Economics, empire watch, environment, GMO, latest
Comments 21

India Mortgaged? Forced-Fed Illness and the Neoliberal Food Regime

Colin Todhunter

Like many countries, India’s food system was essentially clean just a generation or two ago but is now being comprehensively contaminated with sugar, bad fats, synthetic additives, GMOs and pesticides under the country’s neoliberal ‘great leap forward’. The result has been a surge in obesity, diabetes and cancer incidence, while there has been no let-up in the under-nutrition of those too poor to join in the over-consumption.

Indian government data indicates that cancer showed a 5% increase in prevalence between 2012 and 2014 with the number of new cases doubling between 1990 and 2013. The incidence of cancer for some major organs in India is the highest in the world.

The increase in prevalence of diabetes is also worrying. By 2030, the number of diabetes patients in India is likely to rise to 101 million (World Health Organization estimate). The figure doubled to 63 million in 2013 from 32 million in 2000. Over 8% of the adult male population in India has diabetes. The figure is 7% for women. Almost 76,000 men and 52,000 women in the 30-69 age group in India died due to diabetes in 2015, according to the WHO.

study in The Lancet from a couple of years ago found that India leads the world in underweight people. Some 102 million men and 101 million women are underweight, which makes the country home to over 40% of the global underweight population.

Contrast this with India’s surge in obesity. In 1975, the country had 0.4 million obese men or 1.3% of the global obese men’s population. In 2014, it was in fifth position globally with 9.8 million obese men or 3.7% of the global obese men’s population. Among women, India is globally ranked third, with 20 million obese women or 5.3% of global population.

According to India’s 2015–16 National Family Health Survey, 38% of under-5s are stunted (height is significantly low for their age). The survey also stated that 21% under-5s are significantly underweight for their height, a sign of recent acute hunger. The prevalence of underweight children in India is among the highest in the world; at the same time, the country is fast becoming the diabetes and heart disease capital of the world.

India’s mineral deficient soils haven’t helped. This has been made worse by Green Revolution practices. Green Revolution crops, unlike their predecessors, fail to adequately take up minerals such as iron and zinc from the soil. So even though people might consume more calories (possibly leading to obesity), their intake of these key micronutrients has fallen. A quarter of the world’s population are affected by Green Revolution iron deficiency and research indicates that the condition impairs the learning ability of more than half of India’s schoolchildren.

Many of the older crops carried dramatically higher counts of nutrients per calorie. The amount of cereal each person must therefore consume to fulfil daily dietary requirements has gone up. For instance, the iron content of millet is four times that of rice. Oats carry four times more zinc than wheat. As a result, between 1961 and 2011, the protein, zinc and iron contents of the world’s directly consumed cereals declined by 4%, 5% and 19%, respectively.

While it is true that many other factors, including pollution, poor sanitation, working and living conditions, lack of income and economic distress, lack of access to healthcare and poverty, contribute to ill health and disease, a range of conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers and obesity, have all been linked to modern food production and diets.

‘Free trade’ and poor health

To improve health, lifestyle change is often promoted, as if poor health is a matter of individual responsibility and personal choice. This message conveniently sidesteps wider issues concerning the global capitalist food regime and how our access to food is shaped.

If we look at the North American Free Trade Agreement, we can see how the subsequent flood of cheap US processed food into Mexico adversely affected the health of ordinary people. Western ‘convenience’ (junk) food has displaced more traditional-based diets and is now readily available in every neighbourhood. Increasing rates of diabetes, obesity and other health issues have followed. This report by GRAIN describes how US agribusiness and retailers have captured the market south of the border and outlines the subsequent negative impact on the health of Mexican people. This could be what is in store for India.

Western agribusiness, food processing companies and retail concerns are gaining wider entry into India and through various strategic trade deals are looking to gain a more significant footprint within the country. The opening of the food and retail sector to more foreign direct investment and the US-India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (see page 13 here) have raised serious concerns about the stranglehold that transnational corporations could have on the agriculture and food sectors.

