving the system from itself, be offloaded via however, dismissed as the economic madness it always
governments on to the public at large.
Politically, this meant subjecting these regions to
was. Huge sums of funny money were spirited from
nowhere. Quite how these governments can themselves
the current crises and to propose
whatever form of repression came most readily to hand. remain solvent no-one yet wants to say.
Economically, it meant ‘structural adjustment’, first Whatever else, neoliberalism lies in ruins. A strategies for radical change.
cobbled together in response to the crisis in Mexico in financial cartel that was too big to fail has failed all
1982. This imposed the privatization of everything, the same. Moral hazard now defines a system of
the cutting of public expenditure and the charging of private finance that cannot function without public TRADE credit bubble was necessary in order to make up
fees for public services, including healthcare and (in funds, obtained by what amounts to blackmail on an First and foremost, the crisis has debunked the for the shortfall in workers’ earnings. Part of the
flagrant breach of the Universal Declaration of Human industrial scale. theory that deregulation of markets will bring greater solution must be to rebalance the global economy by
Rights) elementary education. All the signs are that the meltdown has a long way prosperity. The ‘light touch’ approach is now universally raising wages and removing the root cause of the debt
To pay back their oppressors’ debts, and to earn to go yet. Many millions of lives will be ruined, starting recognized as one of the main causes of the current pandemic.
the foreign currency that was demanded in payment, with the most vulnerable, most of whom live in the crisis. Yet the World Trade Organization (WTO) Third, new models have been developed based on
the people of these countries were also required Majority World. Good can come out of it only if the continues to push for the further deregulation of principles of food sovereignty, which puts the rights of
to adopt ‘export-oriented growth’; to ship out, all historic debt to these people, and to nature, is repaid. financial markets. It must be stopped. The same applies local populations before the profit motives of agribusiness;
at the same time, whatever natural resources they And that can happen only when the realization dawns to even more extreme free trade agreements which and on sustainable development, which builds for the
possessed, including food in hungry countries and that ‘regulation’ and ‘nationalization’ are not technical the EU, US and others are seeking to negotiate with future, while safeguarding the jobs of today.
raw materials like timber, copper and, of course, oil. fixes but acts of democratic control. The victory of individual developing countries. At the government level the Bolivarian Alternative,
Environmental destruction escalated apace, while the Barack Obama in the US presidential elections is a Second, we must point to the underlying imbalance Alba, has paved the way for a new generation of trade
resulting glut of commodities on world markets made step forward. But the hardest part is still to come. in the global economy. Workers have been denied agreements based on co-operation, not competition.
them incredibly cheap. their fair share in the spoils of globalization. The These are all positive alternatives to set alongside the

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Financial crisis
decarbonized HOUSING
negative model which has dominated for so long.
There are strong forces lined up in opposition. social economy The need to improve housing for low-income households
Provide interest-free or cheap loans to small farmers.
Subsidize agricultural production so that everyone can
Corporate lobbyists have reinvented themselves as
champions of regulation in order to preserve the system. housing lies behind recent events. In the case of sub-prime
mortgages, families took on debts in the hope of
afford to eat. If the West can subsidize its farmers, so
must we!
Already there are new calls to revive the stalled Doha
round of WTO negotiations. Politicians are still
queuing up to defend the principles of free trade.
trade justice securing a better future. But shelter for low-income
families is unlikely to be provided through the market
alone. Although rich Northern institutions seem to be
Stop capital flight – enact strict exchange controls,
and bring an end to speculation. Close all tax-
free havens and impose progressive taxes. Prevent
Only by deepening the analysis and presenting the
positive alternatives can we show people that another
transparency short of strategies, the South has a wealth of experiences
on which to draw.
repatriation of profits by multinationals – insist that
they re-invest in local production.
world is not just possible, but needed now more than ever.
John Hilary multipolar greater Some of the lowest-income urban citizens – pavement
dwellers on the streets of Mumbai – have spawned a
Invest in ensuring that everyone can be productive
and self-respecting citizens through making health,

world social green


Executive Director of War on Want. financial process that has proved to be significantly education and social welfare universally accessible.
more robust in addressing the needs of the poor. Renationalize the service industries – water, energy,
In a nutshell: jobs Shack/Slum Dwellers International is a network of transport, communications – all of which were sold for
Exit free trade; enter trade justice equality women-led saving schemes which is active in over
20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Much of their work focuses on shelter because this is
a song under the rule of neoliberalism. Impose tariffs on
imported goods. Refuse to pay odious debts.
Such policies will happen only if there is sufficient
a priority for the members. mobilization by social movements to demand that our

