Reviewing F. William Engdahl’s “Seeds of Destruction” – by Stephen Lendman (Part II)
William Engdahl’s book is a diabolical account of how four Anglo-American agribusiness giants plan world domination by patenting life forms to gain worldwide control of our food supply and our lives. This review is in three in-depth parts. Part I was published and is available on this web site. Part II follows below.
Washington Launches the GMO Revolution
The roots of the story go back decades, but Engdahl explains the science of “biological and genetic-modification of plants and other life forms first” came out of US research labs in the 1970s when no one noticed. They soon would because the Reagan administration was determined to make America dominant in this emerging field. The biotech agribusiness industry was especially favored, and companies in the early 1980s raced to develop GMO plants, livestock and GMO-based animal drugs. Washington made it easy for them with an unregulated, business-friendly climate that persisted ever since under Republicans and Democrats alike.
Food safety and public health issues aren’t considered vital if they conflict with profits. So the entire population is being used as lab rats for these completely new, untested and potentially hazardous products. And leading the effort to develop them is a company with a “long record of fraud, cover-up, bribery,” deceit and disdain for the public interest – Monsanto.
Its first product was saccharin that was later proved to be a carcinogen. It then got into chemicals, plastics and became notorious for Agent Orange that was used to defoliate Vietnam jungles in the 1960s and 1970s and exposed hundreds of thousands of civilians and US troops to deadly dioxin, one of the most toxic of all known compounds.
Along with others in the industry, Monsanto is also a shameless polluter. It has a history of secretly dumping some of the most lethal substances known in water and soil and getting away with it. Today on its web site, however, the company ignores its record and calls itself “an agricultural company (applying) innovation and technology to help farmers around the world be successful, produce healthier foods, better animal feeds and more fiber, while also reducing agriculture’s impact on our environment.” Engdahl proves otherwise in his thorough research that’s covered below in detail.
In spite of its past, Monsanto and other GMO giants got unregulated free rein in the 1980s and especially after George HW Bush became president in 1989. His administration opened “Pandora’s Box” so no “unnecessary regulations would hamper them. Thereafter, “not one single new regulatory law governing biotech or GMO products was passed then or later (despite all the) unknown risks and possible health dangers.”
In a totally unfettered marketplace, foxes now guard the henhouse because the system was made self-regulatory. An elder Bush Executive Order assured it. It ruled GMO plants and foods were “substantially equivalent” to ordinary ones of the same variety like corn, wheat or rice. This established the principle of “substantial equivalence” as the “lynchpin of the whole GMO revolution.” It was pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo, but was now law, and Engdahl equated it to a potential biologically catastrophic “Andromeda Strain,” no longer the world of science fiction.
Monsanto chose milk as its first GMO product, genetically manipulated it with recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), and marketed it under the trade name, Posilac. In 1993, the Clinton FDA declared it safe and approved it for sale before any consumer use information was available. It’s now sold in every state and promoted as a way cows can produce up to 30% more milk. Problems, however, soon appeared. Farmers reported their stock burned out up to two years sooner than usual, serious infections developed, and some animals couldn’t walk. Other problems included the udder inflammation mastitis as well as deformed calves being born.
The information was suppressed, and rBGH milk is unlabeled so there’s no way consumers can know. They also weren’t told this hormone causes leukemia and tumors in rats, and a European Commission committee concluded humans drinking rBGH milk risk breast and prostate cancer. The EU thus banned the product, but not the US. Despite clear safety issues, the FDA failed to act and allows hazardous milk to be sold below the radar. It was just the beginning.
The Fox Guards the Henhouse
Engdahl reviewed the Pusztai affair, the toll it took on his health, and the modest vindication he finally got. Already out of a job, the 300-year old British Royal Society attacked him in 1999 and claimed his research was “flawed in many aspects of design, execution and analysis and that no conclusions should be drawn from it.” It was another blow to a distinguished man who deserved better than what Engdahl called a “recognizable political smear” that also tarnished the Royal Society’s credibility for making it. It had no basis in fact and was done because Pusztai’s bombshell threatened to derail Britain’s hugely profitable GMO industry and do the same thing to its US counterpart.
