Policy Analysis: Globalization
The purpose of human society should be
the compassionate betterment of human beings.
H.H. the Dalia Lama
The Sexto Sol Center promotes the notion that it is possible to create a sustainable world in which all people live with dignity and enjoy good health. Vibrant international commerce does not need to be at odds with the well-being of people and local economies. We can think of the current global economy as a work in progress requiring continued scrutiny to measure it's effectiveness in creating an improvement in the quality of life for the all.
This section is a collection of information from many sources. Included is mention of inter-governmental efforts to move forward toward solving the world’s problems and links to sources of information on free trade. Current items posted are related to access to water, the implication of free trade agreements for agriculture, and public activity to contain genetically modified organisms.
See the section entitled Indigenous People for information on specific cases of indigenous communities defending their interests against resource development on their lands and other conflicts - the ultimate result of the marriage of current trade agreements and the indebtedness of countries in the Global South.
“Only when we transcend our own selfish, 'national interests' will we be able to build a harmonious world in which every problem is perceived to be a mutual problem calling for collective responsibility.” Sulak Sivaraksa
The current imbalances in international relations result from policies that disregard human well being and the health of the planet. These policies compound the problems inhertited from a legacy of colonialism in the global South and in First Nations in the North. The result is that the quality of life for millions of people living in most of the countries on the planet is deteriorating. Production and consumption patterns that do not incorporate environmental costs into the price of goods have led to a suicidal destruction of the living systems that make life possible.
The only way out of this box canyon on the road to the evolution of human society is to follow the path through one’s own heart. We must all grow beyond racism, sexism, intolerance, anger, fear and greed. It is from the unexamined notions in the minds of each of us that spring a social consensus that allows these inappropriate policies to exist. Only when we base our actions in the knowledge that All Life is Sacred will we then be able to eliminate the dysfunctional institutions and policies that are no more than mirrors of our own collective shadow.
There is nothing to fear.
If NAFTA is a success, why would the U.S. need to build a wall at its border to keep out Mexicans seeking work?
Toward ethics-based economics: Sexto Sol's contribution
Sexto Sol has a commitment to contribute to the knowledge base of effective ways to establish a more equitable and sustainable world. We participate in international forums, publish a newsletter, and write for publication. Local NGOs and government agencies seek our advice. The Sexto Sol Center was accredited for the WSSD as part of the NGO Major Group. We participated at the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD-11) in 2003, CSD-13 in 2005, and the 4th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the United Nations. We provide information on the impact of free trade, particularly in agriculture, to a group of African missions to the UN and maintain a list serve for Spanish speaking university students called Mundo Posible.
Living up to your word: Already agreed
At the World Summit for Sustainable Development, member nations of the United Nations agreed by consensus to work toward three essential goals in order to establish sustainability in our world. The opposite of sustainability is self-destruction of the species via destruction of the natural world. The essence of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) is expressed in the three agreed upon goals:
To eliminate poverty;
To change unsustainable patterns of consumption and production;
To protect and mange the natural resource base
the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness
which does not bow before children."
BECHTEL VS. BOLIVIA: THE PEOPLE WIN!!
(against the privatization of water)
January 2006 - The Bechtel Corporation signed an agreement dropping its $50 million legal case against the people of Cochabamba who opposed the attempt by the company to privatize their water during what is known as the 2000 water revolt. Quoting from Jim Shultz of the Democracy Center - "One of the biggest, most powerful corporations on Earth has been defeated by an army of concerned citizens all over the world, including many of you." see this site for more information: http://democracyctr.org/bechtel/
Access to water is a right.
Why the WTO Should Leave the Business of Agriculture to Farmers
Tamara Brennan, Ph.D., November, 2004
Land-based societies, from Bali to the Hopi Mesas, have always celebrated the cycles of planting and harvest. Farming is the primal activity that reminds us that we are sustained by the grace of this Earth. But producing food has moved far from "the sacred" in these times of seed patenting, dumping and contentious arbitration between nations. So universally destructive is the disruption created by the WTO in the way food is now produced and distributed that farmers around the world are demanding that agriculture be made off limits to governance by the international trading body.