A MULTIPOLAR WORLD new green deal The network uses both financial and political
strategies. Local groups are skilled in managing savings
governments make them a reality. That is not going to be
easy, since it has been our own élites that have benefited
For those who look forward to a new world order in and loan finance. These local groups work within from neoliberal policies. Debates and discussions about
which the US and the G7 have less power to set the
agenda on their own (even while the US remains the progressive federations of homeless and landless people. Together
they have developed a financial strategy that works for,
alternatives need to be stimulated at every level; in the
home, on the farms, in the market place, at schools and
‘indispensable nation’), the crisis has a silver lining.
The fact that it is the first crisis in history where taxes rather than against, the urban poor. Their model has
been tested, securing tenure for over 150,000 low-
in every workplace.
Firoze Manji
hopes are pinned on growth in developing countries income families. Editor of the Africa-focused Pambazuka News and
to rescue the world economy, and the first time What’s so good about it? First, people’s own finance Executive Director of Fahamu – Networks for Social
that troubled banks in the US and Europe have establishes strong and regular savings groups in low- Justice.
been rescued by capital injections from developing income neighbourhoods. Daily savings collections
countries, should jolt the US and the G7 out of secure money when it is available and build up relations In a nutshell:
complacency about their own leadership and about the MILITARY SPENDING of trust between neighbours. Bring an end to speculation; nationalize public
truth of market fundamentalism. Just a few days before Congress passed the $700 billion Second, the federations are able to negotiate with services; subsidize agriculture; mobilize civil
The crisis may be a stealthy bridge-building event Wall Street bailout bill, it passed another massive government and financial institutions. Community society
towards incorporating China and several other spending bill with almost no-one paying attention. networks manage the loan process to ensure that
‘emerging market’ states as equal partners, towards It was the Defense Bill: $613 billion for the ‘regular’ vulnerabilities are not increased.
a new approach to the role of political authorities in military budget, above and beyond this year’s $182 Third, state subsidies ensure that everyone, even
governing the market, and even towards loosening the billion in direct costs for the actual wars the Pentagon is those with the lowest incomes, can secure housing
grip of finance and the military on the US Government. fighting today. improvements. State finance and other contributions, A GREEN NEW DEAL
But the immediate sharp question is whether When we hear about the consequences of the Wall such as free or low-cost land, are blended with people’s European politicians, thrown by the urgent need to
developing countries will try to break away from their Street bailout, we hear a lot about inevitable cuts in own money to improve affordability and inclusion. nationalize banks and ditch free market fetishism, must
commitment to export-led growth as their exports to the other budget items. But the military budget is somehow Fourth, there are no short cuts. Families have to see now turn their attention to tackling unemployment and
never on the list of those for themselves what they can afford to repay. Members business closures in the real economy. Already it has
Only by deepening the analysis and presenting the positive alternatives can we show items that could be cut. War have learnt by experience that they cannot rely on others been proposed at the European Summit that, in the
production doesn’t create real to manage the finance for them. aftermath of the credit crunch, it will be too expensive
people that another world is not just possible, but needed now more than ever economic health – what do all At least 900 million people in Southern towns and to reduce carbon emissions substantially at the same
those fancy missile systems, cities are in housing need. Faced with market and time. Yet it would be foolish to use the economic
US economy slow, and instead develop internal demand space weapons, battleships, even tanks and Humvees, state failure, the urban poor are designing their own slowdown as an excuse to water down commitments
to compensate for falling demand in the North. produce other than a lot of dead Iraqis and Afghans? programmes and negotiating their own finance. to tackling climate change, since this can be the very
If they did, it would be a sure sign of the weakening What better way to ‘bail out’ our battered economy Diana Mitlin route to providing the huge number of jobs and business
of the globalization consensus. But to do so they would than to provide real jobs to soldiers drafted by lack of Senior Researcher, Human Settlements, International opportunities now required for a steady-state economy.
have to curb soaring income inequality, especially top opportunities and to redirect the hundreds of billions of Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Back in the 1930s, President Roosevelt’s New Deal
incomes relative to the median, and redistribute income war spending into green jobs, rebuilding our crumbling helped the world emerge from economic depression
downwards. So deeply has the globalization consensus infrastructure, training new teachers and building new In a nutshell: through a massive public works programme. We now
eclipsed concern about income inequality worldwide schools? Learn from the global South about how to create urgently need to update that programme and introduce
that it hardly features on the public policy agenda except And what better place to find the funds to do that and finance housing a Green New Deal.
as ‘poverty reduction’. than to end the wars – now – and slash the military It would re-regulate the national and international
Robert Wade budget? finance systems, encourage fair and green taxation,
Professor of Economics at the London School of Phyllis Bennis close down tax havens and generate a transformational
Economics. analyst, activist, Middle East specialist. economic programme to decarbonize our economy.
See http://www.ips-dc.org/articles/811 DEVELOPMENT At the same time, it would provide secure investments
In a nutshell: This is an opportunity for the South to proclaim the for pensions and savings, using that capital to kick-start
Out with Western domination and the In a nutshell: death knell of neoliberalism. a massive public and private works programme to cut
‘globalization consensus’; in with a multipolar Slash military budgets; increase social and Nationalize the banks, but don’t limit it to the failing energy use.
world and greater social equality environmental spending ones. Open the books to public inspection – let citizens At its core would be an innovative and exciting
decide how profits can be used for the greater good. 21st century project to make buildings truly energy