As for Pusztai, after five years, several heart attacks, and a ruined career, he finally learned what happened after he announced his findings. Monsanto was the culprit. The company complained to Clinton who, in turn, alerted Tony Blair. Pusztai’s findings had to be quashed and he discredited for making them. He was nonetheless able to reply with the help of the highly respected British scientific journal, The Lancet. In spite of Royal Society threats against him, it’s editor published his article, but at a cost. After publication, the Society and biotech industry attacked The Lancet for its action. It was a further shameless act.
As a footnote, Pusztai now lectures around the world on his GMO research and is a consultant to start-up groups researching the health effects of these foods. Along with him and his wife, his co-author, Professor Stanley Ewen, also suffered. He lost his position at the University of Aberdeen, and Engdahl notes that the practice of suppressing unwanted truths and punishing whistleblowers is the rule, not the exception. Industry demands are powerful, especially when they affect the bottom line.
The Blair government went even further. It commissioned the private firm, Grainseed, to conduct a three-year study to prove GMO food safety. London’s Observer newspaper later got UK Ministry of Agriculture documents on it that showed tests were rigged and produced “some strange science.” At least one Grainseed researcher manipulated the data to “make certain seeds in the trials appear to perform better than they really did.”
Nonetheless, the Ministry recommended a GMO corn variety be certified, and the Blair government issued a new code of conduct under which “any employee of a state-funded research institute who dared to speak out on (the) findings into GMO plants could face dismissal, be sued for breach of contract or face a court injunction.” In other words, whisleblowing was now illegal even if public health was at stake. Nothing would be allowed to stop the agribusiness juggernaut from proceeding unimpeded.
The Rockefeller Plan – “Tricky” Dick Nixon and Trickier Rockefellers
Richard Nixon took office at a time of national crisis. Along with the Vietnam morass, the economy was in trouble after the “golden age of capitalism” peaked in 1965 and corporate profits were declining. The globalization phenomenon began at this time when American companies and the nation’s wealthiest families found investing abroad more profitable than at home because more opportunities were available outside the country.
Food was one of them and was about to be renamed “agribusiness.” Engdahl called it “a paradigm shift” with one man having the most decisive role – former New York governor Nelson Rockefeller “who deeply wanted to be President” but had to settle for number two under Gerald Ford.
He and his brothers ran the family’s Rockefeller Foundation and various other tax-exempt entities like the Rockefeller Brothers Trust. Nelson and David were the most influential figures, and their power center was the exclusive New York Council on Foreign Relations. Engdahl states: “In the 1960s the Rockefellers were at the power center of the US establishment (and) Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (was) their hand-picked protege.” It was a marriage made in hell.
Enter the “crisis of democracy” or as right wing Harvard professor, Samuel Huntington, called it, an “excess of democracy” at a time masses of ordinary citizens protested their government’s policies. It captured media attention, posed a threat to the country’s establishment, and had to be addressed. In 1973 it was at a meeting of 300 influential, hand-picked Rockefeller friends from North America, Europe and Japan. They founded a powerful new organization called the Trilateral Commission with easily recognizable member names.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was its first Executive Director, and other charter members included Jimmy Carter (who became David Rockefeller’s favored 1976 presidential candidate over Gerald Ford), George HW Bush, Paul Volker (Carter’s Fed Chairman) and Alan Greenspan who was then a Wall Street investment banker.
The new organization “laid the basis for a new global strategy for a network of interlinked international elites,” many of whom were Rockefeller business partners. Combined, their financial, economic and political clout was unmatched. So was their ambition that George HW Bush later called a “new world order.” Trilateralists laid the foundation for today’s globalization. They also followed Huntington’s advice about democracy’s unreliability that had to be checked by “some measure of (public) apathy and non-involvement (combined with) secrecy and deception.”
The Commission further advocated privatizing public enterprises along with deregulating industry. Trilateralist Jimmy Carter embraced the dogma enthusiastically as President. He began the process that Ronald Reagan continued in the 1980s almost without noticing its originator or placing blame where it’s due.
In 1973, Nixon was in office with Kissinger his Svengali. One observer described him at the time as “like sludge out of a swamp without a spark of life….no soul, a slip of life, a kind of ghoul (and) a sort of lubricant (to keep the ship of state running).” So he did by “tak(ing) complete control (of) US foreign policy” as both Secretary of State and National Security Advisor. Further, he “was to make food a centerpiece of his diplomacy along with oil geopolitics.”
