- Published on Sunday, 22 July 2012 00:45
- Written by ANNE OUTWATER
- Hits: 885
Despite incredible claims by corporation spokespeople, the data shows that genetically engineered food plants are not yielding as advertised, they are dangerous to the health of everything from microorganisms to human beings, they are crossing over into the natural environment, producing super-weeds so that even more herbicide is poured on to compensate.
You have to ask, “Who benefits from this type of “agriculture”? I am looking at a haunting graph. I would like to show it to you but it will not be clear in newsprint. It is about the impact of Green Revolution technologies on farm income. The setting is Canada. The source data was compiled by the statistics department of the Canadian government.
The title of the figure is: Farmer’s gross revenue, net income and technology adoption: 1947-2002. Gross revenue: how much the agriculture sector has earned. Net income: how much the farmers have earned. Technology adoption: the years when chemical fertilizer, tractors, electrification, herbicides, and GMOs were introduced into the agricultural process.
The X axis is years; the Y axis is billions of dollars which have been adjusted for inflation. There are two lines moving from the Y axis. The black one goes up and the red one goes down. The black one is gross farm revenue; it moves upwards with some peaks and valleys and an overall gain from about 19 billion dollars in 1947 to 35 billion dollars in 2002.
The red line is moving down with peaks and valleys from about 11 billion dollars in 1947 to 4 billion dollars in year 2002. The overall gain for the farmer is decreasing, even as agriculture revenue is increasing tremendously. In 1942 in Canada, the profit for the farmer was 11 billion from income of 19 billion; for every dollar invested, $0.58 was profit.
In 2002 the profit was 4 billion from an income of 36 billion; for every dollar invested the profit was $0.11. Who is capturing the difference? The corporations. Here’s how it has gone. Chemical fertilizer has been a steady input since the mid 1940’s.
The graph is very neat and it is possible to see that when fertilizer usage tripled the rise in farmer profit spiked dramatically, but there is even larger spike for the gross revenues. Meaning, there was a crop gain from the fertilizer, but not enough to cover the cost of the fertilizer.
Meanwhile the land which had once been incredibly rich and fertile soil, (the reason farmers had migrated there in the first place), was becoming needier and needier. By 2002 fertilizer usage had multiplied twenty times. In the mid 1940’s there was mass adoption of tractors and combines.
Net income rose a bit and then dipped. This was mirrored by a rise in gross revenue and then a dip. The percentage of profit to gross revenue stayed about the same. Then it started to fall. Electrification, power tools, electric pumps were introduced into the mid-1950’s.
The gross revenues started to increase even as the farmers’ income had plateau’d. The ratio of farmer profit to gross revenue was spreading apart – that is, gross income was becoming proportionally larger. The first herbicides were widely adopted in the 1960’s.
Gross revenues continued to increase and farm income to decrease. In the mid 1970’s glyphosates (like Monsanto’s Round Up) were adopted and farm income went up – but gross revenues went up further. Farmers were hiring fewer workers, but paying more to the corporations for the poison.
Then in the mid 1990’s genetically modified crops, the latest weapon in the arsenal of industrial agriculture, were introduced. Farmer profits plateau at 3-4.5 million, even as gross revenue rises to 35 billion.
The two lines on the graph move farther and farther apart as the revenue: profit ratio widens over the years – they look like a crocodile with its mouth open. Gross revenue has doubled in the years that farmer profit decreased by two-thirds. Where did the difference go?
To the corporations which are providing the inputs. Now we are at a point, in the world, where chemical companies (for examples Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta) have bought the seed companies. Now they are selling seeds that withstand their pesticides and herbicides.
This is the model - an industrial agricultural system dependent on commercial seeds and chemical inputs - followed by companies such as Agrisol who want to “rent” hundreds of thousands of hectares of prime land in Tanzania. People rightfully fear that this model is the “Green Revolution” for Africa trying to be brought in by AGRA.