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Financial crisis
efficient, with the aim of making every building a this bailout is that everyone can see that you can find This is a big mistake. Developing countries should be such shocks reverberate much more widely. But there’s
generator of power. It would slash fossil fuel use and billions for the banks in half an hour, but that you talking about forming regional funds and strengthening also the fact that India has a fairly robust economy;
spark a revolution in renewable energies and energy don’t get anything in return. With the banks now regional relations rather than reinvigorating these that while the current 7.5 per cent growth may slow
efficiency, creating many thousands of green-collar jobs being nationalized or renationalized, you could direct Jurassic institutions. down, it will still be growth; that many banks in India
in the process. investments towards all kinds of things, much in the way Walden Bello were nationalized three decades ago (a move that saw
European leaders must recognize that the Green New Franklin Roosevelt did during the Depression. Focus on the Global South, Thailand. much opposition then, but is seen quite differently
Deal is a route map for tackling the triple crunch of the It’s time for an ‘Ecological Keynesianism’ – a massive now); and that most poor people, more specifically poor
credit crunch, an encroaching peak in oil production, public spending plan towards ecologically sound In a nutshell: women, have their savings in nationalized banks – many
and climate change. It should be put at the heart of projects and technologies that will ultimately reorient Deglobalize; strengthen regional South-South through micro-credit groups.
their efforts to deal with the economic crisis in order our economies towards more progressive aims. And of relations; put Greenspan et al on trial Not so for women at the upper end of the scale, or
to transform today’s reality of energy insecurity, rising course it’s deliverable: we have most of the technology closer to its middle. For them, the financial crisis has
joblessness and economic decline into a more secure we need already. Some green technologies are very had a deep and profound impact – share prices have
future for all. expensive, but if you mass-produce them the costs go dropped, hard earned savings invested in the market
Caroline Lucas down considerably and almost right away. What the have all but disappeared, and although there is a sense
A Green Member of the European Parliament, she is economist John Maynard Keynes dreamed of was a EQUALITY that things may start to improve, that doesn’t take away
also a member of the Green New Deal Group. trade organization with a financing arm which would To Kiran, who makes her living as a sweeper in a from the shock of losing perhaps the only security you
have prevented us from getting into huge deficits on small town in the northern Indian state of Punjab, the have in a country where economic security for women is
In a nutshell: one side, and huge surpluses on another. I don’t say it current financial crisis means little. Life will still remain both precious and rare.
Introduce a New Green Deal to kick-start would have prevented the financial crisis, but certainly precarious, her regular income paltry, and someone or A less obvious, but much more serious implication
the economy, create employment and tackle if we had had different organizations emerging from the the other in the family – usually her – will always be is what this will mean for women’s equality. One of the
climate change Havana Charter in 1947, the whole trading and financial partially hungry. But for her daughter, Seema, even already unreached Millennium Development Goals,
systems would have been infinitely different. though she’s probably never heard of the Lehman equality, according to a recent World Bank and OECD
Susan George is Chair of the Board of the Transnational brothers or American banks, there’s the very real threat study, needs an investment of roughly $13 billion a year
Institute. Her latest books are Hijacking America: How of losing her job in a business processing centre if the to be achievable. It’s no secret that in times of financial
the religious and secular right changed what Americans parent company decides to cut back on its outsourcing. belt-tightening, the first things to suffer are what are
FINANCE think, and We, the peoples of Europe. She doesn’t know if this will happen, but she’s heard seen as ‘social’ issues (under which rubric things such as
Everyone now agrees on control. Everyone agrees on the it might, and she may then find it difficult to locate health, education, and certainly equality usually come).
need for regulation. Who does it, and how, is something In a nutshell: another job. Not only is it very likely that the $13 billion will not
progressive people should get involved in, because that is Push for international taxation; direct the In some ways, the panic about the financial meltdown now be so easily forthcoming, but governments too will
going to be the debate. lending of nationalized banks; a massive is very, very far away from the lives of poor women in in all probability use the excuse of the financial crisis to
At present, all regulation stops at national borders. public spending plan India. It’s true that the danger signals are there for all to make cutbacks.
So I think this is also an opportunity to push for see: increasingly, as our economies are linked to the US, So while Kiran may not feel the impact in the way
international taxation and regulation, such as by that Seema might, what is certain is that, somewhere
closing tax havens and taxing financial transactions and along the way, any improvements that have taken
currency speculation. Tax havens, if regulated – and place in the conditions of their lives are likely to be
by that I mean closed down – would give governments GLOBALIZATION under threat. And this is why it is so important for
upwards of an extra $250 billion to play with. So they The crisis presents an opportunity for reorienting governments to focus not only on money, but also on

renewable Unitary
can’t use the excuse that there aren’t enough funds to economies away from global markets and global those absolutely basic, but difficult-to-grasp things that
commodity chains and towards local and regional
invest in social security or give allocations to poor people underlie its movement across the world: the status and

energies Profits Tax


or educate children or keep the health system ticking markets and production. Globalization’s final well-being of people, particularly those on the margins
over during this financial crisis. The money is there. indictment is the synchronized downturn now of society.
Then it could be an opportunity – but this would
take much more effort on the part of progressive people
facing the world, because so many economies have
become integrated and dependent on one another. nationalized Urvashi Butalia
is a Delhi-based writer and feminist publisher.
Many people will have to suffer for the sins of neoliberalism and the
We are, hopefully, going to enter the age of
deglobalization.
Many people will have to suffer for the
banks In a nutshell:
élite; millions throughout the world will lose their jobs and livelihoods sins of neoliberalism and the élite; millions Don’t cut aid; focus on people
throughout the world will lose their jobs massive public
– to encourage taxes beyond national borders, on
currency transactions, purchases of stocks, bonds and
and livelihoods. We must have something like the
International Criminal Court to try people, like Alan spending people’s Campaigns, contacts and resources
other financial instruments. Transnational corporations Greenspan, whose actions create widespread misery
ought to have to pay taxes on earnings in each
jurisdiction, so that it can be seen what they pay where.
and chaos. A petty swindler goes to jail for years, but
an intellectual swindler remains scot-free.
participation Bretton Woods Project www. brettonwoodsproject.org
Focus on the Global South www.focusweb.org
The Transnational Institute www.tni.org
That should be the beginning of what we call a Unitary The International Monetary Fund and World Halifax Initiative Coalition www.halifaxinitiative.org
Profits Tax. If transnational corporations sold half their Bank have been thoroughly discredited by the central
goods in France, then they should have to pay half their role they played in promoting neoliberalism and
micro-credit Jubilee Debt Campaign www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk
Third World Network www.twnside.org.sg
tax in France. That’s the idea of the Unitary Profits Tax. globalization. But now in panic, some countries, like
I think we would have to think seriously about the Pakistan and Ukraine, are going to the Fund. The US
groups The Corner House www.thecornerhouse.org.uk
IFI Watch www.ifiwatchnet.org
South – that’s the point of the New Internationalist
– because remittances are probably going to dry up
quite a lot. Immigrants will be the first people hit. We
and some European countries are now talking about
a ‘Bretton Woods II’ that would place the Fund and
the World Bank at the centre of efforts to deal with
deglobalization War on Want www.waronwant.org
Eurodad www.eurodad.org
Choike www.choike.org
have to make a big investment in the environment, to the financial crisis as dispensers of emergency capital Tax Justice Network www.taxjustice.net
fund a conversion – a rapid and profound conversion to developing countries. Even otherwise progressive New Economics Foundation www.neweconomics.org
away from fossil fuels. And the banks have to be made people like the economist Dani Rodrik are talking Attac http://attac.se/kampanjer/3503/the-time-has-come-
to contribute. The thing that is so disgraceful about about placing the IMF at the centre of the firefighting. lets-shut-down-the-financial-casino