In the Cold War era, food became a strategic weapon by masquerading as “Food for Peace.” It was cover for US agriculture to engineer the transformation of family farming into global agribusiness with food the tool and small farmers eliminated so it could be used most effectively. World agriculture domination was to be “one of the central pillars of post-war Washington policy, along with (controlling) world oil markets and non-communist world defense sales.” The defining 1973 event was a world food crisis.
The shortage of grain staples along with the first of two 1970s oil shocks advanced a “significant new Washington policy turn.” Oil and grains were rising three to fourfold in price when the US was the world’s largest food surplus producer with the most power over prices and supply. It was an ideal time for a new alliance between US-based grain trading companies and the government. It “laid the groundwork for the later gene revolution.”
Enter what Engdahl called the “great train robbery” with Kissinger the culprit. He decided US agriculture policy was “too important to be left in the hands of the Agriculture Department” so he took control of it himself. The world desperately needed grain, America had the greatest supply, and the scheme was to use this power to “radically change world food markets and food trade.” The big winners were grain traders like Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Continental Grain that were helped by Kissinger’s “new food diplomacy (to create) a global agriculture market for the first time.” Food would “reward friends and punish enemies,” and ties between Washington and business lay at the heart of the strategy.
The global food market was being reorganized, corporate interests were favored, political advantage was exploited, and the 1990s “gene revolution” groundwork was laid. Rockefeller interests and its Foundation were to play the decisive role as events unfolded over the next two decades. It began under Nixon as the cornerstone of his farm policy, free trade was the mantra, corporate grain traders were the beneficiaries, and family farms had to go so agribusiness giants could take over.
Bankrupting them was the plan to remove an “excess (of) human resources.” Engdahl called it a “thinly veiled form of food imperialism” as part of a scheme for the US to become “the world granary.” The family farm was to become the “factory farm,” and agriculture was to be “agribusiness” to be dominated by a few corporate giants with incestuous ties to Washington.
Dollar devaluation was also part of the scheme under Nixon’s New Economic Plan (NEP) that included closing the gold window in 1971 to let the currency float freely. Developing nations were targeted as well with the idea that they forget about being food-sufficient in grains and beef, rely on America for key commodities, and concentrate instead on small fruits, sugar and vegetables for export. Earned foreign exchange could then buy US imports and repay IMF and World Bank loans that create a never-ending cycle of debt slavery. GATT was also used and later the WTO with corporate-written rules for their own bottom line interests.
A Secret National Security Memo
In the midst of a worldwide drought and stock market collapse, consider Henry Kissinger’s classified memo in April, 1974. It was on a secret project called National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200) that was shaped by Rockefeller interests and aimed to adopt a “world population plan of action” for drastic global population control – meaning to reduce it. The US led the effort, and it worked like this – it made birth control in developing countries a prerequisite for US aid. Engdahl summed it up in blunt terms: “if these inferior races get in the way of our securing ample, cheap raw materials, then we must find ways to get rid of them.”
Kissinger’s scheme was “simpler contraceptive methods through bio-medical research” that almost sounds like DuPont’s old slogan, “Better things for better living through chemistry.” Later on, DuPont dropped “through chemistry” as evidence mounted on their toxic effects and a changing company in 1999 began using “The Miracles of Science” in their advertising. The Nazis also aimed big and sought control. Population culling was part of it that for them was called “eugenics” and their scheme was to target “inferior” races to preserve the “superior” one.
NSSM 200 was along the same idea and was tied to the agribusiness agenda that began with the 1950s and 1960s “Green Revolution” to control food production in targeted Latin American, Asian and African countries. Kissinger’s plan had two aims – securing new US grain markets and population control with 13 “unlucky” countries chosen. Among them were India, Brazil, Nigeria, Mexico and Indonesia, and exploiting their resources depended on drastic population reductions to reduce homegrown demand.
The scheme was ugly and pure Kissinger. It recommended forced population control and other measures to ensure strategic US aims. Kissinger wanted global numbers reduced by 500 million by the year 2000 and argued for doubling the 10 million annual death rate to 20 million going forward. Engdahl called it “genocide” according to the strict definition of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide statute that defines this crime legally. Kissinger was guilty under it for wanting to withhold food aid to “people who can’t or won’t control their population growth.” In other words, if they won’t do it, we’ll do it for them.