FOOD SECURITY IS TOO IMPORTANT TO BE LEFT TO THE EXPERIMENT OF FREE TRADE
The World Trade Organization's real function is to remove all barriers to trade, be they tariffs designed to protect local producers or laws to limit introduction of products thought to be a threat to public health and the environment. Ironically, the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) was created to reduce the trade distorting practices of countries involved in trade in agricultural products. But the AoA requires developing countries to take serious risks by cutting their tariffs while it offers loopholes and ambiguous language to the wealthiest nations that allow them to provide subsidies to centralized agribusiness. These double standards result in unfair situations that have damaging effects on developing countries (1).
For example, U.S. cotton farmers make half of their income from government subsidies (2). This leads to over-production causing world prices to fall. Unwilling to be driven out of business, African cotton farmers filed for arbitration at the WTO against the unfair practices of the U.S. and won.
"Support to farmers in the 30 wealthy countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1999 exceeded the combined GDP of all the developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, in 2000 total transfers to agriculture in the OECD amounted to US$327 billion." From www.fao.org/news/
In order to move liberalization of agriculture forward following the "failure" of the 5th Ministerial in Cancun, negotiators produced a new framework to amend AoA. But as farmers groups were quick to point out, rather than reducing the trade distorting subsidies, the framework allows developed nations to juggle categories of support such that they manage to actually increase subsidies (3). This is not what the developing countries had in mind when they insisted that problems with AoA be addressed at the WTO.
THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
Poor nations are constrained by debt, structural adjustment, and even war. Along with the economic disadvantages that developing countries have to overcome in order to compete, they also suffer from the political disadvantage of being relegated, literally, to the corridors during WTO meetings while the inner circle of G-8 nations decides the language of binding agreements. Attempts by developing nations to have their demands incorporated into AoA have not been successful.
Free trade has not only reduces sovereignty, it has also interfered with the relationship between governments and the people they govern. From Pakistan to Guatemala (4), farmers' organizations point to the lack of transparency in the policies of their own governments when it comes to how they negotiate agreements that directly affect them. But as Members of the WTO, governments in developing countries are compelled to acquiesce to the rules of AoA even when it damages food security and the domestic economy. That is counter to the principles of good governance.
UNEQUAL ACCESS TO MARKETS
When we talk about tariff levels we are talking about access to markets. Rich countries want poor countries to eliminate protection of their farmers by reducing tariffs thus making it possible for them to sell their surplus to those markets to balance any trade deficit from the import of manufactured goods (5). Poor countries need to sell their products to generate export income so removal of import tariffs in developed countries is crucial if they are to have access to those markets as was the original promise of free trade. But for these nations, the door to many of their goods remains effectively closed.
One example of how access is blocked for developing nations is "tariff escalation," the phenomenon whereby as an agricultural product is processed, as value is added to the raw material, the tariffs on its import go up. This unfair practice prevents developing nations from diversifying their exports and limits them to providing raw materials for others to process. The AoA has not eliminated tariff escalation despite calls for a revision of this unfair practice by African nations.
DISPORPORTIONATE BURDEN FOR LIBERALIZING AGRICULTURE ON LDC
Agriculture is responsible for a greater portion of the output of developing countries and provides employment to large portions of their peoples. Therefore the risks of liberalizing agriculture are greater for developing nations. Around the globe, foreign competition has been devastating for developing economies.
With the radical liberalization of Philippine agriculture there has been a dramatic rise in unemployment in the agricultural sector that traditionally employed about 39% of the labor force, increasing the numbers of people who can not afford to buy food (6). Like the Philippines, Mexico is now a net food-importing country after liberalizing its agriculture. Displaced workers who make it past the militarized border go to work in the fields of subsidized agribusiness in the U.S. Their families buy the very produce that they pick with dollars they send home.