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T H E B E I J I N G D E C L A R AT I O N

An historic opportuni ty for transformation


A t the recentAsia-Europe People’s Forum meeting
in Beijing, the Transnational Institute and Focus
on the Global South convened informal nightly
meetings to take stock of the unfolding global economic
crisis. Participants discussed the opportunity it presented
PUBLIC SPENDING AND INVESTMENT
• Radically reduce military spending
• Redirect government spending from bailing out bankers to
guaranteeing basic incomes and social security, and providing
ENVIRONMENT
• Introduce a global system of compensation for countries which do
not exploit fossil fuel reserves in the global interests of limiting
effects on the climate, such as Ecuador has proposed
universally accessible basic social services such as housing, • Pay reparations to Southern countries for the ecological
social movements to put into the public domain some of the water, electricity, health, education, childcare, and access to destruction wrought by the North to assist peoples of the South to
inspiring and feasible alternatives many had been working on the internet and other public communications facilities deal with climate change and other environmental crises
for decades. • Use citizen funds (see above) to support very poor • Strictly implement the ‘precautionary principle’ of the UN
This – the ‘Beijing Declaration’ – is what came out of communities Declaration on the Right to Development as a condition for all
those meetings of individuals, social ements and NGOs • Ensure that people at risk of losing their homes due to defaults developmental and environmental projects
from Asia and Europe. It’s a start – a contribution around on mortgages caused by the crisis are offered renegotiated • End lending for projects under the Kyoto Protocol’s ‘Clean
which to formulate proposals and to create a basis for a terms of payment Development Mechanism’ that are environmentally destructive,
radically different kind of political and economic order. • Stop privatizations of public services such as monoculture plantations of eucalyptus, soya and palm oil
The alternatives listed below are practical and feasible and • Establish public enterprises under the control of parliaments, • Stop the development of carbon trading and other environmentally
they put the well-being of people and the planet at their centre. local communities and/or workers to increase employment counter-productive techno-fixes, such as carbon capture and
• Improve the performance of public enterprises through sequestration, agrofuels, nuclear power and ‘clean coal’ technology
democratizing management – encourage public service • Adopt strategies to radically reduce consumption in the rich
FINANCE managers, staff, unions and consumer organizations to countries, while promoting sustainable development in poorer
• Introduce full-scale socialization of banks, not just collaborate to this end countries
nationalization of bad assets • Introduce participatory budgeting over public finances at all • Introduce democratic management of all international funding
• Create people-based banking institutions and strengthen feasible levels mechanisms for climate change mitigation, with strong
existing popular forms of lending based on mutuality and • Invest massively in improved energy efficiency, low participation from Southern countries and civil society
solidarity carbon emitting public transport, renewable energy and
• Institutionalize full transparency within the financial system environmental repair
through the opening of the books to the public, to be facilitated • Control or subsidize the prices of basic commodities
by citizen and worker organizations AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY
• Introduce parliamentary and citizens’ oversight of the existing • Phase out the pernicious paradigm of industry-led development,
banking system where the rural sector is squeezed to provide the resources
• Apply social (including labour conditions) and environmental
INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND FINANCE necessary to support industrialization and urbanization
• Introduce a permanent global ban on short-selling of stocks • Promote agricultural strategies aimed at achieving food security,
criteria to all lending, including for business purposes and shares
• Prioritize lending, at minimum rates of interest, to meet social food sovereignty and sustainable farming
• Ban on trade in derivatives • Promote land reforms and other measures which support
and environmental needs and to expand the already growing • Ban all speculation on staple food commodities
social economy small-holder agriculture and sustain peasant and indigenous
• Cancel the debt of all developing countries – debt is mounting communities
• Overhaul central banks in line with democratically determined as the crisis causes the value of Southern currencies to fall
social, environmental and expansionary (to counter the • Stop the spread of socially and environmentally destructive mono-
• Support the United Nations’ call to be involved in discussions cultural enterprises
recession) objectives, and make them publicly accountable about how to resolve the crisis, which is going to have a much
institutions • Stop labour law reforms aimed at extending hours of work and
bigger impact on Southern economies than is currently being making it easier for employers to fire or retrench workers
• Safeguard migrant remittances to their families and introduce acknowledged • Secure jobs through outlawing precarious low paid work