The strategy included fertility control called “family planning” that was linked to the availability of key resources. The Rockefeller family backed it, Kissinger was their “hired hand,” and he was well-rewarded for his efforts. It included keeping him from being prosecuted where he’s wanted as a war criminal and could be arrested overseas like Pinochet was in the UK when he was placed under house arrest in 2006.
Besides his better-known crimes, consider what he did to poor Brazilian women through a policy of mass sterilization under NSSM 200. After 14 years of the program, the Brazilian Health Ministry discovered shocking reports of an estimated 44% of all Brazilian women between ages 14 and 55 permanently sterilized. Organizations like the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Family Health International were involved, and USAID directed the program. It has a long disturbing history backing US imperialism while claiming on its web site it extends “a helping hand to those people overseas struggling to make a better life, recover from a disaster or striving to live in a free and democratic country.”
Even more disturbing was an estimated 90% of Brazilian women of African descent sterilized in a nation with a black population second only to Nigeria’s. Powerful figures backed the scheme but none more influential than the Rockefellers with John D. III having the most clout on population policy. Nixon appointed him head of the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future in 1969. Its earlier work laid the ground for Kissinger’s NSSM 200 and its policy of extermination through subterfuge that was based on a “decades old effort to breed human traits” by the Nazi “Eugenics” process.
The Brotherhood of Death
Long before Kissinger (and his assistant Brent Scowcroft) made population reduction official US foreign policy, the Rockefellers were experimenting on humans. JD III led the effort. In the 1950s, while Nelson exploited cheap Puerto Rican labor in New York and on the island, brother JD III conducted mass sterilization experiments on their women. By the mid-1960s, Puerto Rico’s Public Health Department estimated the toll – one-third or more of them of child-bearing age (unsuspecting poor women) were permanently sterilized.
JD III expressed his views in a 1961 UN Food and Agriculture Organization lecture: “To my mind, population growth (and its reduction) is second only to control of atomic weapons as the paramount problem of the day.” He meant, of course, its unwanted parts to preserve valuable resources for the privileged. He was also influenced by eugenicists, race theorists and Malthusians at the Rockefeller Foundation who believed they had the right to decide who lives or dies.
Powerful figures were behind the effort as well as leading American business families. So were notables in the UK then and earlier like Winston Churchill, John Maynard Keynes and others. Alan Gregg was as well as Rockefeller Foundation Medical Division chief for 34 years. Consider his views. He said “people pollute, so eliminate pollution by eliminating (undesirable) people.” He compared city slums to cancerous tumors and called them “offensive to decency and beauty.” Better to remove them and cleanse the landscape.
This was policy, and it was “key to understanding (the Foundation’s later efforts) in the revolution in biotechnology and plant genetics.” Its mission from inception was to “(cull) the herd, or systematically (reduce) populations of ‘inferior breeds.’ ” The problem for supremacists is too many of a lesser element spells trouble when they demand more of what the privileged want for themselves. Solution – remove them with lots of ways to do it from birth control to sterilization to starvation to wars of extermination.
These ideas were American, they took root 100 years ago, noted names backed it like Rockefeller, Carnegie and Harriman, and they later influenced the Nazis. Hitler praised the practice in his 1924 book, “Mein Kampf,” then used it as Fuhrer to breed a “master race.” Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes also supported it, and consider his 1927 decision in Buck v. Bell. He ruled Virginia’s forced sterilization program was constitutional and wrote: “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime….society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind….Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” This from a noted Supreme Court Justice that would have horrific consequences still in play. It “opened the floodgates” for sterilizing many thousands of women considered “subhuman” detritus and in the way.
JD III was right in step with this thinking. He was nurtured on Malthusian pseudo-science and embraced the dogma. He joined the family Foundation in 1931 where he was influenced by eugenicists like Raymond Fosdick and Frederick Osborn. Both were founding members of the American Eugenics Society. In 1952, he used his own funds to found the New York-based Population Council in which he promoted studies on over-population dangers that were openly racist. For the next 25 years, the Council spent $173 million on global population reduction and became the world’s most influential organization promoting these supremacist ideas.
But it avoided the term “eugenics” because of its Nazi association and instead used language like birth control, family planning and free choice. It was all the same, and before the war Rockefeller associate and family Foundation board member, Frederick Osborn, enthusiastically supported Nazi eugenics experiments that led to mass exterminations now vilified. Back then, he believed this was the “most important experiment that has ever been tried” and later wrote a book. It was called “The Future of Human Heredity” with “eugenics” in the subtitle. It stated women could be convinced to reduce their births voluntarily and began substituting the term “genetics” for the one now out of favor.
