The Fruits of Civilization (77-0-1) The World Trade Organization

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There is not one grain of anything in the world that is sold in the free market. Not one. The only place you see a free market is in the speeches of politicians. ~ American agribusiness executive Dwayne Andreas

After World War 2, western governments, with the US at the forefront, established multinational organizations to facilitate economic cooperation, both in finance and trade. The World Trade Organization (WTO) was established in 1995, replacing an earlier trade agreement protocol.

The WTO’s structure promotes commerce at the expense of other societal goals. As the final arbiter of trade disputes, the WTO almost always rules in favor of business interests, restraining member countries from having health, safety, or environmental rules that companies contend impede trade. ~ Wenonah Hauter

The centerpiece of negotiations leading to the creation of the WTO was agriculture, which has been the most contested facet of continuing talks. The founding Agricultural Agreement (AA) was crafted by multinational food companies. It requires that countries enable “market access” by banning policies and practices historically used to control the quality and volume of imports.

AA rules allow the largest agribusiness companies to move operations overseas to where production is cheapest, to compete unfairly with local producers, and to pursue a global race to the bottom for farm prices. Policies that ensure fair prices for farmers are considered trade barriers. ~ Wenonah Hauter

WTO trade rules are designed to help agribusiness produce crops where labor and other costs are the cheapest, and environmental laws the weakest. Hence, food production has increasingly moved to the developing world.

A dramatic decline in farm income in developed and developing countries alike has been the norm under the WTO, causing indebtedness and foreclosures in rich countries and loss of livelihoods and hunger in poor countries. ~ American trade analyst Lori Wallach

The WTO requires that laws mitigating hazards, such as pesticides, bacterial contamination, use of hormones in feedstock, and safety regulations, must be justified by expensively impractical risk-assessment procedures. WTO trade rules have forced countries to accept genetically modified crops and meat with hormones even if they have laws prohibiting them.

The WTO corresponds with US government protocol: not to produce food efficiently in an environmentally sustainable way, or even for food to be safe to eat; instead, the overriding priority is to allow agricultural corporations to handsomely profit for delivering a facsimile of food.

For millennia, countries around the world practiced self-sustaining, localized agriculture. An industrialized agriculture model is now being forced on these countries – a system dependent on massive chemical inputs, invasive technologies, and corporate control. This globalized agriculture has devastated the environment, farm communities, and farmers. ~ American ecologist Debi Barker