JAMES ENDICOTT / CORBIS


legislation to restrict charges and taxes on transfers • Phase out the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and • Guarantee equal pay for equal work for women – as a basic
World Trade Organization principle and to help counter the coming recession by increasing
• Phase out the US dollar as the international reserve currency workers’ capacity to consume
TAXATION • Establish a people’s inquiry into the mechanisms necessary for • Protect the rights of migrant workers in the event of job losses,
• Close all tax havens a just international monetary system ensuring their safe return to and reintegration into their home
• End tax breaks for fossil fuel and nuclear energy companies • Ensure aid transfers do not fall as a result of the crisis countries. For those who cannot return, there should be no forced
• Apply stringent progressive tax systems • Abolish tied aid return, their security should be guaranteed, and they should be
• Introduce a global taxation system to prevent transfer pricing • Abolish neoliberal aid conditionalities provided with employment or a basic minimum income
and tax evasion • Phase out the paradigm of export-led development, and
• Introduce a levy on nationalized bank profits with which to refocus sustainable development on production for the local
establish citizen investment funds (see below) and regional market
• Impose stringent progressive carbon taxes on those with the • Introduce incentives for products produced for sale closest to
The authors and signatories of the Beijing Declaration say:
biggest carbon footprints the local market
‘We have written what we see as a living document to be
• Adopt controls, such as Tobin taxes, on the movements of • Cancel all negotiations for bilateral free trade and economic
developed and enriched by us all. A future occasion to come
speculative capital partnership agreements
together to work on the actions needed to make these ideas and
• Reintroduce tariffs and duties on imports of luxury goods and • Promote regional economic co-operation arrangements,
others a reality will be the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil
other goods already produced locally as a means of increasing such as UNASUR, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas
at the end of January 2009. We have the experience and the
the state’s fiscal base, as well as a means to support local (ALBA), the Trade Treaty of the Peoples and others, that
ideas – let’s meet the challenge of the present ruling disorder
production and thereby reduce carbon emissions globally encourage genuine development and an end to poverty
and keep the momentum towards an alternative rolling!’
For more see: http://casinocrash.org

30    N ew I nternationalist DECEMBER 2008 www.newint.org www.newint.org N ew I nternationalist   D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 8    31


Making Waves
Interview
about

The

Boardgame
Sitting on the couch watching TV, you hear the where retailers have refused to take it. Says Andy Tompkins: ‘The
news that your country is about to invade another. Horror and big one was Virgin MegaStores. We got on to the right person
amazement mixes with frustration as you realize how absolutely there straight away. He said: “It sounds brilliant. We’ve got our
powerless you are to stop it. ‘Hang on a minute,’ said Andy Sheerin Christmas-stocking meeting in a couple of days. Can you send us
to Andy Tompkins as they watched the lead-up to the 2003 US a game and a PowerPoint presentation?” He told us to include a
invasion of Iraq. ‘Let’s make a game of it.’ And so War on Terror – bit about market share, but we didn’t even know what that was.
The Boardgame was born. Instead, our PowerPoint presentation had rapid-fire gunshots
Holding a mirror to the Middle East, the game is all about with Country Joe and the Fish singing [their song lampooning the
empire. You start with an empire, develop it, fight other empires Vietnam War] “ain’t no time to wonder why. Whoopee! We’re all
and liberate countries from their clutches. The more oil you have in gonna die”.’
the boardgame, the more money you make. The more money you To the TerrorBulls’ great surprise, Virgin MegaStores ordered
make, the more countries you can exploit and control. And if you 5,000 games. ‘They got the first 2,000 and distributed them to
don’t like the rate at which your empire is expanding, then you can 230 stores. But on the first day, a managing director saw it, and
always buy terrorists, or turn terrorist yourself. cancelled the contract. We had borrowed money to get them made.
People love the viciousness of it, say the game’s two inventors. We were stuck with 3,000 games. We hadn’t been paid for any of
They’ve formed their own company, TerrorBulls. According to it. If it wasn’t for the kindness of an investor, we would have gone
Andy Sheerin: ‘Bill Gilman, a liberal leftie in the States, organized bankrupt.’
a War on Terror tournament. Gilman says: “I’m a big fan of this An eight-month legal tussle followed, which ended with the
game as it allows me to feel what George Bush feels in the War TerrorBulls being paid in full. And the fate of the 3,000 games? ‘Since
on Terror – rewarding short-sighted policies by giving profits for Virgin (now operating as Zavvi) had paid for the games we thought
oil and development, even though these aims may help bring an it would be a nice gesture to hand them out in front of their flagship
empire down.”’ store. There was a queue
Spin the ‘axis of evil’ to decide Making a game of it: around the corner when we
whose empire gets special engaging in the War arrived. As we handed out a
privileges or terrorist tricks. That on Terror. hundred of them, the crowd

