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Food Is Different:
Why we must get the WTO out of Agriculture


by Peter M. Rosset

Why does our global food system give us expensive, unhealthy and bad-tasting food, where we pay more for packaging and long-distance  shipping than we do for the food itself?   Why do farmers and  peasants from around the world lead massive protests each and every  time the World Trade Organization (WTO) meets?

Peter Rosset explains how the runaway free trade policies and neo-liberal economics of the WTO, American government and European Union kill farmers, and give us a food system that nobody outside a small corporate elite wants.

This essential guide sets out an alternative vision for agricultural policy, taking it completely out of the WTO's ambit. Food is not just another commodity, to be bought and sold like a microchip, but something which goes to the heart of human livelihood, culture and society.

'Food is Different makes the case, with clarity and passion, for rebuilding the global food system beyond the unequal and devastating consequences of the WTO 'free trade' regime. Rosset guides us through the thicket of rules and regulations, explaining their irreversible impact on social and ecological sustainability and engaging us with a powerful and compelling catalogue of alternatives, captured in the 
concept of "food sovereignty."'

- Philip McMichael, Cornell University

'Food is Different comes at a time where the WTO is being criticized and discredited by both  governments and civil society, and it brings to the fore the real alternatives being proposed by social movements all over the world.  This is a timely publication that gives voice and expression to those who have none.'

- Paul Nicholson, European Farmers Coordination (CPE) and La Via Campesina

'Peter Rosset eloquently illustrates that good is the basis of human existence and that it intertwines the lives of farmers, consumers and the environment.  Food is Different should be read by all who are willing to build food sovereignty on a local, regional and global level as well as by those who believe the current WTO system is working - it will change their minds.'

- Andrianna Natsoulas, Food and Water Watch

Contents

Prologue: Speak the Truth:  Exclude the WTO from Agriculture, by Lee Kyung Hae
Foreword: Farmers Around the World Lose out Under the WTO, by George Naylor
Introduction: What is Food?  Trade versus Development?
1. Trade Negotiations and Trade Liberalization
2. Key Issues, Misconceptions, Points of Disagreement and Alternative Paradigms
3. Dumping and Subsidies:  Unravelling the Confusion
4. The Impact of Liberalized Agricultural Trade
5. Alternatives for a Different Agriculture and Food System
Conclusion - Another Food System is Possible
Special Topics:
How the WTO Rules Agriculture
Government Negotiating Blocs
Where European and American Family Farmers Stand
Where Peasant and Family Farm Organizations Stand
Food from Family Farms Act: a Proposal for the 2007 US Farm Bill
For a Legitimate, Sustainable and Supportive CAP
People's Food Sovereignty Statement

About the Author

Peter Rosset is a food rights activist and agro-ecologist.  He is based in Chiapas, Mexico, where he is a researcher at the Centro de  Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo Mexicano (Center for Studies of  Rural Change in Mexico), and co-coordinator of the Land Research  Action Network (http://www.landaction.org).  He is also Global  Alternatives Associate of the Center for the Study of the Americas  and is a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Environmental Science,  Policy & Management of  the University of California.  His previous  books include: The Case for GM-Free Sustainable World (2003);  Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production  in Cuba (2002); and World Hunger: Twelve Myths (1998), among others.

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Review - BOOK:  Pandemonium: Bird Flu, Mad Cow
Disease and Other Biological Plagues of the 21st
Century
 
by Andrew Nikiforuk

TheTyee.ca

September 28, 2006  Andrew Nikiforuk's /Pandemonium: Bird Flu, Mad Cow Disease and Other Biological Plagues of the 21st Century/ is an annoying but important book.

The veteran Calgary journalist describes the increasingly nasty diseases -- avian flu, MRSA (methicillin- resistant /Staph aureus/), and mad cow disease -- that find increasingly rapid ways to spread. He also describes the animals, from zebra mussels to bullfrogs to farmed salmon, whose equally rapid spread has disrupted ecosystems around the planet. We are both vectors and victims of these plagues.

Although /Pandemonium/ employs an irritatingly chatty style (Nikiforuk tells us, for example, that H5N1 "flattened a flamingo," "gobbled up birds and people" and "continues its quest for global citizenship, " "hitching a ride on untreated poultry manure, smuggled birds, and poultry trucks"), it's still a very good survey of the ecological chaos we've provoked. These are plagues we have inflicted on ourselves, the direct result of accelerating global trade, travel and migration. We tend to notice them when they pop up in the media, and then to forget them as soon as the media turn elsewhere. 

Nikiforuk hasn't forgotten. When he talks about livestock plagues like the spongiform encephalopathies, he goes back to rinderpest and the social and ecological devastation the cattle virus caused in Africa a century ago. When he discusses the threat of today's plant diseases, it's in the context of Ireland's potato famine and the wheat rusts of ancient Rome. 