During the Cold War, culling the population drew supporters that included the cream of corporate America. They backed private population reduction initiatives like Margaret Sanger’s International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). The major media also spread the notion that “over-population in developing countries leads to hunger and more poverty (which, in turn, becomes) the fertile breeding ground for” international communism. American agribusiness would later get involved through a policy of global food control. Food is power. When used to cull the population, it’s a weapon of mass destruction.
Consider the current situation with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reporting sharply higher food prices along with severe shortages, and warned this condition is extreme, unprecendented and threatens billions with hunger and starvation. Prices are up 40% this year after a 9% rise in 2006, and it forced developing states to pay 25% more for imported food and be unable to afford enough of it.
Various explanations for the problem are cited that include growing demand, higher fuel and transportation costs, commodity speculation, the use of corn for ethanol production (taking one-third of the harvest that’s more than what’s exported for food) and extreme weather while ignoring the above implications – the power of agribusiness to manipulate supply for greater profits and “cull the herd” in targeted Third World countries. Affected ones are poor, and FAO cites 20 in Africa, nine in Asia, six in Latin America and two in Eastern Europe that in total represent 850 million endangered people now suffering from chronic hunger and related poverty. They depend on imports, and their diets rely heavily on the type grains agribusiness controls – wheat, corn and rice plus soybeans. If current prices stay high and shortages persist, millions will die – maybe by design.
Fateful War and Peace Studies
Engdahl reviewed how American elites in the late 1930s began planning an American century in the post-war world – a “Pax Americana” to succeed the fading British Empire. The New York Council of Foreign Relations War and Peace Studies Group led the effort, and Rockefeller Foundation money financed it. As Engdahl put it: they’d be paid back later “thousands-fold.” First though, America had to achieve world dominance militarily and economically.
The US business establishment envisioned a “Grand Area” to encompass most of the world outside the communist bloc. To exploit it, they hid their imperial designs beneath a “liberal and benevolent garb” by defining themselves as “selfless advocates of freedom for colonial peoples (and) the enemy of imperialism.” They would also “champion world peace through multinational control.” Sound familiar?
Like today, it was just subterfuge for their real aims that were pursued under the banner of the United Nations, the new Bretton Woods framework, the IMF, World Bank and the GATT. They were established for one purpose – to integrate the developing world into the US-dominated Global North so its wealth could be transfered to powerful business interests, mostly in the US. The Rockefeller family led the effort, the four brothers were involved, and Nelson and David were the prime movers.
While JD III was plotting depopulation and racial purity schemes, Nelson worked “the other side of the fence….as a forward-looking international businessman” in the 1950s and 1960s. While preaching greater efficiency and production in targeted countries, he schemed, in fact, to open world markets for unrestricted US grain imports. It became the “Green Revolution.”
Nelson concentrated on Latin America. During WW II, he coordinated US intelligence and covert operations there, and those efforts laid the groundwork for family interests post-war. They were tied to the region’s military because friendly strongmen are the type leaders we prefer to guarantee a favorable business climate.
From the 1930s, Nelson Rockefeller had significant Latin American interests, especially in areas of oil and banking. In the early 1940s, he sought new opportunities and along with Laurance bought vast amounts of cheap, high-quality farmland so the family could get into agriculture. It wasn’t for family farming, however. The Rockefellers wants global monopolies, and their scheme was to do in agriculture what the family patriarch did in oil along with using food and agricultural technology as Cold War weapons.
By 1954, PL 480, or “Food for Peace,” established surplus food as a US foreign policy tool, and Nelson used his considerable influence on the State Department because every post-war Department Secretary, from 1952 through 1979, had ties to the family through its Foundation: namely, John Foster Dulles, Dean Rusk, Henry Kissinger and Cyrus Vance.
These men supported Rockefeller views on private business and knew the family saw agriculture the way it sees oil – commodities to be “traded, controlled, (and) made scarce or plentiful” to suit the foreign policy goals of dominant corporations controlling their trade.