I m a g e s : w w w. w a r o n t e r r o r t h e b o a r d g a m e . c o m
player then wears a black balaclava cheered: “Thanks Zavvi!”’
with the word EVIL sewn in red The TerrorBulls have three
on the forehead. ‘People buy the more games in development:
game just for the balaclava. Not ‘You really can use boardgames
the police from Kent, England, to explore very complex issues.
though. [In August this year they They are a fertile field for
confiscated the boardgame from satirical ambitions.’
protesters at a climate change And good fun. But can
camp.] The police said that it could they shift political debate and
be used to conceal your identity public understanding? Andy
Southern of the huge sculpture of the head of José Martí, our national symbol of during a criminal act. Our balaclava Sheerin thinks so: ‘The more
Exposure independence. The eyes appeared to be blinded so as not to see what
was being done to Cuba, so I quickly took two snaps. A soldier spotted
actually labels the evil-doers. The
police should thank us!’
important terrorism became,
the more taboo it became to
Highlighting the work of artists and me and asked what I was doing. Knowing the political power of the The two Andys – friends from talk it about it critically. We
image, I replied that Martí seemed to be well looked after, and ran off. school who had run a website company together – invented and wanted to challenge people’s opinion about what terrorism is. As
photographers from the Majority World Back at the magazine my boss said there was no way we could publish designed the game, and invited Tom Morgan-Jones into their soon as you are able to start talking about what defines terrorism
the image – it was not published until 10 years later.’ TerrorBull team to help publish and illustrate it. So far over 12,000 and why terrorists do what they do, then that’s thought-provoking –
In January 1959 Cuban people celebrated the triumph of their games have been sold. While the main market is in North America it reopens the ground for debate. Day to day, many more people are
‘José Martí 1958’ revolution after a long struggle. Despite the relentless economic and Europe, it is now sold in 38 countries globally. There’s even the becoming more savvy to the political rhetoric. That gives me hope.’
Photographer Ernesto Fernandez documented the epic events in blockade by the United States, the last 50 years have brought incredible odd order from Iraq and Afghanistan where some serving soldiers
revolutionary Cuba during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Of this photo, achievements for a developing country. To mark the 50th anniversary of are playing the game, including British battlefield trainer Major
he says: the revolution, the best of Cuban arts and culture will be celebrated in Tom Mouat: ‘It is part of my job to be on the look-out for novel, Andy Tompkins and Andy Sheerin
‘I was only 18 in 1958, working for a magazine in Havana. As I hadn’t Britain throughout 2009: www.Cuba50.org
been to college I was only allowed to get one photo piece published
insightful, informed and up-to-date simulations that could help in spoke with Chris Richards
the training of British soldiers. I have looked at the War on Terror
each month. It was a terrible time, living under the Batista dictatorship More of Ernesto’s work can be seen at www.capitalculture.eu and can safely say that it is pretty useless for any sort of military
– there was so much we could not publish for fear of reprisals. I was With thanks to the Cuba Solidarity Campaign training. It is, however, a damn good game.’
in the plaza that later became Revolution Square when I caught sight www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk But its popularity has not hit Britain’s main shopping streets Available from the NI at: http://shop.newint.org

32    N e w I n t e r n a t i o n a l i s t    D E C E M B ER 2 0 0 8 N e w I n t e r n a t i o n a l i s t    D E C E M B ER 2 0 0 8    33
Mixed Media
mixedmedia @ newint.org

The Baader
Meinhof Complex
written and produced by Bernd
Gomidas Songs

Music
by Isabel Bayrakdarian (Nonesuch 075597991055 CD)
In the closing years of the Ottoman Empire, Gomidas Vartabed, a priest and composer, set out across his native
Armenia – then a Turkish territory – to notate the music of his land. His interest alighted on all musics – sacred
songs and liturgies, lullabies and folk songs. Gomidas’ work was timely. Within decades, millions of Armenians
would be murdered in a Turkish-led genocide. Gomidas himself only survived through the intervention of the US
ambassador and some Turkish friends; in 1919 he left Turkey for Paris, where he eventually died in an asylum.
It was during the recording of the soundtrack to Atom Egoyan’s film Ararat that the Armenian-Canadian
operatic soprano, Isabel Bayrakdarian, first came to record some of Gomidas’ music. With pianist (and
husband) Serouj Kradjian, Bayrakdarian travelled to Armenia to record the 20 songs that would make up the
Eichinger, directed by Uli Edel selection on Gomidas Songs. Accompanied by the Chamber Players of the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra,
(150 minutes) Bayrakdarian conjures up a luminous setting for her music. Kradjian’s arrangements avoid clutter, and a
Eichinger’s last film, Downfall, showed smattering of local instruments allay any anxieties about Bayrakdarian’s classically inspired interpretations.
Hitler as ruthless – but idealistic. It Certainly some of these songs may have once been heard over fields and cradles rather than concert halls, but
took flak for humanizing a monster their translation from private to public music is a beautiful one.
but it made fascism very real, and ★★★★ LG
its emergence believable, a thing www.nonesuch.com
of this world, rather than some
A Most Wanted Man

Music
Film
maniacal ahistorical virus. His latest
film, similarly, without posturing, Deserted Villages by John le Carré
humanizes a ruthless and idealistic by George Dalaras (Tropical Music/Universal Music (Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 9780340977064)
political movement. Greece 68 865 CD) When the Cold War ended, many critics wondered whether its chronicler-
The point of view is objective, Born in Piraeus in 1949, the son of a rembetika in-chief John le Carré had lost his subject matter. In a series of novels,
narrowed almost exclusively to musician, George Dalaras could not have come from The Constant Gardener, Absolute Friends and The Mission Song, he has
the experience of the Baader any place closer to the crucible of Greek rembetika confounded the sceptics by focusing his consummate writing skills on
Meinhof leadership. We follow how than this Athenian port. And even if the pungent laying bare the iniquities of the international politico-corporate structure
their ideas shift as the student flavours of rembetika – its earliest lyrics dealt with – from the illegal invasion of Iraq to the murderous amorality of Big
movement, radicalized by the scoring drugs, getting stoned and the inevitable Pharma. His latest novel could hardly be more topical or timely, dealing