We can already see one outcome in the edible oils sector. India was virtually self-sufficient in edible oils up till the mid-1990s, using healthy practices to extract oil from for example indigenous mustard, linseed, ground nut and sesame, all of which are deeply rooted in Indian culture. Due to the unscrupulous undermining of the indigenous edible oil seeds sector  and the influx of cheap subsidised imports, some 70% of the population now consumes a narrower range of oils, not least (rain forest-destroying) palm oil and (GM) soy, processed using unhealthy solvents. To facilitate this, thousands of small-scale food oil processing enterprises were put out of business to make way for grain trader and food processor company Cargill, whose role in drawing up health and safety rules was instrumental in driving the competition out of business.

It is part of the wider push by the global industrial food processing lobby to impose standardised, less nutrient-rich products and manufacturing processes along with unhealthy fats, sugars and chemical additives – courtesy of compliant regulators and policy makers in India – in order to consolidate its grip on the country’s food base. As with the edible oils sector, it entails displacing more diverse, indigenous foodstuffs and healthy low-input food production processes, while robbing hundreds of thousands of their livelihoods.

We not only have Wal-Mart making inroads to complete the global food regime chain from seed to plate in India, but Western style fast-food outlets have already been soaring in number throughout the country. For example, Pizza Hut now operates in 46 Indian cities with 181 restaurants and 132 home delivery locations (2016). KFC is in 73 cities with 296 restaurants, a 770% increase over five years. According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Applied Research, the Indian fast food market is growing at the rate of 30-35% per annum (see this).

Heart disease, liver damage, stroke, obesity and diabetes are just some of the diseases linked to diets revolving around processed ‘convenience’ food. Frequent consumption of this food has been associated with increased body mass index as well as higher intakes of fat, sodium, added sugars and sugar-sweetened beverages and lower intakes of fruits, vegetables, fibre and milk in children, adolescents and adults.

Modern processed food also tends to have higher energy densities and poorer nutritional quality than foods prepared at home and in comparison with dietary recommendations (see this). To further appreciate just how unhealthy today’s food is, a 2015 report in the Guardian reveals the cocktails of additives, colourants and preservatives that the industry adds to our food.

Moreover, in many regions across the globe industrialised factory farming has replaced traditional livestock agriculture. For example, just 40 years ago the Philippines’ entire population was fed on native eggs and chickens produced by family farmers. Now, most of those farmers are out of business.

As world trade rules encourage nations from imposing tariffs on subsidised imported products, they are compelled to allow cheap, factory-farmed US meat into the country. These products are then sold at lower prices than domestic meat. There is therefore pressure for local producers to scale up and industrialise to compete.

Factory farms increase the risk of pathogens like E coli and salmonella that cause food-borne illness in people. Overuse of antibiotics can fuel the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the use of arsenic and growth hormones can increase the risk of cancer in people, and crowded conditions can be a breeding ground for disease.

The Modi administration’s restrictions on cow slaughter – making it difficult for many livestock farmers to operate – are regarded by some as a tool to facilitate the running down of small-scale livestock farming, paving the way for the industrialisation and corporatisation of the livestock industry.

Green Revolution, micronutrient-deficient soil and human health

We often hear unsubstantiated claims about the green revolution having saved hundreds of millions of lives, but any short-term gains in productivity have been offset. This high-input chemical-intensive model helped the drive towards greater monocropping and has resulted in less diverse diets and less nutritious foods. Its long-term impact has led to soil degradation and mineral imbalances, which in turn have adversely affected human health (see this informative report on India by botanist Stuart Newton – p.9 onward).

Adding weight to this argument, the authors of this paper from the International Journal of Environmental and Rural Development state:

Cropping systems promoted by the green revolution have increased the food production but also resulted in reduced food-crop diversity and decreased availability of micronutrients. Micronutrient malnutrition is causing increased rates of chronic diseases (cancer, heart diseases, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis) in many developing nations; more than 3 billion people are directly affected by the micronutrient deficiencies. Unbalanced use of mineral fertilizers and a decrease in the use of organic manure are the main causes of the nutrient deficiency in the regions where the cropping intensity is high.”