SURVIVAL OF FARMS NO LONGER IS A MATTER OF FARMING
With free trade, the price of agricultural products is now based on international production levels. Competition from foreign sources with unfair advantages like cheap labor or heavy subsidies drives local farmers out of business in their own countries. Governments no longer can protect farmers against low prices so their survival is a matter of the mysterious activity of futures traders and unpredictable events like the civil unrest in Nigeria that drives up price of oil.
Coffee is a prime example of how vulnerable farmers of export crops are. When Vietnam's first crop of coffee came to harvest four years ago, the dramatic glut of cheaply produced coffee on the market sent shock waves through the New York Board of Trade that reverberated around the world. Producing countries lost an important source of import income and 20 million coffee producers were displaced with no other opportunities to work. Chiapas, Mexico has seen the massive migration of men who have been forced by low prices and increasing debt to go north to find work. Deforestation has increased as coffee farmers enter into previously un-farmed areas to grow corn or sell off old growth forest for desperately needed cash.
FARMERS WHO TAKE THE LOWEST PRICE WIN, OR DO THEY?
Robert Anderson, who helped to set standards for organic products in the US, has suggested that Chinese farmers can overcome the impact of opening of agriculture to subsidized foreign produce by exporting to the U.S. organic market (7). But what would that do to American family farmers who have found a way to survive subsidized agribusiness by supplying this niche market? As with manufacturing, farmers around the world are forced to compete among themselves in a game in which the one able to stay in business when paid the lowest price wins.
PATENTING OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS RAISES CONCERNS
Among the many well-documented problems with the introduction of Genetically Modified products into the free-trade vegetable soup is the increased costs of patented agricultural products that are passed on to farmers. (8), Farmers are also vulnerable to expensive patent infringement suits from powerful TNCs as Canadian canola farmer Percy Schmeiser found out. Schmeiser was ordered by the Canadian Federal Court to pay damages to Monsanto for the presence of patented plants in the ditch alongside his farm. He was not compensated for contamination of his seed, the product of 50 years of careful plant breeding.
But no one can control the way pollen drifts on the wind. It makes you wonder if we should be worried about those indigenous corn farmers whose maize was contaminated with biotech intellectual property in the far reaches of Mexico?
FOOD STOCKS ARE CONTROLED BY FEW TRANSNATIONALS
Farmers do not sell their crops on the global market, middlemen do (9). These companies are largely invisible in the negotiation process at WTO but their vested interest and political power are tremendous. Biotech companies have long been trying to force their genetically modified products on a reluctant world by applying pressure through the WTO.
During the drought in Southern Africa in 2002, Genetically Modified corn was offered as food relief. In a bold move to protect seed integrity and public health, Zambia led the fight to reject GMO food aid. The headlines in a Zambian newspaper read that in essence the World Food Organization has said, "EAT GMO OR DIE."
RELIANCE ON IMPORTED FOOD IS NOT FOOD SECURITY
As more domestically produced food is replaced by imported foods, governments no longer measure food security in terms of the capacity of the nation's farmers to feed the population. Instead they take into account quantities of imported food. This ignores that fact that the availability of imported food is vulnerable to price distortions by transnational monopolies and geopolitical factors that could affect delivery of food. According to the global farmer's organization Via Campesina, to eradicate hunger governments must be in control of protecting domestic food production toward establishing what is more rightly termed "food sovereignty."
DEPENDANCE ON OIL
Had the internal combustion engine not been created, we would buy our food from the farmer down the road and our communities would be self-sustaining. In reality, political interests have led to a war to keep the oil pumping so that tankers and semis will continue ferrying goods produced on one side of the globe to the other. This ill-advised course leads to the further deterioration of the natural resource base of the planet with greenhouse gases destroying the balance of the planetary climate system, and leaves the transportation system that brings us our food vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
THE FOX GUARDING THE CHICKEN COOP
A basic moral question underlies our discomfort with the WTO directing trade in agriculture. Given that food sustains life, should it be treated like any other manufactured commodity? We know that we can not afford to stand by while governments allow trade barons to apply failed economic models on a hungry world. Under their rule, today, in more households than yesterday, people will have to face their hungry children with nothing to give them. The World deserves better.