Books
Vietnam War and the US Civil Rights visits to prison – had been toned down by the time as it does with the seamier reaches of international banking and the
movement, encounters the hardline that Dalaras was old enough to pick up a baglama (a nether-world inhabited by the fugitive and the stateless.
authoritarianism of the West German Ruthless idealism
little lute, typical of the genre), there was still plenty An unlikely trio of characters find themselves thrown together; Issa, a Chechen Muslim arrives
state. The point is not to win audience Baader Meinhof style. of life left in the music. illegally in Hamburg. There he seeks the aid of Annabel, an idealistic human rights lawyer and,
sympathy, but understanding. At a key Rembetika has had an interesting history in with her help, he lays claim to a huge sum deposited with Brue Freres, a private bank run by
moment, Ulrike Meinhof, until then a Greece: reviled, rediscovered and reinterpreted. Tommy Brue, an Englishman beset with marital and financial complications. Issa, Annabel and
sympathetic journalist, flees through Waltz With Bashir Dalaras is certainly one of its modern advocates. Tommy are inexorably drawn into the webs of the competing spy networks of Germany, Britain
an open window after members of written, produced and directed by Ari Folman (87 minutes) Deserted Villages is an album that follows in the and the US as each attempts to use their ‘assets’ in the deep and morally ambiguous game they
the Red Army Faction. The camera Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman’s latest is an animated docudrama in which the director and his footsteps of tributes to Mikis Theodorakis and an are pleased to call The War on Terror.
stays fixed on the window, through friends play key roles. One night, in a bar, a friend tells Folman about a recurring dream in entire album dedicated to the work of an original A Most Wanted Man is a page-turner in the classic style; the only fault being that the
which they’ve all passed the point of which 26 vicious dogs are chasing him. The two rembetis, Markos Vamvakaris. Made in tandem with characters are slightly underdrawn and prone to expository soliloquies. Nevertheless, this is
no return. From then, taking up arms, decide that the dream is connected to Israel’s war the Albanian accordionist/composer Dasho Kurti, another splendid example of late-flowering le Carré. Long may he continue to skewer those who
they’re underground, losing touch with with Lebanon – in which they both served in the the 11 songs on Deserted Villages offer a broad claim to be acting in our name and in our best interests.
the socialist and student movements, 1980s. Eager to find out about his involvement palate, and not all of it mournful. ‘Erima Choria’ ★★★★ PW
more and more isolated, fighting a in a conflict of which he has little recollection, (‘Deserted Villages’) opens the album with wide, www.hodder.co.uk
private war.  Folman seeks out fellow former recruits and lingering accordion glances – one can feel the wind

Film
Belching Out the Devil

Books
It’s a stirring film, from the first sets their animated testimonies to real audio whip around the notes – before Dalaras’ lightly toned
graphic action scenes, showing police recordings. What follows is a personal and moving voice repopulates the village for a short space of by Mark Thomas (Ebury Press, ISBN 9780091922931)
attacking demonstrators, and it never study of selective memory, repressed feelings time. Dances are danced, a church bell tolls, and then There is a company which manufactures and distributes concentrated
flags, never seems staged. Johanna and the folly of war. This compelling film, with the song is consigned to memory as the musicians sugary syrup and the way it conducts its affairs is the subject of Mark
Wokalek is a brilliantly earnest and its vivid cartoon format and potent techno-rock- leap into virtuoso territory – the speed of ‘Fyllo sto Thomas’ enormously readable book. As Thomas explains, Coca-Cola
scary Gudrun Ensslin, and Bruno classical soundtrack, gives a fresh approach to Nero’ (‘A Leaf on the Water’) with guest vocals from does relatively little bottling of its product, preferring to outsource this
Ganz’s appearance is a nice homage to understanding the massacres that took place in Valbona Mema; or the slithering lines of ‘Ponos to a vast network of franchisees. Of course, Coca-Cola owns or part-
the great German cinema of the 1970s. Beirut in 1982. Nothing can prepare you for the Zontanos’ (‘A Living Pain’). However, it’s Kurti’s owns some of these companies and dictates production methods, and
★★★★★ ML shocking coup de théâtre with which the film ends. take on the traditional tune of ‘Deka Cheimones’ marketing, using its vast advertising budget to lodge its ‘brand image’
★★★★ ES (‘Ten Winters’) that really makes this album: stately, in the head of just about every individual on the planet. This business
Film
open-hearted and with a vocal line that stretches the model, as well as being highly profitable for Coca-Cola, means that it
chords to their limit, it’s glorious. can – and does – claim that it has no legal or ethical responsibility for
Low key, gripping and The Silence ★★★ LG its franchisees’ actions even when these result in pollution, illegality,
unsentimental – latest from
the Dardenne brothers. of Lorna www.tropical-music.com and damage to communities.
Mark Thomas has clocked up the air-miles to hear the stories of the
written and directed by Jean-
Pierre and Luc Dardenne people Coke’s publicity airbrushes out of its story. He listens to Indians, whose
(105 minutes)
CUBAN BIRTHDAY FEAST aquifers have been severely depleted by the Coke plant’s extraction of millions
The imminent 50th anniversary of the Revolution has produced a of litres of water; to Colombian trade unionists threatened by paramilitary death
Lorna, an Albanian working
feast for Cuba buffs and novices alike. There’s the comprehensive and squads. In Mexico City, he tracks down Raquel Chavez, a small shopkeeper who
in a Belgian laundry, needs
highly accessible Cuban Revolution Reader by Julio Garcia Luis, in a successfully challenged Coke’s mafia-like tactics in forcing out rival brands. In El
money to open a snack bar.
new expanded and updated version (Ocean Press, ISBN 978 1920 888 Salvador he obtains evidence of child labour in the fields surrounding the sugar
The first step is citizenship, so
893). Castro: The Declarations of Havana, is presented by Tariq Ali in mill, and in Turkey he hears how Coke used the police to bust unions.
she marries a very sick heroin
Verso’s handy pocket book Revolutions series (ISBN 13 978 1 84467 Coca-Cola’s response to Thomas was
addict who no-one expects to
Win a CD!
156). For graphic novel fans there’s Spain Rodriguez’s Che: a graphic couched in lawyerly evasions and corporate
live very long. Then she plans
biography (Verso, 978 1 84467 168 7). While for film lovers, there’s double-speak, graphically illustrating big
to marry again, for money.
a DVD release of the 1968 classic Memories of Underdevelopment business’s ability to omit from their actual and When was Gomidas born?
It all goes awry when Lorna
by Cuban filmmaker Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. Set in the early days of moral balance-sheets the environmental and The first two correct answers
can’t be as mercenary as the
the Revolution, this complex film centres on Sergio, a bourgeois social damage they leave in their wake. Read pulled out of the hat will win a
gangster who’s arranging her
intellectual who has chosen to remain on the island while most of this book, and then think about how little not copy of Isabel Bayrakdarian’s
second marriage expects. Gomidas Songs (reviewed above).
his family and friends have left for the US. Intriguing, meditative – buying and drinking that bottle of Coke would
Rooted in time, place Email your answer, with your
and shot in full glorious black-and-white, spliced with documentary impact on your life.
and social class, as all the name and postal address, to:
footage – it supplies food for thought and no easy answers. ★★★★ PW
Dardennes’ films are, this is vanessab@newint.org
an unsentimental, low-key www.rbooks.co.uk
and gripping drama that
Reviews editor: Vanessa Baird email: vanessab@newint.org Star rating
doesn’t let go. excellent ★★★★★ very good ★★★★ good ★★★ fair ★★ poor ★
★★★★ ML Reviewers: Louise Gray, Malcolm Lewis, Ed Stocker, Peter Whittaker