The concise historical summaries of earlier plagues and blights make it clear that we now face similar problems -- but with far higher stakes and far fewer alternative resources. 

For the full review see: http://thetyee. ca/Books/ 2006/09/28/ Pandemonium/

 
'Pandemonium' Details Our Plagues

* Pandemonium
* Andrew Nikiforuk
* Viking Canada (2006)
* Bookstore Finder <
http://thetyee. ca/Books/ Bookstores>

Organic, Inc.   By Samuel Fromartz    Harcourt, 294 pages, $32.95
 
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060802.CABOOKS02/TPStory/Business

Wisdom sown in organic field

There's a lesson in that: If you give customers something they prize, in a world that seems to ignore their wishes, they will go beyond being customers to serving as advocates -- and even in some cases reach into their bank account to help you grow.

In the past decade, organic food has grown in public consciousness. It's more than a means of avoiding harm from pesticides. It's a social and political statement about nutrition, good health and environmental consciousness. In some cases, as with Mr. Crawford, there's an added lure of buying directly from an independent farmer who planted and nursed the seeds nearby. But in other cases, organic means big business rather than small business, as Whole Foods spreads its alternative supermarkets across the continent and purveyors of soy milk and bagged organic lettuce similarly span North America.

Business writer Samuel Fromartz charts the growth of that industry -- and probes its inherent tensions -- in Organic, Inc., offering lessons to those who run both large and small businesses, particularly with a social thrust.

Leadership and management lessons can come from books devoted to specific issues, but they also can be picked up from reading about how businesses have overcome -- or failed to overcome -- challenges.

Organic foods would have seemed a poor bet a few decades ago for successful businesses, yet some idealists embraced the notion of pure foods, applied business techniques and prospered. Mr. Fromartz traces the industry from the small, British organic movement of the 1920s, through the 1970s back-to-the-land movement in North America, to today, where large organic food businesses can afford to divert some of their profits to a research and promotional institute for organic food.

The organic food industry has been growing 10 to 20 per cent a year but interestingly the number of new consumers buying such product has stalled in the past two years, he finds, perhaps running up against a price barrier or a natural limit to the number of devotees.

Organic farming is a movement, but it's also a business. Mr. Fromartz reports how Jim Cochran, a central figure in the creation of the organic strawberry industry on California's central coast, for a period kept broccoli off his sales list so competitors wouldn't realize how effective it is in crop rotation, inhibiting a potent fungal disease, verticillium wilt. Keeping their success formula a secret, he notes, is "a common strategy among farmers torn between a desire to spread organic methods and an urge to maintain a competitive edge."

The industry, like agriculture in general, has become bifurcated as large-scale organic farmers have become dominant. Earthbound Farms, which started on a 2½-acre garden plot, is now selling $360-million annually of bagged lettuce, driving down prices and making smaller producers uncompetitive.

As well, traditional food corporations, sensing an opportunity, have entered the field. Mr. Fromartz observes how Kellogg Co., which has its roots in John Harvey Kellogg's health spa, bought one of the better known health cereal brands today, Kashi, but keeps its name off the box to avoid tarnishing the brand, which in Sanskrit means "food for spiritual enlightenment."

In 2004, when organic farmers in New York State met, they were asked whether they were a movement or an industry. The small-scale farmers present all declared they were a movement but the reality is different, as the need to hold such a discussion indicated.

"The growth of organic food had come at an awful price, compromising standards, undercutting small firms, diluting healthy food, ignoring social justice -- polluting the very ideals embodied in the word organic," Mr. Fromartz writes. "The path that agrarian idealists had taken in the 1970s -- to farm in concert with nature and sell organic food outside the dominant food system -- became compromised by its success. Organic food had become too popular to remain in a backwoods niche, morphing into yet another food industry profit centre."

The book is nicely framed, as Mr. Fromartz follows his own growing interest in tasty, healthful foods to move from his kitchen table to the farms and boardrooms that bring him -- and us -- our foods. It's comprehensive, filled with interesting information on the industry, but balanced and always easy to read. The focus, however, is American, and so important issues, such as regulation for Canadians, aren't covered, although the U.S. legislative experience is eye opening, as traditional agricultural interests fight to twist organic legislation to their ends.

In Addition: A book on a box seems odd, but Marc Levinson's The Box (Princeton University Press, 376 pages, $28.50) is a fascinating account of how entrepreneur Malcolm McLean changed our world by developing the shipping container, which could be stacked efficiently in huge numbers on ocean vessels and then be carried from a few massive deepwater ports on trucks or railroad cars. It enables today's globalization of goods, and Mr. Levinson is deft in describing the resulting changes in the industry -- the battles over traditional stevedore jobs, the ascendancy of new ports, the growth of transportation giants -- and the impact on the larger society, including the pivotal role played by these shipping containers in the Vietnam War.