(1) Pal, Parthapratim, no date or journal, reprinted on website. "Implementation Issues of the Agreement on Agriculture and its Implications for Developing Countries. Appears to be from a peer-reviewed journal.
(2) Mittal, Anradha, Summer 2002, "Giving Away the Farm: The 2002 Farm Bill" Institute for Food and Development Policy.
(3) Atencio, Joel, no date listed, "Farmers group wary of WTO paper on agriculture", Manila Bulletin Online.
(4) Prensa Libre, May 6, 2004, "Acuerdo de Libre Comercio con Chile en Camino."
(5) Journal article outlining history of trade deficit and use of agricultural subsidies. Paper currently buried in a pile on my desk. Sorry. Write if you really need this reference. firstname.lastname@example.org
(6) Chavez, Jenny J.; Manahan, Mary Ann, & Purgganan, Joseph, "Hunger on the Rise in the Philippines", Focus on Trade, Number 105. October 2004
(7) No author listed, "Farmers Feel Impact of WTO Entry," China Daily, October 22, 2002.
(8) Sharma, Ashok B., "New Patent Regime: Concerns Center Around Rise in Prices", Financial Express, November 15, 2004, (IATP Headlines)
(9) Murphy, Sophia, September 2001, Food Security and the WTO, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
Who is Accountable to Whom in the Global Economy?
"The internationalization of production and investment raises a fundamental question of accountability: to whom will national economic policymakers be accountable? The implicit answer provided by the globalization model is that they will be accountable to foreign investors, country-fund managers in London and New York and a relatively small group of domestic exporters in the globalized economy. These are the groups that determine whether an economy is judged a success or not, and whether it will prosper.
This would not necessarily be a bad thing if the invisible hand of global markets could always be relied on to produce desirable outcomes. The reality is considerably more murky. It takes too much blind faith in markets to believe that the global allocation of resources is enhanced by the twenty-something year-olds in London who move hundreds of millions of dollars around the world in a matter of an instant, or by the executives of multinational enterprises who make plant decisions on the basis of the concessions they can extract from governments. Consequently, governments and policy advisors alike have to stop thinking of international economic integration as an end in itself. Developing nations have to engage the world economy on their own terms, not on terms set by global markets or multilateral institutions. Dani Rodrick, Harvard University as quoted in "Globalization and Grantmakers" by Carolyn. L. Deere.
Governments open the way for the privatization of water at CSD 13
At the 13th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development at the United Nations governments came up with an agreement on how to further the goals of providing water, sanitation and safe human settlements to the world’s poor as part of fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals. Representatives of the major groups, Women, Farmers, Indigenous Peoples, NGOs (including Sexto Sol), Youth, Local government and Science and Business were present to dialog with government negotiators. The outcome of that two week session opened the way for the privatization of water throughout the world by not declaring access to water as a right.
The following is the message to the Commission on Sustainable Development at the United Nations from the Indigenous Environmental Network
Water is Life: the recognition, as a guiding principle, that “water connects and regulates planet earth as the sacred mat of life” by nourishing the land and all living organisms, including human beings.
An ethical framework based upon respect for life-giving water and its cultural manifestations is of critical importance for water, sanitation and human settlement policy. Humanity must declare all water sources as sacred sites.
Underlying the global water crisis is not just a governance crisis, but also a cultural crisis. Water is a vital resource, having economic, ecological, social and spiritual functions. Relations between peoples and their environment are embedded in culture. Water is life; physical, emotional and spiritual. It should not be considered merely as an economic resource.
Sharing water is an ethical imperative and expression of human solidarity. The intimate relationship between water and peoples should be explicitly taken into account in all decision-making processes.
Cultural diversity, developed during the millennia by human societies, constitutes a treasure of sustainable practices and innovative approaches. Indigenous knowledge holders should be full partners with scientists to find solutions for water-related and human settlement issues.
Education is necessary to learn about the sacredness of water as well as the inclusion of indigenous and traditional laws are needed to “protect water for future generations of all plants and animals.”