30    N e w I n t e r n a t i o n a l i s t    D E C E M B ER 2 0 0 8 www.newint.org www.newint.org N e w I n t e r n a t i o n a l i s t    D E C E M B ER 2 0 0 8    35
NI Prize Crossword
26 Returned anagram; no good when 24 Famous Highland Gathering site in the
one's in 1d islands (7) Scottish Grampians (7)
27 Balkan country, initially British- 25 Dominant region of Asia Minor before
137 by AXE occupied Serbia, now is Albanian (6) the Roman conquests (6)
26 ------- Trench, the world's deepest (7)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Down 27 Balkan country, popularly, capital
1 Movement of ice cap, Inca in the Sarajevo (6)
main... (7,5)
2 ...Inca's norm is to unsettle Down
8 9 islanders (9) 1 Earth's largest body of water (7,5)
3 America, as in fascist pre-Pueblo 2 Inhabitants of one of the Balearic
10 11 culture (7) Islands (either spelling) (9)
5 Decline in American tourist resort is a 3 'Basket weaving' pre-Pueblo SW US
12 13 spectacular thing (7,5) culture (7)
6 Shikoku port where I am opening up a 5 Natural phenomenon, divided by Goat
first class pub (7) Island into the 'Horseshoe' and the
7 A firm lead is given by church in an 'American' (7,5)
14 15 16
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10 Write a number sequence for the rises to Honshu (7)
in England (7,5) 7 Province of N Argentina, capital
11 Dismantle SAS grenade at a Libyan Resistencia (5)
border area (5,4,3) 10 Range of hills forming the 'backbone'
17 18 19 20 16 Laurel sounds a bit cheesy, putting it of England (7,5)
over a troubled region near the 17 (9) 11 Section of the Sahara Desert
18 Perhaps it's the Jewish character to straddling the Libyan-Egyptian border
behead the former prime minister (7) (5,4,3)
21 22 23 20 Chesil Beach, for instance, is 16 Region incorporating the Zagros and
low among spectacles after the Taurus mountains and five national
sarcophagus (7) borders (9)
22 Clean up to a degree an old Asian 18 Citizen of a troubled country created
24 25 road (5) in 1948 (7)
20 Bar or spit consisting of sand or
STRAIGHT shingle which links an island to the
Across mainland (7)
1 The 'prairies' of Argentina (6) 22 Authoritarian Asian country difficult
26 27
4 One of two Biblical cities, one in Pisidia to access by aid workers after the
the other in Syria, sharing the same cyclone of May 2008 (5)
name (7)
Win a Special Map Set – laminated the fruit line... (7)
Peters’ Map, Peters’ Atlas, Seeing 12 ...RAF zealot's mistaken for Brazilian
8 French department, capital
Aurillac (6)
Last month’s solution
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standard 5 Decline
of the Maps plus DVD... All correct
in American Jewish character to
13 A pretty dull flower from the
9 One of the world's largest 1
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branches of the Araguaia in B A Y S W A T E R G O L A N
here (7)cover month will be putspectacular
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though only the winner will be notified.
(7,5) being African (7) 12 Brazilian port and resort, 10 11
AncientPost
Black Sea
to: NI Crossword, 55 Rectory 15 L Nasser20island,
Chesil Beach,
as seen fromfor capital of Ceara state (9)
L E R I D A T A H I T I A N
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R A B B A H
nicrossword@newint.org 17 The sea is part of Lewis' unique
Winner for 135: R S first class pub (7) after the is N'Djamena (7) A A H P R
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in 1dCRYPTIC
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by church in an 21 Coast from Clean up to a degree
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17 Sea, the world's largest 20 21 22 23
Across Argentinian the heart of an old Asian
Bamberg (5) road N I C A E A O K A N A G A N
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province
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23 Guts are needed 19 Mountains of NE Portugal (7) 24 B L N K M B
initially with
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second place in Argentina (6) one a S American (9) 25 26
21 Coast of the Dominican M A L A Y S I A A Z A N I A
occupied
4 Against old church's10
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fossil resin found there (5) 27 28
8 French department involvedrisesinin England here (7) 23 S American whose capital S A B A H A S S Y R I A N S
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...Inca's norm is to
cheesy, putting it
unsettle islanders (9)
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America, as in region near the 17
fascist pre-Pueblo (9)
culture (7)
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36     N e w I n t e r n a t i o n a l i s t    D E C E M B ER 2 0 0 8

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