Just In: Competition expert Michael Porter of Harvard University teams with Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg of the University of Virginia to examine health care as measured by health outcomes per dollar expended in Redefining Health Care (Harvard Business School Press, 506 pages, $44.95).

harvey@harveyschachter.com


Earth Democracy

Boldly confronting the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, world-renowned physicist/activist Vandana Shiva responds with Earth Democracy, or, as she prophetically names it, "The People's Project for a New Planetary Millennium." A leading voice in the struggle for global justice and sustainability, here Shiva describes what earth democracy could look like, outlining the bedrock principles for building living economies, living cultures, and living democracies.

http://www.southendpress.org/2005/items/EarthDem 


Big Agriculture's Big Lie

A Kansas editor says our assembly-line approach to growing our food is actually contributing to world hunger -- and explains why buying local and buying organic is so important.  

By Ira Boudway

July 15, 2005

If George Pyle thought at all about farming when he joined a Kansas newspaper 27 years ago, he thought it sounded like a pretty boring beat for a young reporter. Beyond that, he was ready to go along with what most people seemed to believe: Agriculture was destined to become completely industrialized, and farmers should rejoice at being relieved of such humble work. But after joining the editorial staff at the Salina Journal -- where Bob Dole famously referred to him as "that liberal editor from Salina" during the '96 campaign -- Pyle found that to be able to do his job he had to care about farming.

"For a Kansas newspaper editor to have no opinion on farm issues," he writes in the prologue to his new book, "Raising Less Corn, More Hell," "would be akin to a Florida counterpart having no thoughts on Medicare." The more questions he asked, the more he began to doubt the prevailing wisdom among land-grant university professors and agribusiness managers that fewer and fewer farmers ought to be growing more and more food on ever larger plots of land.

In the course of three decades as a newspaper writer, Pyle went from feeling that the "farm beat" was like covering the progress of a glacier to understanding that the real story of agriculture in America is quite dramatic. In Pyle's view, our farming culture is based on one big bad idea and one big fat lie.

"The bad idea," he writes, "is the increasing concentration -- economic, political, and genetic -- of the ways in which our food is produced." The lie behind it is that "the world is either short of food or risks being short of food in the near future." With the help of an editorial writers' fellowship, and later as the director of the Prairie Writers Circle at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, Pyle took time away from his daily deadlines to research a book on the American farm economy.

"Raising Less Corn, More Hell" is dedicated to the memory of his father, who was raised on a Kansas farm, but Pyle is no sentimentalist when it comes to the fate of family farms. What the agricultural economy needs, he argues, is a truly free market -- not one kept afloat by federal subsidies and unaccounted environmental damage. The root cause of hunger, he claims, is usually a lack of money.  Yet the fear of not having enough food has driven the rise of chemical fertilizers, massive machinery, genetically modified seed, and whatever else will help squeeze greater yields out of every acre.

Meanwhile, the true costs of the industrial system -- eroded soil and depleted aquifers, polluted water and air, desperate and indebted farmers, rundown main streets, unhealthy diets, and a food supply at risk -- are not factored into the price of food.

Even as we push to grow more, the government subsidizes farmers for growing less. The subsidies continually fail to keep up with gains in production, leading to a surplus of food that costs less than it should. This gets shipped abroad and cripples the efforts of third-world countries to develop their own agricultural base. And so the system fails even on its promise to feed the world.

In "Raising Less Corn, More Hell," Pyle has collected the various strands of the long-standing case against industrial agriculture into a compact polemic or -- perhaps more fitting for the work of a practiced editorial writer -- into one long, impassioned Op-Ed. He recently spoke with Salon from his desk at the Salt Lake Tribune.

* * *

You mention in your prologue that when you started as a newspaper writer in 1977, you didn't imagine yourself ever writing a book arguing against industrial agriculture. How did you wind up thinking that was what you should write?

Well, I didn't think I'd be writing anything about agriculture. It seemed dull. And the prevailing wisdom at the time was that even farmers thought it was dull and that pushing them out of the business and turning it over to industry was doing them a favour, sparing them the unremitting toil of bumpkins. As a reporter and then later as an editorial writer I tended to accept the idea that this was the way things were going and that there wasn't any point in protesting it. But there were other voices, from farmers and from consumer activists, who were trying to tell me that that wasn't the case, that there were other ways to go and that some decisions that had been made by large agribusinesses and by government were distorting the natural process as opposed to its just being this natural evolution of things. 

I think a lot of people might be surprised by the title of your book, by the suggestion that we should be growing less of anything. Could briefly explain why growing less is a good idea?

Most of the problem both for farmers and for people in the world who are hungry or malnourished is not an undersupply but an oversupply that ripples through the economy. Starting in the Depression, the problem was that even dirt-poor, uneducated farmers were producing way more crops than the economy could afford to buy. So the idea was that we would take some land out of production, even destroy crops, and just give farmers money so they can stay in business at least another year. That way they won't just plant and produce as much as they can.