Indigenous Environmental Network, email@example.com
"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini
"WHAT ABOUT FIRST AMMENDMENT RIGHTS IN THE U.S.? November, 2003
From the 50's through the 90's, economic power was concentrated through the use of proxy governments in nations that were in practice de facto colonies of foreign corporations that extracted resource and labor wealth. The restructuring of such nations to better serve the needs of these interests was accomplished through structural adjustment and enforced by political violence promoted by the U.S. military as evidenced by the training program in torture it operated at the School of the Americas.
Recall that during the end of the 90s there was talk that the CIA would change roles to that of protecting American trade interests. Now with the world's productivity and markets held in the snare of free trade, the next generation of political violence is that of repressive state police attacking those who would oppose the further globalizaiton of the world. Violence against peaceful protesters while they exercised their constitutionally protected right to express dissention has been on the increase from Seattle to Quito. Recently, it reached a new level of brutality in Miami, Florida during the FTAA meeting.
Reports of extreme police brutality, torture and sexual assalt of detainees in jail should be of concern to all Americans and signal a "heads up" for all interested in self-determination in the face of corporate control of government.
It should be noted that the Mexican government maintained a peaceful atmosphere throughout the WTO meeting in Cancun. This tolerance of dissent is the model for other nations that host such meetings.
"Hace 2000 años, como dijo un carpintero sencillo y descalzo, 'Amemonos los unos a los otros', pero ustedes intendieron mal, 'Armamosnos unos en contra de los otros'."
From Globalization and its Discontents, 2002, W.W. Norton & Company, New York. Joseph E. Stiglitz writing on the IMF’s role in aggravating the 1997 East Asian Financial Crisis:
“Here was a true irony--- if such a gentle word can be used. In October 1997, at the very beginning of the crisis, the Fund was advocating the expansion of precisely those policies which underlay the increasing frequency of crises. As an academic, I was shocked that the IMF and the U.S. Treasury would push this agenda with such force, in the face of a virtual absence of theory and evidence suggestion that it is was in the economic interests of either the developing countries or global economic stability—and in the presence of evidence to the contrary. Surely, one might have argued, there must be some basis for their position, beyond serving the naked self-interest of financial markets, which saw capital market liberalization as just another form of market access—more markets in which to make more money. “
Genetically Modified Organisms
From the Organic Consumer’s Association newsletter No. 80, April 2006: A new survey in India has found genetically engineered cotton (Bt Cotton) is causing negative health effects among farm workers. The survey, covering six villages, reported, "All the evidence gathered during the investigation shows that Bt has been causing skin, upper respiratory tract and eye allergies among persons exposed to cotton." The people affected did not have previous histories of allergies to cotton. One woman in the report had such a severe reaction to the biotech cotton she had to be removed from the fields and was taken to Barwani District Hospital where she remained for 9 days. Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/illness060426.cfm
And also: The Nestlé Corporation, the world's largest food manufacturer, has successfully secured a patent on genetically modified coffee.
Food First newsletter, We are Fighting Back, number 21, May, 2004
Vermont Signs Nation's First GM Labeling Law
With a stroke of the pen, Gov. James Douglas made Vermont the first state in the nation to require manufacturers to label their genetically engineered seed products.
Beginning October 1, 2004, all genetically engineered seeds must be labeled and their sales must be reported to the state's secretary of agriculture each year.
After two years of campaigning in the House and the Senate, and countless hours of grass roots effort, campaigners for Rural Vermont and GE Free Vermont were delighted when the measure passed both the Vermont House and the Senate and was given to Gov. Douglas, who signed the measure immediately.
"This is a great first step for Vermont to enact this right-to-know bill" said Amy Shollenberger, policy director of Rural Vermont.
No one knows the amount of genetically engineered crops planted in Vermont. However the Vermont Genetic Engineering Action Network estimates the figure to be somewhere between 20 to 40 percent.
Rural Vermont, a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to defending small farms, and GE Free Vermont, a coalition of farmers, public interest groups, businesses and citizens, continue to pressure lawmakers to pass the Farmer Protection Act, a bill to protect farmers from frivolous biotech industry lawsuits.
