PAN North America
2 Feb 2011
At the annual World Economic Forum this past weekend in Davos, Switzerland, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Director Rajiv Shah stood beside CEOs from Monsanto and other infamous giant corporations, and announced U.S. support for a "New Vision for Agriculture."
Yes, you should be worried.
Claiming that "large-scale private sector partnerships [can] achieve significant impact on global hunger and nutrition," Shah introduced the initiative's 17 agribusiness "champions": Archer Daniels Midland, BASF, Bunge Limited, Cargill, Coca-Cola, DuPont, General Mills, Kraft Foods, Metro AG, Monsanto Company, Nestle, PepsiCo, SABMiller, Syngenta, Unilever, Wal-Mart, and Yara International.
What!?! Are you kidding me? Most of these agribusiness giants could be listed in an edition of Who's Who in Environmental Destruction, Hunger and Human Rights Violations. A few minutes' of investigation on GRAIN, CorpWatch, Food & Water Watch or PAN's chemical cartel page will prove this point.
Feeding the corporations
The plan, USAID tells us, is for the U.S. to leverage private sector investments for agricultural "growth," using our taxpayer dollars through Obama's Feed the Future initiative. Back in September, I wrote about the corporate Trojan Horse lurking within Feed the Future. There's always been some green window dressing scattered throughout the plan, claiming that the initiative will follow Southern country priorities, support gender equity, respect local and Indigenous knowledge, etc.
Back then, Rajiv Shah & Co. were making only thinly veiled references to the Initiative's plan to "discover" and "deliver breakthrough technologies" (guess whose) to poor hapless farmers in the global South.
Now, however, USAID has abandoned all pretenses of respecting a people's agenda, and baldly acknowledges that large-scale private sector partnerships with some of the world's worst corporate actors lies at the core of Feed the Future. We are given the example of Feed the Future's project in Tanzania, where an "investment blueprint" to establish "profitable, modern commercial farming and agribusiness" and designed to last for "years to come" has been set up with Monsanto, Syngenta, Yara and General Mills, among other multinational corporations. USAID "hopes to expand the blueprint in the future to at least five additional African countries."