Most farmers can't afford to do what an industry would do in a flooded market -- slow down the production line or lay people off. If you're halfway through the year and it looks like your field of wheat is not going to make much money, but there's a big market for sunflower seeds, it's too late to tear up the wheat and plant sunflower seeds.

Ideally, if you match the supply with the demand, farmers can make a living off the market -- not off the government. But every time you take land out of production, that's accompanied by a new strain of hybrid corn or a new process, so that even though there are fewer acres, there are more crops. Taking land out of production doesn't lower the yields; it also doesn't raise the number of people who are buying.

Is the problem of not having enough cash to buy the food mainly encountered in the developing world?

Well, you'll see it in poor neighbourhoods in America, but, yeah, just about in every case, whether it's in the developing world or in New York, hunger is caused by too little money, not by too little food. And even in cases where there have been huge famines in Africa and Asia, it's not because there wasn't any food, it's because they didn't have any money to buy food with. There would be relief efforts, but sometimes in the next country, the next province or the next village, you would have plenty of food. The people who were hungry were hungry because they were broke. 

If we were to grow less and to get away from subsidies, would that help put cash in the pockets of people who can't afford to buy enough food?

It's the only thing that we might do. I can't guarantee that this would be successful in Africa, but I do know that what we're doing hurts, and what the European Union is doing as well. They have a slightly different way of subsidizing their farmers, but the effect is the same. We sell or give rice, cotton and corn on the world market for less than it really costs to produce it -- and certainly for less than farmers in Africa or Asia can afford to produce it -- so they go out of business or become simple subsistence farmers.

They move to the cities. There aren't enough jobs for them, so you get huge slums and disease, AIDS, prostitution, child slavery, ripe planting grounds for distrust and terrorism, because they're not able to make the agricultural base of their economies work.

Now, if tomorrow we did what I think is the right thing, phase out the subsidies and support our own farmers by paying them to care for land instead of maxing out production and consequently stop flooding foreign markets, they wouldn't all automatically turn into successful farmers in Africa. They've got lots of problems with bad government, corruption and war that make it difficult.

You mention in your prologue that many advocates for small farms are dismissed for "fuzzy-headed nostalgia." You're pretty careful to distance yourself from that kind of sentimental reasoning. How do you make your case without indulging in it?

It is difficult. I do think that the real advocates, especially those who are also farmers, they understand that it's a market they're in. They understand that they have to have a product that people want to buy. They are hoping that the government will not get in their way, that academia will not put all of its efforts into inventing things that are good on a huge scale and have little application on a small scale, like GPS systems for levelling fields. I think they think that they can do pretty well in a truly open market, as opposed to the one that's distorted by our failure to enforce environmental and antitrust laws. That would give them a chance.

So they're generally not plucking at our heartstrings deliberately, but that's certainly the way it's spun by the apologists for industrial agriculture, who say you shouldn't try to cling to a way of life that's gone the way of all things, and you shouldn't expect us to risk having less food or risk having more expensive food just to save Uncle Henry and Auntie Em. The successful organic farmers don't expect to be taken care of out of charity. They want to make a living by selling a better product.

Another way you often see this spun is that the people who are against industrial agriculture are spoiled urbanites who can afford to buy organic vegetables and grass-fed beef and like to feel self-righteous about it. 

How do you respond to the suggestion that this cause is a luxury of the privileged?

Well, you do run into that. I mean there's a downtown farmers' market here in Salt Lake City on Saturday mornings, and the place is lousy with Volvos and people who come down because they've got some disposable income and don't have to work that day. But these changes are more and more reaching into your average supermarket. When you consider that out of every disposable consumer dollar that's spent on food, two cents of it gets to the farmer, I don't think it would be so horrible if four cents got to the farmer. That would help them out a lot, and it wouldn't hurt us at all. 

Would you say that moving toward a small-farm model is not something that just makes life a little bit sweeter for those who can afford it but is a necessary change?

Yes, in the long term. I mean it starts out, like a lot of things start but, as something to gladden the bleeding heart. You feel good about helping the farmer and about feeding your children organic food instead of Twinkies.

The most successful farmers in the niche markets are those who just are lucky enough or foresighted enough to be close to a city, often close to a university town, places where there's an educated kind of folks who are taking the lead. They're the first ones to seek out organic food, locally produced food, to want to see the face of their farmer in their produce, as the Japanese say.  

And they're the ones who get it started, but once somebody gets established in a farmers' market, the regular supermarkets start carrying that stuff and start promoting that they have organic food and have local food. They haven't bragged about that in the past partly because they felt that people like industrial food, that people like the idea that it comes from this stainless steel, pressure-washed factory somewhere, even when it didn't. 

And now people are starting to understand that they can say, 'Well, you know, this comes from this guy down the road and we're going to charge you ten more cents for it.' And people will buy it. 