India might now be self-sufficient in various staples, but many of these foodstuffs are high calorie low nutrient, have led to the displacement of more nutritionally diverse cropping systems and have effectively mined the soil of nutrients. The importance of renowned agronomist William Albrecht, who died in 1974, should not be overlooked here and his work on healthy soils and healthy people.

In this respect, botanist Stuart Newton’s states (p.24):

The answers to Indian agricultural productivity is not that of embracing the international, monopolistic, corporate-conglomerate promotion of chemically-dependent GM crops… India has to restore and nurture her depleted, abused soils and not harm them any further, with dubious chemical overload, which are endangering human and animal health.”

India is losing 5,334 million tonnes of soil every year due to soil erosion because of the indiscreet and excessive use of fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research reports that soil is become deficient in nutrients and fertility.

Newton provides insight into the importance of soils and their mineral compositions and links their depletion to the ‘green revolution’. In turn, these depleted soils cannot help but lead to mass malnourishment. This is quite revealing given that proponents of the Green Revolution claim it helped reduced malnutrition. Newton favours a system of agroecology, a sound understanding of soil and the eradication of poisonous chemical inputs.

Although this system is certainly gaining traction in India – there are encouraging signs for agroecological farming in places like Andhra and Karnataka – what we are also seeing is GMOs illegally creeping into the food system. Recent reports show GMOs are in commonly used food products and GM seeds are prevalent. The fear is that approval by contamination is what the GM industry has desired all along.

There are well-documented economic, environmental, ethical, social and health implications associated with GM. And unlike the Green Revolution, once the GM genie is out of the bottle, it can’t be put back in and the changes to the genetic core of the world’s food will be the legacy bequeathed to subsequent generations.

Pesticides, food and the environment

There are currently 34,000 pesticides registered for use in the US. Drinking water is often contaminated by pesticides and more babies are being born with preventable birth defects due to pesticide exposure.

Illnesses are on the rise too, including asthma, autism and learning disabilities, birth defects and reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases and several types of cancer. The association with pesticide exposure is becoming stronger with each new study.

In Punjab, pesticide run-offs into water sources have turned the state into a ‘cancer epicentre‘. India is one of the world’s largest users of pesticides and a profitable market for the corporations that manufacture them. Ladyfinger, cabbage, tomato and cauliflower in particular may contain dangerously high levels because farmers tend to harvest them almost immediately after spraying. Fruit and vegetables are sprayed and tampered with to make them more colourful, and harmful fungicides are sprayed on fruit to ripen them in order to rush them off to market.

Research by the School of Natural Sciences and Engineering (SNSE) at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore has indicated disturbing trends in the increased use of pesticide. In 2008, it reported that many crops for export had been rejected internationally due to high pesticide residues. Moreover, India is one of the largest users of World Health Organization (WHO) ‘Class 1A’ pesticides, which are extremely hazardous.

Research by SNSE shows farmers use a cocktail of pesticides and often use three to four times the recommended amounts. It may come as no surprise that a recent report about children in Hyderabad are consuming 10 to 40 more times pesticides in their food than kids in the US.

Forced-fed development

In 1978, T.N. Reddy predicted in the book ‘India Mortgaged’ that the country would one day open all sectors to foreign direct investment and surrender economic sovereignty to imperialist powers.

Today, the US-led West, clings to a moribund form of capitalism and has used various mechanisms in the face of economic stagnation and massive inequalities: the raiding of public budgets, the expansion of credit to consumers and governments to sustain spending and consumption, financial speculation and increased militarism.

Under the guise of globalisation, we also see an unrelenting drive to plunder what capital regards as ‘untapped markets’ in other areas of the globe. International agri-capital has been moving in on Indian food and agriculture for some time. But as an agrarian-based country underpinned by smallholder agriculture, it first needs to displace the current model before bringing India’s food and agriculture sector under its control.

