Soy avalanche and health in crisis

Soy avalanche and health in crisis

By Luis E. Sabini Fernández

Both in Argentina, as in Venezuela, in Uruguay and elsewhere, we should refer to a kind of restoration of our own agriculture, which existed in times prior to globalization, since there was no people that could be such without being able to feed themselves.

They are not going to fine this government for speeding. After a hundred days of potential, imminent and real vicissitudes, mixed in adjusted daily doses, the government has decided to give a place to the legislative bodies in the dispute over an export tax or detraction that has been strongly rejected by the rural employers who saw with it, decrease your large profits.

And the step taken is in fact a formidable second moment of which we must rejoice, beyond the particular or political wills, of the main actors at stake. Second moment in the unveiling of the drama that soy and unregulated agro-exports have meant in Argentina.

The first moment was the one that unleashed, precisely, the present conflict when the government, unexpectedly, spoke and criticized the sojization, hitherto untouched, and the rural employers' unions objected to the repeated reduction of profits.

It is significant that for a long hundred days with enormous media coverage, some absences persist, such as those of the corporations that provide seeds, pesticides and fertilizers to the increasingly expanded agro-industry in the country. These absences in the main media channel have been pointed out in some analyzes. Instead, the deafening media silence on the issue of health and pollution is more striking, which apparently comes as a Siamese coupled with the agro-industrial expansion. Environmental, plant, animal and human health. Silence that the persistence of some, few, dissonant voices, such as the ones known to a certain extent, of the Alternative Nobel Prize winner Raúl Montenegro or Jorge Rulli, cannot overcome. There are striking epidemiological reports but they are conspicuous by their media absence. Apparently neither the large producers, nor the medium-sized ones, nor the government care about this difficult issue. That nevertheless exists.

We imagine the most tenacious technological optimists, who abound on the left and right of the ideological spectrum, comforting us by saying that in the face of the expansion of anemias, cancers and congenital malformations, in the face of the disappearance of microfauna and microflora, the sudden and generalized death of bees, for example The large surpluses achieved with the intensification of yields and crops will give us the funds necessary for human genius to find solutions and overcome such setbacks.

Of course, this optimism must be difficult to achieve for those who have been born an anencephalic baby or with atrophied limbs, or who have perceived that the trend of diseases caused by "technological improvements" does not aim to shrink and be reduced but rather to expand.

Difficult to share also among peasants expropriated by soybeans, for example, "the soybeans" coincidentally adhered to one of the famous four rural entities with the celestial flag at the ready.

But if we can thank these government measures for something, it is precisely the enormous significance reached by socialization, always relative, always insufficient, of the problem of shaken soybeanization.

Sojization simply means that the country has undergone a process of expansion of soybean cultivation that has become the main crop. We must thank the country's enormous surface area, its vast territory with the consequent differentiated climates and microclimates, that soy has not accounted for 100% or 90% of the activity "in the field." Imagine the reader what would have happened to the soybean push if the country had a hundred thousand km2, like Cuba, let's say, or Honduras: there would not be even a little piece of soy "free" ...

Minimum and necessary historical trace

Although the cultivation of soybeans had been in development for years, both in its conventional form and organic soybeans, grown without agrochemicals, it is from the mid-90s, with the Sultanate of Menem, that an expansion begins at a very fast pace, characterized above all by its total deregulation; for the dismantling of any hint of state control or regulation, that is to say public.

The implantation of soybeans, now transgenic, is entirely carried out by private companies, called transnational companies, at the “forefront” of them, Monsanto, with its careful headquarters in Saint Louis, USA, and other national organizations. Like the AFA, Agricultores Federados Argentinos SCL, which are, significantly, conspicuous members of the Argentine Agrarian Federation: they have the dubious honor of making their agreements for the initial cultivation of genetically modified soybeans.

It is important to remember that at that time, under the presidency of Bill Clinton, transgenic soy was approved in the US because it was considered a matter of "national security", for which the White House assumed the role of approving it before it. herself, ignoring the fast track All parliamentary proceedings, as shortly before, through the Executive's signatures, the president had also obviated the objections that the FDA? Food & Drug Administration, the supreme body for the control of food and drugs in the US?, had presented.