In the epigraph to one chapter you quote from former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson about how easy it would be for terrorists to attack our food supply. Do you think that it will take a catastrophe on the scale of Sept. 11 for us to see some substantial changes?

I think the problem is that the industrial model is so established and people in power still mostly believe in it. Even the people who have taken this threat seriously are still not questioning the future of this model's existence and its efficiency. They're just trying to find a better way to circle the wagons. They're saying that we need to have surveillance; we need to have walls; we need to keep dogs and guns and barbed wire; we need to have laws saying you can't take pictures of farms.

As for the idea that the best way to deal with this is to decentralize the plants, the farms, the feedlots, the genetics, it may take some kind of crisis to get that through some people's heads. I mentioned in the book that after 9/11 there were some brokerage houses that decided it was not a really smart idea to have everything all in one place. The same logic applies with agriculture. Nature demands it, really. Row after row of exactly identical stalks of corn is not natural. And one of these days Mother Nature, even if no terrorist does it, will look dimly on that and send us some kind of locust or germ or bacteria and wipe them out.

Reading your book I was reminded of Thomas Frank's, "What's the Matter With Kansas?" What do you think of that book? Do you accept Frank's basic analysis that the people of the Midwest have essentially sacrificed their own economic interests in exchange for pandering over what he would call dead-end social causes?

I didn't read his book until I was nearly finished with mine, but I think he's right. People are voting to give more and more power to big business on a promise of, you know, protecting themselves from gay marriage. I think that's true. A friend of mine [Dan Glickman] was a congressman from Wichita and the only Democrat in the state delegation for quite a while. His crowning achievement was to get a law passed that made it less risky for the aircraft industry, which is big in Wichita, to start making single-engine planes again. They'd been worried about liability -- way down the road, after the plane had been sold and sold and sold again.

Then somebody came along and ran against him who worked for one of those aircraft companies. His main campaign was that a sitting congressman was too far left on guns and abortion. And he beat him. I remember a friend of mine, an editorial writer in Wichita, said, 'Well, that just proves those people who work at Boeing are more worried about losing their guns than losing their jobs.'"

I guess the bad guys in this scenario are the agribusiness corporations, Monsanto and ConAgra and such. I'm wondering how you explain their willingness to pursue policies that, if your analysis is right, are not good for anybody in the end.

Whether they're funnin' us or whether they truly believe it -- and I tend to think that they truly believe it -- they base their work on the idea that you need to produce more and more, that there are starving people in Africa and, by God, it's our duty to feed them. I think that they've said that often enough that they may believe it -- continually blinding themselves to the idea that those starving people in Africa will continue to starve until they have some money.

They continue to cling to this idea that one of these days we'll have just the right trade program, or just the right incentive, and all these people around the world will start buying our corn and our wheat. And they'll be fat and happy and we'll be fat and happy. But they don't have any money, and they're not likely to have any money unless they have their own healthy agricultural base.

So what is your prescription for farmers and for city dwellers and lawmakers? What are the most important things to be done immediately? 

The macro solution is to move away from the subsidies and to start enforcing antitrust laws. If we enforce the antitrust laws, there would be more people competing to buy the farmers' grain and they might do a better job of surviving off the market instead of off the government. Some argue that it would cost the consumer more, but I don't think it would. If more suppliers had to compete to sell to farmers, and if you had more bidders on their fat cattle, fat hogs and harvested grain, farmers would turn a greater profit. Passing that increased cost along to the consumer depends to a large degree on how many processors there are and how many grocers there are. But even if that price does get passed along, it's already so small it wouldn't make much difference.

So the big answer is to enforce antitrust laws and to change or get rid of subsidies. What about individual citizens who have no connection to farming?  What can they do?

Well, they can be more effective consumers. And more people are doing that.  Buy organic. Buying local is even more important. If you've got organic that comes from a long way away or local that you're not too sure about, it's better to buy local and cut out the middle man. The cynical reason to do that is, if there's anything wrong with it, you know where it came from. 

So much of this stuff you got no idea where it comes from. The beef goes into this huge maw and it's ground and re-ground and distributed and packaged and repackaged. If you buy from the small processing plant or directly from the farmer and there is something wrong with it, then you just don't buy from him. And he'll notice.

 - - - - - - - - - - - -

About the writer - Ira Boudway is an editorial fellow in Salon's New York office.   http://www.salon.com/books/int/2005/07/15/pyle/print.html

  • Raising Less Corn, More Hell

http://www.powells.com/biblio?isbn=1586481150

  • The Real Board of Directors:  The Construction of Biotechnology Policy in Canada, 1980-2002

This is a study by Devlin Kuyek which, in meticulous detail, describes who has actually been making the decisions about biotechnology--indeed, about health policy, science policy, and much more--for more than two decades. The picture he draws is devastating.