Devinder Sharma describes the situation:

India is on fast track to bring agriculture under corporate control… Amending the existing laws on land acquisition, water resources, seed, fertilizer, pesticides and food processing, the government is in overdrive to usher in contract farming and encourage organized retail. This is exactly as per the advice of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as well as the international financial institutes.”

In return for up to £90 billion in loans, in the 90s India was instructed to dismantle its state-owned seed supply system, reduce subsidies and run down public agriculture institutions and offer incentives for the growing of cash crops to earn foreign exchange. According to the World Bank’s lending report, based on data compiled up to 2015, India was easily the largest recipient of its loans in the history of the institution. To push through the programme, hundreds of millions are to be shifted out of agriculture.

Successive Indian administrations have been quite obliging. While India’s current government talks about ‘make in India’ (self-sufficiency), the reality is subservience to western capital. Agriculture is deliberately being made economically non-viable for small-scale farmers: financial distress and ‘economic liberalisation’ have resulted in between 300,000 and 400,000 farmer suicides since 1997 with millions more experiencing economic distress and over 6,000 leaving the sector each day. This lies at the root of the ongoing agrarian crisis. But it goes much further. We are witnessing not only the structural transformation of India’s rural base but an all-encompassing strategy designed to incorporate India into the US’s corporate-financial-intel architecture.

Whether it involves the displacement of indigenous food and agriculture by a model dominated by western conglomerates or it is the selling of pharmaceuticals and the expansion of private hospitals to address the health impacts of the modern junk food system (in India, the healthcare sector is projected to grow by 16% a year), either way, it’s a lose-lose situation for the population.

But it all forms part of the holy grail of neoliberalism, GDP growth. A notion based on an economic system defined by bad food and ill health, joblessness, mass surveillance, spiralling inequalities, environmental degradation, militarism and debt on one hand; on the other, by bail outs, tax havens, massive profits and subsidies for large corporations and banks.

So, what can be done? Whether we are discussing India or elsewhere, the scaling up  of agroecology based on the notion of food sovereignty offers an alternative. Much has been written on agroecology as a model of agriculture but also as a movement for political change. Part of the process involves resisting the dismantling of rural economies and indigenous agriculture and instituting a sustainable food system rooted in local communities, whereby producing for local and regional needs takes precedence over supplying distant markets.

It also entails rejecting the agenda of the WTO which subjugates local agriculture to the needs of global markets (determined by agribusiness interests). And, unlike the current system, it includes supporting healthy and culturally appropriate food, encouraging diversified food production and recognising that food is not simply another commodity to be traded or speculated on for profit.


21 Comments

  1. The old story of selling a lie, crushing the truth as it emerges and buying off enough charlatans to impose your will.

    Food forests are starting to prove their worth as sustainable food supplies. Each country will design them differently according to atitude and climate.

    1
    5
  2. Antonyl says

    Life expectancy at birth for women in India rose from 40 years to 70 in 2016. https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/india/life-expectancy-at-birth
    After reading the article above one gets the impression it went the other way around…

    The food quantity problem is solved for Indians: what is left is the quality issue.

    Indians might be better of growing wet rice only in wet places, while growing maize, wheat etc. in dryer ones even if that means the introduction of new diets or returning to old ones. Farm income attracts zero tax in India; electricity is given “free” for water pumping; some crops better government bottom prices. Agriculture is still an electoral hot potato in India so politicians tip toe around big issues for decades fearing to lose votes from the millions of land labourers or marginal farmers. Meanwhile the employment in agriculture is dropping from 62.7 % in 1992 to 44.3 % in 2017…. https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/india/employment-in-agriculture#SL.AGR.EMPL.ZS

  3. In the early 1970s a young medical doctor invited me to a meeting on Cancer in the Third World, of which I remember two talks.