The family got into agriculture in 1947 when Nelson founded the International Basic Economy Corporation (IBEC). Through it, he introduced “mass-scale agribusiness in countries where US dollars could buy huge influence in the 1950s and 1960s.” Nelson then allied with grain-trading giant Cargill in Brazil where they began developing hybrid corn seed varieties with big plans for them. They would make the country “the world’s third largest producer of (these) crop(s) after the US and China.” It was part of Rockefeller’s “Green Revolution” that by the late 1950s “was rapidly becoming a strategic US economic strategy alongside oil and military hardware.”
Latin America was the beginning of a food production revolution with big aims – to control the “basic necessities of the majority of the world’s population.” As agribusiness in the 1990s, it was “the perfect partner for the introduction….of genetically engineered food crops or GMO plants.” This marriage masqueraded as “free market efficiency, modernization (and) feeding a malnourished world.” In fact, it was nothing of the sort. It cleverly hid “the boldest coup over the destiny of entire nations ever attempted.”
Creating Agribusiness – Rockefeller and Harvard Invent USA “Agribusiness”
The “Green Revolution began in Mexico and spread across Latin America during the 1950s and 1960s.” It was then introduced in Asia, especially in India. It was at a time we claimed our aim was to help the world through free market efficiency. It was all one way, from them to us so corporate investors could profit. It gave US chemical giants and major grain traders new markets for their products. Agribusiness was going global, and Rockefeller interests were in the vanguard helping industry globalization take shape.
Nelson worked with his brother, JD III, who set up his own Agriculture Development Council in 1953. They shared a common goal – “cartelization of world agriculture and food supplies under their corporate hegemony.” At its heart, it aimed to introduce modern agriculture techniques to increase crop yields under the false claim of wanting to reduce hunger. The same seduction was later used to promote the Gene Revolution with Rockefeller interests and the same agribusiness giants backing it.
In the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson also used food as a weapon. He wanted recipient nations to agree to administration and Rockfeller preconditions that population control and opening their markets to US industry was part of the deal. It also involved training developing world agriculture scientists and agronomists in the latest production concepts so they could apply them at home. This “carefully constructed network later proved crucial” to the Rockefeller strategy to “spread the use of genetically-engineered crops around the world,” helped along with USAID funding and CIA mischief.
“Green Revolution” tactics were painful and took a devastating toll on peasant farmers. They destroyed their livelihoods and forced them into shantytown slums that now surround large Third World cities. There they provide cheap exploitable labor from people desperate to survive and easy prey for any way to do it.
The “Revolution” also harmed the land. Monoculture displaces diversity, soil fertility and crop yields decrease over time, and indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides causes serious later health problems. Engdahl quoted an analyst calling the “Green Revolution” a “chemical revolution” developing states couldn’t afford. That began the process of debt enslavement from IMF, World Bank and private bank loans. Large landowners can afford the latter. Small farmers can’t and often, as a result, are bankrupted. That, of course, is the whole idea.
The “Green Revolution” was based on the “proliferation of new hybrid seeds in developing markets” that characteristically lack reproductive capacity. Declining yields meant farmers had to buy seeds every year from large multinational producers that control their parental seed lines in house. A handful of company giants held patents on them and used them to lay the groundwork for the later GMO revolution. Their scheme was soon evident. Tradition farming had to give way to High Yield Varieties (HYV) of hybrid wheat, corn and rice with major chemical inputs.
Initially, growth rates were impressive but not for long. In countries like India, agricultural output slowed and fell. They were losers so agribusiness giants could exploit large new markets for their chemicals, machinery and other product inputs. It was the beginning of “agribusiness,” and it went hand-in-hand with the “Green Revolution” strategy that would later embrace plant genetic alterations.
Two Harvard Business School professors were involved early on – John Davis and Ray Goldberg. They teamed with Russian economist, Wassily Leontief, got Rockefeller and Ford Foundation funding, and initiated a four-decade revolution to dominate the food industry. It was based on “vertical integration” of the kind Congress outlawed when giant conglomerates or trusts like Standard Oil used them to monopolize entire sectors of key industries and crush competition.
It was revived under Trilateralist President Jimmy Carter disguised as “deregulation” to dismantle “decades of carefully constructed….health, food safety and consumer protection laws.” They would now give way under a new wave of industry-friendly vertical integration. Supported by a public campaign, it claimed that government was the problem, it encroached too much on our lives, and it had to be rolled back for greater personal “freedom.”