  • Stolen Seeds:  the privatisation of Canada's agricultural biodiversity by Devlin Kuyek

A quarter of a century ago, Canada had a public seed system in the full sense of the word. Our seed supply was the result of a free flow of seeds among farmers and formal breeders, within Canada and abroad. Over the past twenty-five years, however, the Canadian seed system has been radically transformed and our government is dangerously close to turning over our public seed system, and the options for the future that go with it, to a handful of transnational corporations.

Through patents and other intellectual property regimes, corporate tactics, and government manoeuvring, our public goods are being destroyed to make way for private profit and the seed saving and plant breeding practices at the heart of our seed system are being criminalised.  This paper provides an overview of the various ways in which this process is happening and discusses some of the consequences.

THE RETURN OF THE TROJAN HORSE
Alberta and the New World (Dis)Order
Trevor W. Harrison, editor
 

First elected in 1993 on a platform of "common sense revolution," a little over a decade later Ralph Klein's Conservative Party remain in power, but the gloss is off its "revolution." Deficits and debt have been eliminated, but new problems and new issues have arisen, such as energy deregulation and water shortages. Efforts to export the revolution - to remake Canada in Alberta's image - have stalled, with the defeat of the Harris Conservatives in Ontario and the collapse of the Reform and Alliance parties federally. Meanwhile, at the world-wide level, neo-liberal globalization - all the rage in the early 90s - is now in retreat, replaced by war, threats of terrorism, and growing economic instability.

The Return of the Trojan Horse re-examines Klein's Alberta after a decade of deficit-slashing, tax-cutting conservatism. It is an original compilation of critical essays on Alberta's policies, written by some of Alberta's (and Canada's) best authors who come from a wide spectrum of viewpoints and backgrounds, all blending insight with journalistic flair.

  • "The Best Of Peter McArthur" published by Clarke, Irwin and Co. in 1967.  The book is a collection of the rural columns he wrote for the Toronto Globe from 1909 to 1924 and for the Farmer's Advocate from 1910 to 1917 when he was living on his fifty-acre farm thirty miles from London, Ontario (Appin).  He had previously been a writer/editor in London and New York and was very well-known in his day. He was born in 1866 and died in 1924. 
Here's  a column he wrote called "High-Pressure Livestock" which is from the book:

"There has been so much in the papers recently about high-frequency hens and super-efficient cows that I am going to venture a dangerous paragraph that may provoke some unpleasant controversy.  Twice in the past few years I have heard theories advanced which would tend to show that human psychology is seriously affected by animals or fowls specialized in.  There is a picture in my mind of an eminent Western ranchman who sat with his feet on the desk and expounded to me his theory that it is possible to know at once by observable characteristics just what is a farmer's specialty.  As he specialized in beef cattle he naturally held that cattlemen are usually men of large and generous proportions, with idea in keeping with their bulk.  As his description of horsemen, sheepmen, cattlemen and poultry specialists were not very flattering, I shall not venture to indicate them.  But his theory sounded as plausible as many others, and he was able to back it up with instances that seemed to carry weight.  The next testimony that seemed to bear on this point came from a young agricultural specialist who had been travelling though the country investigating certain farm conditions for a government department.  He assured me that attempts to develop cows of high milk pressure and butter content and of early laying hens of record-breaking capacity apparently tended to develop a greedy and overreaching type of human being. The man who tried to get the last ounce out of a hen or a cow, he claimed, always wanted to get the last possible penny out of everyone he dealt with.  Of course this is a very sweeping generalization to make on somewhat casual data, but there may be something in it.  The scriptural injunction, "muzzle not the ox that treadeth out the corn," would suggest that the highest efficiency and the most desirable characters do not always go together.  What do you think?"

Read more at:

 
 
 
  • A Review (by Dick Beames, April, 2005) of  The Fight for Canada: four centuries of resistance to American expansionism (1998 edition) by   David Orchard

This is a carefully researched book that took Orchard eight years to write, to be published in 1993. This revised edition was published five years later. As with all good history books, the text is annotated. The author presents the facts based on irrefutable records which are provided in the text, often as quotations, and as references in an extensive bibliography. In the rare cases where Orchard does express an opinion, he first presents the factual documentation. Much of his argument is based on exposing the insincerity, superficiality and opportunism of many people on both sides of the border.

Full Report:   http://forum.stopthehogs.com/viewtopic.php?p=166#166

  • A Short History of Progress
     
  • Collapse
     
  • Beyond Factory Farming: Corporate Hog Barns and the Threat to Public Health, the Environment, and Rural Communities
     
    Edited by Alexander M. Ervin, Cathy Holtslander, Darrin Qualman, and Rick Sawa
    Released November 7, 2003
     
    This new book from the CCPA examines at the changes that have resulted in the hog sector and the effects that these changes have had on our family farms, the food we eat, our conditions of work, our communities, and the relationship of governments to corporations and citizens. Through diverse perspectives, this book highlights, not just the Canadian hog sector, but structural forces at work reshaping communities and economies around the world.
     