    The first was by Dennis Burkitt (of Burkitt’s Lymphoma) who told us how, while visiting hospitals in Africa, “I never met a patient with stomach cancer who couldn’t read and write”. (Even in the 70s literacy was a rare accomplishment of native Africans, and those who had it were immensely proud of it; see Schweitzer, From the Primaeval Forest). So, having the White Man’s Juju, these “elite” adopted the White Man’s “elite” Lifestyle, more processed food: result, stomach cancer. Happily, Burkitt quickly found a reliable prophylactic: roughage in the diet.

    The second talk was by a Hindu physician, who reported that breast cancer had been relatively rare in India but was now being seen increasingly amongst women of the more prosperous classes.

    From the article above, it would seem that what I heard about India in the 80s is true: “The middle classes have hijacked the revolution”.

  4. rilme says

    Tell people that you think good health is encouraged by eating fruit, vegetables and whole grains and by not eating farm chemicals, dead animals, and the bodily fluids of live animals, and they will see you as a fanatic, a conspiracy theorist, and a jihadist.

    9
    1
    • @rilme. Unless you are talking to enlightened people, that is. Of whom there are always a few around, to wake the black masses from their ignorance, sloth and filth..

      I believe that somewhere in the New Testament (Acts of the Apostles?) there is a remark about a peculiar habit of the Jews, you can detect them because they never eat before washing their hands. And somewhere in the archives of the ever-lamented BBC Third Program (what’s that?) is a talk about Jews in the Europe of the Middle Ages being accused of witchcraft because they were conspicuously less prone to Pestilence and Plague.

    • You missed the point !

      Glyphosate is in the farm land & then into your fruit & vegetables & then into your blood – do the test?

      Wheat with Glyphosate created illness falsely diagnosed as “Gluten Intolerance”.

      Grass for Milking Cows that contains Glyphosate causes “Lactose Intolerance” another misleading false name.

      Humans are an omnivorous species who developed from carnivores let people live their own way but get educated on the real culprit.

      Watch https://www.rt.com/shows/documentary/427377-gmo-chemicals-agricultural-industry/

      18
      • rilme says

        I think ” not eating farm chemicals” includes avoiding glyphosate and any other -cides.

  5. I own copies of the following books:
    “Potternger’s Cats” by Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., M.D.
    “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, D.D.S.
    The first four volumes of “The Albrecht Papers” by William A. Albrecht, Ph.D.
    “Soil Grass and Cancer” by Andre Voisin
    My interest in these books is not an interest in the people who wrote them but rather in the evidence the books contain to support the similar viewpoint taken by the authors, perhaps best expressed by the words of William Albrecht:
    “It’s not the overpowering invader we must fear but the weakened condition of the victim.”
    I have adopted this point of view.
    Albrecht states that declining soil fertility (the ability of the soil to produce protein) leads to extinction of species.This suggests to me that improving soil fertility can protect species from extinction. When a species has gone locally extinct (extirpated), a demonstration that improving the soil fertility allows the extirpated species to return and thrive in its former habitat could support Albrecht’s statement that declining soil fertility leads to extinction of species.

    17
  6. Big B says

    India is the Jewel in the Crown: not of a defunct amoral Empire – but of world heritage and ancient culture.The Himalayan snow-fed Indus valley was a cradle of civilisation and Vedic culture. India gave birth and nurtured our spirituality: there should not be a person poor in spirit or material wealth in India …so what went wrong? The bloody IMF: in 1991, India let the financial terrorists of the IMF in with their SAPs, conditionalities and their own pseudo-spiritual LPG mantra …Om, let’s liberalise; Om, let’s privatise; Om, let’s globalise. With the implementation of their New Industrial Policy – India became India Inc:

    While the direct beneficiary of the new policy framework was the business sector, the middle classes also welcomed the restructuring with open arms. India had been a domestic economy in which production was
    intended for the Indian market, and consumption was based on local production. With globalization, the
    country’s middle and upper classes quickly fell under the spell of all that was foreign – they were hungry for
    international goods, values and lifestyles. They identified Government’s policies as regressive and saw them as
    the reason for their material deprivation. They supported India’s new access to the global market, insofar as it
    gave them what they thought they so badly needed. Unfortunately, the general public has often remained
    oblivious to the deeper consequences the LPG process would inflict on the socio-economic reality of India –
    especially for local producers, small farmers, small industry and small retail. The middle and upper classes also
    became increasingly detached and segregated in islands of status – removed from the broader country’s
    reality.[Dr. Vandana Shiva]

    https://ifg.org/v2/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/IFG_OTO_report.pdf [Chapter on the “Indian Oligarchs”]

    As I commented on Colin’s last article: along with the huge subsidies for the TNCs that skew food production in favour of the North; a subsidised amoral business model that allows them to externalise the human and environmental costs; and further subsidies on the production of the oil that fuels the Green Revolution …there you have it: as Colin so succinctly frames it …India has been mortgaged: or better still – sold out to illness The vast spiritual, cultural, environmental, and human wealth of an ancient diverse multicultural society has been harvested and concentrated into the hands of 50 billionaires, again according to Dr Shiva – and this is how we now measure the success of an ’emerging’ 8,000 year old culture? I wonder what the Buddha would have thought of that? I think he would have advocated satyagraha and led a non-violent revolution: another thing Indians have excelled at. The future belongs to the people, not to the TNCs.

    26
    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Anthropogenic climate destabilisation will make India uninhabitable by 2100, but almost certainly decades earlier. Wet bulb temperatures will render outside work impossible in the hot months, and the monsoon is bound to be deranged, with the hydrological cycle massively perturbed between dry years and flooding years. Furthermore, the Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra will all run dry once the Tibetan glaciers are gone. Moreover, India is misruled by an infinitely corrupt class, with Hindutva fascists currently presiding over a reign of terror against Moslems, low caste, tribals, women, journalists etc, with the worst atrocities in Kashmir. There the Indian elite have turned to Israel for assistance in repressing a restive Moslem population with extremely brutal methods, Israel having great expertise in that field. Oops-another ‘antisemitic’ truth. I must report myself, immediately!
      India’s one hope would be to join with China is resolving the global crisis of crises, but India’s elites are too busy kissing American, Israeli, Japanese etc. posteriors, posing as ‘Honorary White Men’, and too enraged that, starting from similar positions in 1949, China has so very far out-run India in every field, but cricket, ever since. Cultural diffusion from India, over the Tibetan plateau and through Central Asia, into China, and then Chinese developments of Indian ideas, (and Korean and Japanese efforts thereafter) gave the human world some of its greatest achievements during our brief sojourn on the planet. What a pity to throw it all away.

      25
      1
      • Big B says

        MM; in no way can I fault your synopsis: especially about the likes of Bodhidharma crossing the Himalayas, taking his embodied Zen to China and beyond. Philosopher-monks like Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu penetrated the heart of humanities Beingness whilst the West was still in the throes of its Dark Age …a Dark Age that is still upon us? And the light of that Dark Age was and is the Buddha …

        But I cannot agree with your idea of resolving the global crisis is in joining China. For all China’s advance comes from applying the very same NLP mantra. The cultural hegemony of globalisation is the death warrant of humanity. The very recent BRICS 2018 Declaration from Johannesburg, from last weekend, makes explicitly clear their commitment to “global governance” under the aegis of the IMF/WB, WTO, etc. A techno-cybernetic globalised “4th Industrial Revolution” (their term) would come at the death of the human spirit and extinguishing of the flame of freedom that the Buddha and his followers (including unworthy me) seek to ignite in the hearts of all humanity (every sentient being).

        https://www.scribd.com/document/384757273/Brics-2018-The-Johannesburg-Declaration

        Human freedom is not a libertarian concept: it is a tripartite relationship of freedom; empathy/compassion; and responsibility – born and cultivated as self sovereign autonomy. It comes with an (unwritten, unwritable) ethical core that cannot be dictated, imposed, or legislated for – but only individually matured (or evolved within the fertility of the mutual aid community of the Sangha). How can this be achieved or replicated by placing the human spirit as the rule-taking subject and submissive agent of innumerable layers of nested dominance/submission hierarchies – that extend to the supranational level?