It is good to keep in mind that when the White House sponsors such resolutions in the interest of "national security" it does so with reference to US security; not, obviously, from Argentina.

It is clear, it seems to us, that soy is being introduced in Argentina, en masse, as the spearhead of what will later be called "the country of soy" (the South American heartland with Paraguayan, Brazilian, Bolivian, Argentine and Uruguayan territory) , to which the companies and laboratories dedicated to the production of transgenic soy allude so much.

USA and Argentina: suppliers of the world

We must concede that the role that the White House through the USDA - US Ministry of Agriculture - has given Argentina is not easy to reject. "Ally" with the US in the globalization of agribusiness. Supreme exercise of the theory of comparative advantages. Avery points this out to us quite clearly. He is a sufficiently important character that his views can be taken as representative.

Dennis Avery has been a senior USDA official for years, introducing himself as a "State Department Senior Agricultural Analyst." With the characteristic candor of so many Americans, he explains in the introduction to his book Saving the planet with plastics and pesticides, [1] that was “ writing another [book] which was about the importance of free trade to American agriculture. " His last sentence reveals a whole conception: the "importance of free trade for American agriculture" is another way of saying the preservation of the US food supply to countries that are thus losing their food sovereignty.

1995 is the time for transgenic soy to take off in Argentina and the subsequent harvests that will set a record each year over the previous one. When the well-known jurist and man of law, pardon the right, Carlos Menem, dismantled all the public organizations of the country and handed over agrarian policy to Monsanto, which is to say, carnal relations through, to the United States, in his book crusade Avery ruled: In the US and Argentina alone there is enough non-production acreage (due to official policies) to feed another 1.5 billion people.”(Ibid., P. 123)

Avery shows us how the North American prairies and the Argentine pampas come together in a world politics. Guided, of course, by the US Department of Agriculture. There are strategies they are horrified to share.

Global trade and dependency vs. Food sovereignty

For his part, the horror that Avery scrutinizes throughout his book is to the “ food self-sufficiency policy”. In other words, there are more and more societies overcoming the ship-to-mouth nightmare. Because that would harm… the US… and, transitively, Argentina. With such a policy " More than 40 million hectares of the world's best farmland located in countries like the US and Argentina would be clumsily idled, while Asian farmers would be forced to plow every last corner of available land. " (ibid., p. 286).

Observe the exquisite care that our universal counselor takes in attending to the weaknesses of others, Asians in the passage cited.

To put it with the characteristic arrogance of those who are sure of their truth and above all of their power, a few years earlier the US Secretary of Agriculture John Block declared: “ the idea that developing countries should feed themselves is an anachronism from a bygone era. They could better ensure their food safety by relying on agricultural products from the United States, which are available, in many cases at lower costs.. " (Uruguay Round, 1986, cit. P. W. Bello, “The destruction of agriculture”, www.rebelió

Avery's repeated invocations to meet food demand (which, indeed, colonialism first and imperialism later have endeavored to build) reveal that the US agribusiness elite was aware of its insufficiency; hence the granting to Argentina in particular, but shortly afterwards also to Canada, the role of "allies" or auxiliary in such supplies. In the 1990s, the US leadership relied more on Argentina for the implementation of the “soy model” than on troubled Brazil, where considerable resistance to transgenic foods had emerged. Lula will have to reach the Brazilian government so that the US can advance somewhat more clearly in agribusiness alliances, whatever surprises history has in store for us.

The Venezuelan example, loaded with so many potentialities

Luckily, there are some societies, some governments sufficiently “backward” that are betting on food sovereignty. Such is the case of Venezuela, which is, however, quite complex, because there coexists, problematic, the awareness that the country cannot import 80% of its food, which is the current reality, due to a process of deformation caused by the oil plethora that has been prostrating the food industry, and along with it, President Chávez's ban on transgenic foods within Bolivarian territory, and as against the face of such awareness, that the prohibition of transgenic foods is not So far but a lawless Chavian úkase to back it up, and on the other hand, that the agreements signed by different heads of the Venezuelan government and Chávez himself with the Argentine agribusiness holders, particularly with the number one of Argentine soybeans, Gustavo Grobocopatel, are to import machinery and modus operandi Argentines.