    Beyond Factory Farming places the fight to save the family farm and the fight for more sustainable and responsive local economies within the larger context of a global struggle to restore democracy and economic sanity in the face of runaway corporate power. It is a chronicle of what we have lost, a cautionary tale, and a message of hope for the future.
     
    Copies of Beyond Factory Farming are available from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) for $19.95 each (plus shipping and handling).
     
    To order your copy online, visit the CCPA web site at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca
      
  • Against the Grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of Your Food
    From environmental issues of biodiversity and increasing use of chemicals to health concerns about eating genetically modified food, Against the Grain provides a comprehensive and devastating picture of biotechnology and food. (Marc Lappé and Britt Bailey, Common Courage Press, 1998) 
     
  • Beyond Evolution
    From a cure for cancer to runaway fatal viruses, from juicy oranges to unstoppable deforestation, from cloned sheep to the end of all life on earth-the genetically altered future offers innumerable opportunities, and perhaps even more dangers. Here is a call for the rational exploration of that future. (Dr. Michael W. Fox, The Lyons Press, New York, 1999)
     
  • Beyond the Law - Agribusiness and the Systemic Abuse of Animals Raised for Food or Food Production
    Explains how agribusiness amended state anti-cruelty laws to exclude farm animals from even the most basic legal protection. (David J. Wolfson, 1999, 64pgs, $2.50)
     
  • Bitter Harvest: A Chef's Perspective on the Hidden Dangers in the Foods We Eat and What You Can Do About It
    Chef Ann Cooper offers a comprehensive analysis of the issue of sustainability, arguing persuasively why we must begin to change everything from the way food is shipped to the basic components of our diets. (Routledge, June 2000)
     
  • Bringing the Food Economy Home: Local Alternatives to Global Agribusiness
    A shift towards the local would protect and rebuild agricultural diversity, give farmers a bigger share of the money spent on food, and provide consumers with healthier, fresher food at more affordable prices. This book discusses the potential positive impact of local producers in developed and developing countries. (Helena Norberg-Hodge, Todd Merrifield, Steven Gorelick; Kumarian Press, 2002)
      
  • Corporate Reapers: The Book of Agribusiness
    "This is a book filled not merely with fact, but with the spirit of Thomas Jefferson, Shay's Rebellion, The Wizard of Oz, Mary Ellen Lease, Upton Sinclair, Woody Guthrie, Cesar Chavez and Willie Nelson. It's a big book about justice, and it speaks the truth. Al Krebs has poured his life's work into this volume, and it's a work well worth the telling. The Corporate Reapers will inform you, anger you, broaden your vision and -- I hope -- fire you up for reform." - Jim Hightower, Former Texas State Agricultural Commissioner
     
  • Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
    Scully, speech writer for George W. Bush, opposes factory farming and other cruel farming practices and advocates animals' right to dignity and freedom from suffering. In this book he investigates the hunting, whaling, and factory farming industries to support his position. (Matthew Scully, St. Martin's, 2002)

In Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy, Matthew Scully, a speechwriter for George W. Bush, says that he seeks above all to reach religious people whose spirit of kindness and mercy has not yet been extended to animals. However, Dominion is not just for religious believers and "dominionists." It combines strong investigative journalism with polemical rigor, droll humor, searing images, a call to action, and a set of recommended legal reforms to protect animals against the most extreme forms of institutionalized abuse. Some might fear that a book about "mercy" would be mushy. This one isn't. Scully exposes the cynical sentimentality of phony realists who accuse people who care about animals of being "weak" and "soft." Rather, he says, it's the animal person who's the realist, "someone who wants to know the facts of the case, what is actually taking place and how it feels to the victim."
Scully's chapters on his visits to the Safari Club International's 27th annual convention, the International Whaling Commission's 52nd annual meeting, and a Smithfield industrial pig complex in North Carolina take us into these harrowing places. With him, we meet the people, hear the talk, feel the ambiance. Here we are, for example, in a Smithfield Gestation Barn filled with crated pregnant sows. Scully is with a young animal scientist named Gay - "Loves her career. Loves animals."

It takes an extra moment for the eyes and ears to register a single clear perception. But you can just tell by their immediate reactions which sows have been here the longest. Some of them are still defiant, roaring and rattling violently as we approach. Some of them are defeated, motionless even at the touch. Some of them are dead.

"They don't get a lot of exercise," says Gay. "But at the same time, that's good because they can carry more fetuses. We get rid of them after eight litters."

Further on.

What's that on the thigh of NPD 45-051? I ask. "That's a tumor," says Gay. The tumor, I observe, is the size of half a soccer ball. "Yeah, and she's just one year old," says Gay. "Getting thin, too. So, she's not desirable any more." . . . NPD 40-602 appears to have a tumor as well. I tell Gay. "That's just a pus pocket. They all get those."