        It cannot: and no talk of techno-cybernetic wizardry; or amount fetishised and sexualised wants, needs and desires; or amount of token totemic commodified gizmos and gadgets; or amount of symbolic wealth and status falsely bestowed by counterfeit currency …could ever compensate for the loss of freedom. Humanity would ‘die’, immature, underdeveloped, and impoverished in spirit.

        And if you want to contend that freedom can be found at the end of a globalised supply and value chain; or over the rainbow, and can be realised by following the Belt and (yellow brick) Road …I feel you are misguided, my friend. Regional integration is at the expense of human freedom; with zero marginal return for the majority, and a false wealth effect and slavery to a Freudian pleasure principle for the few. The cultural hegemony of globalised materialism dehumanises the oppressor and the oppressed: to the cost of the Earth. The people (in as much as they are given the choice) do not want it: but the global leaders are committed just the same [see BRICS 2018 Declaration].

        Such is the justified antipathy for the American imperium: I feel that a multilateral more-or-less centralised Pax Capitalis has become the horizon of humanities hopelessness? This is a mistake and lack of imagination: born of unfreedom, IMHO. Is a globalised neoliberal multilateral Free Trade Agreement humanities destiny …or death warrant? Is NLP our quasi-theological mantra of mantras of economic power? If so, it comes at the cost of the Earth, and subversion of humanities freedom. For me, that is way too high a price to pay. Or even to contemplate.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          I completely agree that neo-liberal capitalism is humanity’s death warrant. Indeed, barring a miracle of miracles, that warrant is long since signed and served, and in the process of execution. My belief, call it delusion if you prefer, is that China is using the only tools at hand, those of globalised capitalism, to reach a different destination than that which the Western psychopathic elites are heading towards. Clasical Western economists like JS Mill, never foresaw capitalism growing, cancer-like, forever, but being useful to build up a sufficient amount of wealth to allow humanity to relax from its physical labours and travails, and concentrate on matters of cultural and intellectual value.
          If you read or otherwise access Chinese declarations of their intent, NOT the Western hate propaganda that has a 100% record of racialist negativity towards China, you will see that the Chinese ruling elites are well aware of the ecological crisis, and intend using the wealth they have built up to address that existential danger, by technological and other means. It may be a dead end, and they have their hands full at the same time coping with relentless Western aggression and subversion, designed to destroy their country and vivisect it in a re-run of the 19th century, but I see it as humanity’s sole remaining, emaciated, hope. The Western elite, I believe, plan an entirely different solution, a Final one, for the ‘useless eaters’ problem, one that I fully expect to see mobilised soon.

          • Big B says

            I do not want it to seem otherwise: being a small ‘b’ buddhist, I have a deep spiritual empathy with Chinese and Indian culture. I have spent years of my life with my head in obscure Chinese texts, such as Cheng wei-shih lun (commentary on Vasubhandu’s Thirty Verses). Perhaps the best way to look at it, then, is from a systems overview: then we would agree that the NLP mantra is heading for collapse? We do not need to refer to Joseph Tainter that over-investment in systematic complexity is a law of diminishing return. This is self-evident. There is only so much net energy available to a closed finite networked system. Beyond a certain point, once all the net energy is invested in the systems own self-organised complexity …there can be no more growth in complexity, as there would be nothing left to support the system. Over-investment in the systems infrastructure engenders systemic fragility; which engenders the risk of full globalised or partial localised collapse?

            What I am hearing you say is that China’s route to collapse is superior to the West’s …well OK, but the net result is the same?