Monsanto Seeks to Prevent Legislation to Protect Local Agriculture from GMOs
From Organic Bytes #58 of the Organic Consumer Association, 5/24/2005:
NEW "MONSANTO LAWS" AIM TO MUTE COMMUNITY RIGHTS
Responding to the growing number of localities whose citizens are voting to regulate or even ban genetically engineered crops, the biotech industry, led by Monsanto and Syngenta, has brought new legislation to ten states in the U.S. that would remove the rights of communities to have any control of agricultural regulations in their area. On one side of the issue, citizens and farmers in counties that have banned GE crops, like Mendocino, Calif., say they have a right to protect their predominantly organic county from contamination by GE pollen from neighboring crops. On the other side of the issue, the biotech industry is investing tens of millions of dollars to remove these local rights, saying anti-GE citizens and farmers "lack the education to make these kinds of decisions." http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto/laws052005.cfm
From Food First Late breaking news:
The International Seed Treaty, also known as the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which is intended to preserve food security and sustainable agriculture, went into effect June 29. But family farmers may still be in peril. Read more:
From Organic Bytes #38 of the Organic Consumer Association 8/12/2004
INDIAN FARMERS RETURNING TO TRADITIONAL ORGANIC PRACTICES
Last week organic farmers and experts in India organized to address the agriculture crisis facing the nation's 700 million farmers. Poor yields, degraded soils, and expensive chemical inputs arising from the cultivation of pesticide intensive crops, including genetically engineered cotton, have devastated India's rural economy. Crop failures and crushing debt led over 300 Indian farmers to commit suicide between May and July. To address this crisis, farmers from all over the country joined together August 2 to create the "Organic Vision 2020," a long term strategy to shift the country's farming focus back to ecological and traditional organic practices.
Reprinted from the Food First newsletter, We are Fighting Back number 40, March, 2005
Grassroots Pressure Scraps New York Wal-Mart Plans
Residents and unions successfully pressured Vornado Reality Trust to cancel plans to build what would have been the first Wal-Mart in New York City.
When Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced its plans to build the 132,000 square foot store in the borough of Queens last December, a coalition of small businesses, residents and unions immediately formed to stop the store. Last Thursday, the developer, Vornado, pulled out.
"New York is one tough customer, and if you want to do business with us, you must clean up your act," said Brian Mclaughlin, President of the New York City Central Labor Council/AFL-CIO.
Nationwide, reports of Wal-mart's anti-union stance, intimidation tactics, and low wages are galvanizing communities to fight the Superstore's onslaught...
Four months after a Burger King and a Wal-Mart opened in Tapachula, Chiapas 38 medium sized businesses closed.
Genetically Modified Foods and Seeds
The Third World Network publishes comprehensive analyses of the problems associated with GMOs for agriculture and human health.
The controversy surrounding Genetically Modified Organisms, the patented life forms owned by companies within the Biotechnology Industry, is relevant to the topic of Globalization since the ability of nations to reject entry of these organisms has been subverted by the rules of the WTO, the World Trade Organization. In general, any national law, ordinance or policy that prevents a foreign company from introducing its unwanted products into that market is considered illegal under WTO rules and the government is therefore liable open to the corporation for lost hypothetical revenue. As such the Marine Mammal Protection Act of the United States could be struck down as a barrier to trade.
Attempts by the EU and African countries to keep GMO foods and seeds out of their stomachs and their fields has made them vulnerable to sanctions. The United States has filed suit with the WTO to force the EU to approve importation of Genetically Modified foods despite overwhelming public opposition.
All children are taught to respect the wishes of others. What happened to just being polite?
According to Jane Sooby of the Organic Farming Research Foundation, Monsanto recently announced that it is suspending sales of Round-Up Ready Wheat seed. This product was modified such that it would not be damaged by Monsanto's herbicide Round-Up. This allowed farmers to spray the crop with the chemical to control weeds. Presence of genetically modified wheat in the environment led to contamination of neighoring fields of true strains of wheat affecting organic farmers and those whose crop was planned for export to countries that disallowed entry of modified foods.