Early in the 1970s, agribusiness producers controlled US food supplies. They’d now go global on a scale without precedent. The goal – “staggering profits” by “restructur(ing) the way Americans grew food to feed themselves and the world.” Ronald Reagan continued Carter’s policy and let the top four or five monopoly players control it. It led to an unprecedented “concentration and transformation of American agriculture” with independent family farmers driven off their land through forced sales and bankruptcies so “more efficient” agribusiness giants could move in with “Factory Farms.” Remaining small producers became virtual serfs as “contract farmers.” America’s landscape was changing with people trampled on for profits.
Engdahl explained a gradual process of “wholesale merger(s) and consolidation….of American food production….into giant corporate global concentrations” with familiar names – Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Smithfield Foods and ConAgra. As they grew bigger, so did their bottom lines with annual equity returns rising from 13% in 1993 to 23% in 1999. Hundreds of thousands of small farmers lost out for it as their numbers dropped by 300,000 from 1979 to 1998 alone. It was even worse for hog farmers with a drop from 600,000 to 157,000 so 3% of producers could control 50% of the market.
The social costs were staggering and continue to be as “entire rural communities collapsed and rural towns became ghost towns.” Consider the consequences:
— by 2004, the four largest beef packers controlled 84% of steer and heifer slaughter – Tyson, Cargill, Swift and National Beef Packing;
— four giants controlled 64% of hog production – Smithfield Foods, Tyson, Swift and Hormel;
— three companies controlled 71% of soybean crushing – Cargill, ADM and Bunge;
— three giants controlled 63% of all flour milling, and five companies controlled 90% of global grain trade;
— four other companies controlled 89% of the breakfast cereal market – Kellogg, General Mills, Kraft Foods and Quaker Oats;
— in 1998, Cargill acquired Continental Grain to control 40% of national grain elevator capacity;
— four large agro-chemical/seed giants controlled over 75% of the nation’s seed corn sales and 60% of it for soybeans while also having the largest share of the agricultural chemical market – Monsanto, Novartis, Dow Chemical and DuPont; six companies controlled three-fourths of the global pesticides market;
— Monsanto and DuPont controlled 60% of the US corn and soybean seed market – all of it patented GMO seeds; and
— 10 large food retailers controlled $649 billion in global sales in 2002, and the top 30 food retailers account for one-third of global grocery sales.
At the dawn of a new century, family farming was decimated by corporate agribusiness’ vertically integrated powers that surpassed their earlier 1920s heyday dominance. The industry was now the second most profitable national one after pharmaceuticals with domestic annual sales exceeding $400 billion. The next aim was merging Big Pharma with Big food producing giants, and the Pentagon’s National Defense University took note in a 2003-issued paper – “Agribusiness (now) is to the United States what oil is to the Middle East.” It’s now considered a “strategic weapon in the arsenal of the world’s only superpower,” but at a huge cost to consumers everywhere.
Engdahl reviewed the “revolution” in animal factory production that EarthSave International founder and Baskin-Robbins heir, John Robbins, covered honestly, thoroughly and compassionately in two explosive books on the subject – “Diet for A New America” in 1987 and “The Food Revolution” in 2001. They were both stinging indictments of corporate-produced foods – horrifying animal cruelty, unsafe foods, unsanitary conditions, rampant use of anti-biotics humans then ingest, massive environmental pollution, and new unknown dangers from genetic engineering – all allowed by supposed government watchdog regulatory agencies that ignore public health concerns.
Agribusiness was on a roll, government supports it with tens of billions in annual subsidies, and the 1996 Farm Bill suspended the Secretary of Agriculture’s power to balance supply and demand so henceforth unrestricted production is allowed. Food producing giants took full advantage to control market forces. They crushed family farmers by over-producing and forcing down prices. They also pressured land values as small operators failed. It created opportunities for land acquisition on the cheap for greater concentration and dominance.
Next came integrating the Gene Revolution into agribusiness the way Harvard’s Ray Goldberg saw it coming. Entire new sectors were to be created from genetic engineering. It would include GMO drugs from GMO plants in a new “argi-ceutical system.” Goldberg predicted a “genetic revolution (through) an industrial convergence of food, health, medicine, fiber and energy businesses” – in a totally unregulated marketplace. Unmentioned was a threatening consumer nightmare hidden from view.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.