            BRICS economies continue to support global economic expansion and outlook. We advocate continued use of fiscal, monetary and structural policies in concert, to forge strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth

            This is not propaganda: this is the Chinese declaration of their intent. it is from last weeks Johannesburg Declaration. As I have already commented: when you are already 50% beyond the systemic boundaries of sustainable growth – only cancers are compelled to continue to grow?

            The Declaration is full of inferential references to unlimited growth: commitment to SDGs (growth); commitment to Paris (growth + >2 degrees of warming); commitment to WTO/IMF/WB “rules based” economic global governance (growth); commitment to New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) and a 4th Industrial revolution (technofix growth): commitment to the circular economy – less waste, more growth …

            …and commitment to globalised BRICS, BRICS+, BEAMS, integration (more growth).

            It is the longest suicide note in history. One I cannot read as “humanity’s sole remaining, emaciated, hope.”

            NLP never worked; and it never will. Governing elites govern for elites; and share the same evolutionarily redundant fossilised-carbon mentality. If NLP is the best the paleoconservative elite have to offer: the people will have to change the paradigm for them. We are all in this together. Equally unlikely as this may seem to materialise; at least this solution has a chance of succeeding …whereas the cancer of NLP force-fed-debt-expansion growth never will?

            • Mulga Mumblebrain says

              What you say is plainly correct. My one little digression into bizarrely hopeful optimism is driven by the evidence that the Chinese leadership are generally not insane, moronic and pig ignorant, like the entire ruling elites of the West, divided as they are between the psychopathic Death-worshippers of the Trump, May, Abbott/Turnbull denialist tendency, and the prevaricating, down-playing ‘Meanswells’ of the Fraudian, Macron, ‘let’s fiddle with the settings’ crew.
              I believe that the Chinese leadership think that technology, science and effort, like massive reforestation, renewable energy, electric vehicles etc, can save the day for humanity. As you say, that is almost certainly not going to work, particularly as the deranged Anglosphere march on to auto-genocide and do their filthy worst to ‘bring China down’. But, in my opinion, it is our last hope, minuscule as it is. I have a temperamental fondness for Chinese culture and history, too, and for the CCP, for all its mistakes. However, overall, when I witness the filthy morons of our politics and media STILL downplaying climate destabilisation as a vicious drought grips the country and as the Northern Hemisphere bakes and burns, as the Great Barrier Reef dies in a matter of a decade or so, as mass tree clearances spread across the country, as water is stolen from that ‘externality’ ‘the environment’, for cotton irrigators and as the Murdoch cancer continues its vicious denialism and vendettas against renewable energy and the detested Greens (who themselves have generally sold out, including to the anti-BDS Zionists), I am fairly content to imagine 2050, perhaps 2030 as Year Zero.

          • Leslie Johnson says

            Sad, but true. In a nutshell, I believe the US is the worst player in the global community. Karma can be a bitch, and I can’t help but think that ‘we’ will get our just deserts.

  7. Harry Stotle says

    The fight against big food is virtually a rerun of the dispute with the tobacco industry.

    Scientific evidence overwhelming proves todays eating patterns (primarily in the guise of sugar and carbohydrate addiction) is the main cause of the vast majority of cardiovascular disease and diabetes not to mention a host of other medical conditions yet such facts are met with denial obfuscation or outright lies by vested interests.

    Diet kills more people than drugs, alcohol and smoking combined so you have to ask yourself why more people are not aware of this fact?
    http://glopan.org/sites/default/files/ForesightReport.pdf

    No doubt India will make exactly the same mistakes as the west for example I read somewhere that the cost of diabetes care in the US is equal to the entire GDP of Israel.

    10
    • rilme says

      Really Harry!
      Comparing “israel” to a disease is SO antisemitic!

      3
      1
  8. Helmut Taylor says

    Tink of the tax revenue surge in consequence of the induced malaise of the populace….win-win situation for the establishment; they got far too many low life living in the sub continent anyway – this is one (rather pragmatic) perspective – ottre?
    Helmut in Francoforte.

Please note the opinions expressed in the comments do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or of OffG as a whole