Recent research on cabbage modified to contain the toxin produce by the Bt bacterium showed that moths that are resistant to Bt actually thrived when eating cabbage with Bt. Bt is has been used effectly by organic farmers to control cabbage moths and other pests. Bt resistance in successive generations of pests was caused by prolonged exposure to the bacterium in modified plants and is an example of what some call the problem of GM technology leading to the development of super pests.
Most Americans Would Shun Food Labeled "Genetically Modified," Seeds of Change newsletter, August, 2003
A recent survey conducted by ABC news of 1,024 adults reports 93 percent said the federal government should require labels on food that has been genetically modified (GM). Furthermore, 55 percent of Americans surveyed said they would avoid foods carrying a GM label. 52 % reported that they would be more likely to purchase foods labeled as organically raised. The European Union recently passed laws requiring labeling of GM foods, and requiring the food industry to segregate biotech crops from conventional ones.
Nearly 80 % of US soybeans and 40 percent of US corn, ingredients found in most processed foods, is genetically modified, mostly for resistance to herbicides.From the European Fair Trade Association Advocacy Newsletter www.eftafairtrade.org
The (European) Commission's approach to sustainable trade focuses on exploiting niche markets, providing technical assistance and developing a European accreditation system for sustainably produced goods.
However, the success of each of these initiatives will remain limited if not matched by a fundamental change in trading rules. The current approach would benefit a small number of producers and farmers in the South, as large multinational businesses could buy into the sustainability niche, without having to amend their overall social and environmental performance. Large-scale improvements won't be possible without the development of a more equitable trading relationship between North and South, the translation of sustainability into common business practice and the ability of developing countries to protect vulnerable markets and producers from the effects of trade liberalisation.
PLAN PUEBLA PANAMA
One of the methods of globalization is to create large regional free trade zones in which trade barriers are reduced. While some economists say that NAFTA has helped the Mexican economy, the experience of most Mexicans is the contrary.
(Posted August 2003) The Usumacinta River, flowing from northern Guatemala into Mexico, forms the biological backbone of the largest tropical rainforest north of the Amazon. A remnant of the lush jungle that once blanketed Central America, the watershed is home to ocelots, crocodiles, howler and spider monkeys, and many tropical and migratory songbirds -- as well as archaeological sites so significant they've been called the Maya Vatican.
Despite these treasures, the Mexican government plans to build a massive series of dams on the Usumacinta, flooding large swaths of the Lacandon Rainforest and potentially submerging irreplaceable Maya monuments at Guatemala's Piedras Negras and Mexico's Yaxchilán -- and displacing as many as 50,000 people.
The linchpin of this system would be the $5 billion Boca del Cerro dam, which could receive funding through a regional initiative called the Plan Puebla Panama that is being financed by the Inter-American Development Bank. The Boca del Cerro would take an enormous economic and ecological toll, flooding 153 square miles of vital habitat in Mexico and 108 square miles in Guatemala. This mega-dam has been proposed twice before, but local communities -- who would bear the burdens of the dam without receiving many of its benefits -- have rejected it soundly. NRDC is supporting local groups in their efforts to stop the dam once again.Extracted from The Roaring Nineties: Seeds of Destruction, Joseph Stiglitz; published by Allen Lane, Copyright Joseph Stiglitz 2003
Not surprisingly, the policies we
Even if our economy had not faltered, our global strategy was not likely to succeed. It was based on forcing countries in the third world to adopt policies that were markedly different from those we ourselves had adopted. It was based on our putting aside principles - principles of social justice, equity fairness, that we stressed at home - to get the best bargain we could for American special interests.
The fact is that the world has become economically interdependent, and only by creating equitable international arrangements can we bring stability to the global marketplace.
This will require a spirit of cooperation that is not built by brute force, by dictating inappropriate conditions in the midst of a crisis, by bullying, by imposing unfair trade treaties, or by pursuing hypocritical trade policies - all of which are part of the hegemonic legacy that the US established in the 1990s but seem to have become worse in the next administration.