What can Grobocopatel & Cía. It is "the technological package" that is being implemented in Argentina, which is characterized, p. For example, by articulating the production of 500 ha with a single operator aboard the direct sowing machines. What has been rightly defined as “agriculture without farmers”. And that is something more than that. Without farmers but with pollution. As Rulli sums it up in one of his fermentary radio editorials, "explaining" why the soybean model has no intention of repopulating the field (which on the other hand has just emptied), he says: " since it is known that it would not make sense and would even be suicidal, to make soy and live on the farm with the family. " (Editorial in Horizonte Sur, National Radio, 6/29/2008).

Along with that ominous prospect, that Bolivarian concern to fight to establish or reestablish food sovereignty also has the arduous and daily task of the peasant population that for decades, before Chávez's irruption, has switched from agriculture with pesticides to agroecology. Based precisely on their work and life experience, which confronted them with the diseases caused by pesticides. Some Venezuelan agroecological networks provide not so small cities, such as Barquisimeto, with a good part of their organic vegetables and fruits. [2]

Two futures that are already being built

Returning to Argentina, the apparently late but perhaps real irruption in the “hundred-day conflict” of a group of groups and organizations of indigenous people, small producers and family farmers who have met in Rosario in June harshly criticizing the soybean model, claiming family and peasant agriculture, their own agriculture: "comprehensive agrarian reform, agroecology and food sovereignty." It is signed, among others, by the National Peasant Front and the Indigenous Peasant National Movement.

The new winds that have oxygenated the rural question in Argentina, can serve to promote a fight against the reign of soybeans, which is the dismantling of healthy foods that were remaining. Confronting the irresponsible politics of widespread and unpunished pollution does not seem easy. And even less to fight against food dependency, with the infamous system "from the boat to the mouth" that the Avery and the Block of "there" and the Menem and the Grobocopatel of "here" advocate, which does not affect Argentina directly ( or it does so to a minimum).

Strictly speaking, both here, as in Venezuela, in Uruguay and everywhere else, we would have to refer to a kind of restoration of our own agriculture, which we all necessarily had, because in times prior to globalization, there was no people that could be such without feeding, without being able to feed. And knowing that claiming food sovereignty implies confrontation with now US imperialism and its policies that create permanent, structural dependencies. Confront a system "of exchanges" that has turned food into a weapon of war and business. As Paul Nicholson of Via Campesina summed up well: “food markets are a weapon of mass destruction”. [3]

Cases such as the current Venezuelan situation complicate the picture: the defense of food sovereignty promoted by the Bolivarian government coincides, apparently, with the Grobocopatel-type contributions aimed at establishing the "technological package" model in the Venezuelan fields. It liquidates or stifles any sustainable project without chemicals or pollution but in its own way contributes to food sovereignty.

Because the "Grobo" project is also "revolutionary" in its own way: agriculture without farmers expels population, but settles and seduces or passivizes them; It comes with pesticides and dependencies, but it is comfortable; with badges and gondolas. What we have been knowing in Argentina for at least the last ten years.

Learn to realize that contamination and food dependency come together and together with "the success of soy", and propose to resist and seek options.

* Luis E. Sabini Fernández He is a professor at the Free Chair of Human Rights, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the University of Buenos Aires, journalist and editor of the biannual magazine futures of the planet, society and each one.


[1] Edited in Argentina by the Cámara de Sanidad Agropecuaria y Fertilizantes [sic], Buenos Aires, 1998, although Avery's work was done and funded in the US by the Hudson Institute, Indiana. The name of the Chamber, slightly flawed in Spanish, in which it should have a second preposition "de" before "fertilizers", may pay the price for a hasty translation, not only of phrases but even of institutions ...

[2] A documentary, Monte Culebra, gives an account of this

[3] See the full note in futures no 6, Río de la Plata, 2004.

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