While Scully makes a point of rejecting the concept of animal rights, and his insistence on the "lowliness" of animals is galling, his goal, to achieve which he apparently considers these belittling concessions requisite, is to reach that huge audience for whom animals have so far counted morally for nothing at all, to whom the idea of the "lowly" chicken, cow, or pig might actually be a peg up from the bottomless gulf of nothingness occupied by the rest of creation in the minds of so many.

But there's more. Scully's literary skills make Dominion a book to reckon with. If he starts off saying that animals have no rights, which legally they don't, he develops powerful arguments on behalf of animals' "moral claims" and humankind's corresponding responsibility to animals. "Laws protecting animals from mistreatment, abuse, and exploitation are not a moral luxury or sentimental afterthought to be shrugged off," he says. "They are a serious moral obligation." Refuting the idea that morality is a mere matter of "culture," "opinion," and "choice," castigating the caprice that allows us to treat animals whom we know with some decency while condemning animals in farms and laboratories to "lives of ceaseless misery," he declares that "the moral claims of other creatures are facts about those creatures, regardless of when or where or whether it pleases us to recognize them" (310).

As does Norm Phelps in The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights and the Bible, Scully observes that the idea of human rights, like that of animal rights, is not a given but rather "a practical response to the most fundamental of all moral problems: Human evil." Thus, he says, "[b]efore you dismiss vegetarianism as radical animal rights nonsense, contradicted by ages of custom and habit the world over, reflect for a moment on our own human experience, on all the violence and brutality and ceaseless subjugation from which our own concepts of human rights arise" (313).

Scully emphasizes the morality of substitution, a theme that I stress in my book More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality. I argue that in the religious realm, for example, if we can substitute animal flesh for human flesh and bread and wine for "all flesh" and the shedding of innocent blood, and view these changes as advances of civilization and not as inferior substitutes for genuine religious experience, we are ready to go forward in our everyday lives on ground that is already laid. Regarding the consumption of animal products and all other forms of animal exploitation, Scully, who is a vegan, similarly writes that "[w]hen substitute products are found, with each creature in turn, responsible dominion calls for a reprieve. . . . What were once 'necessary evils' become just evils" (43).

Though I do not share Scully's theological outlook and disdain his tributes to certain public figures who practice what he had declared just a few pages earlier to be "just evils," I do think this book makes an important contribution to the effort to try to awaken the public's conscience and mitigate the cruelty of our species to other species. There's a kind of irony where Scully says that "In a strange way the more insistent human beings are of our singularity among creatures, the more aggressive and vocal in denigrating animals, the more indistinct and small we ourselves come to seem." Seen in this perspective, the human species might well be in a process of dwindling away to just dots, then a dot, and then nothing, like the characters in the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald. If this happened to us, it would be no loss for the animals. They don't need us, we are not their keepers, and we have abused our privilege of sharing the earth with them

UPC Letter in the March 2003 Atlantic Monthly

UPC President Karen Davis's letter appeared in the March 2003 issue of The Atlantic Monthly in response to columnist Christopher Hitchens's November 2002 review ("Political Animals") of Matthew Scully's book Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy.

Thank you for Christopher Hitchens's critical review of Matthew Scully's book Dominion: the Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy. I would like to respond to a couple of things Hitchens says about social justice responses to animals and animal rights.

Hitchens invokes the English utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham to support his claim that talk about animals' rights is "nonsense upon stilts" because rights "have to be asserted," and animals "cannot make such assertions." However, we make representations all the time on behalf of people who cannot speak for themselves due to infancy, debility, or senility, and Bentham himself said that nonhuman animals possess rights that have been withheld from them by human tyranny. He was talking about moral claims of fellowship that transcend the ability to articulate a plea for fairness in polished verbal language and which are yet a basis for legal rights. Indeed, we hire lawyers and members of the clergy to assert claims that exist in us as sentiments of justice and injustice that, if pleaded by ourselves on our own behalf, without intercession, might to a judge's ear (or the ear of God) sound like nothing more than "bleats and roars and trumpetings"-a lot of unambiguous protest, in fact.

I think it's time for our species to step down from the "chilly eminence" that Hitchens ascribes to the animal advocacy philosopher Peter Singer and give to these animals, who are neither "voiceless" nor "dumb," a voice in every affair that concerns them. If we can speak for people who can't speak for themselves, we can speak for these animals, and so we should.

Karen Davis
President
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.

  

  • Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth
    What is the true price of your food? Lester Brown poses this question in his latest book, making the argument that ecological costs must be considered in determining economic costs. He introduces the idea of an "eco-economy", an inclusive concept that would call for economics to be in line with global environmental needs. He also addresses the potential of sustainable fuel sources to cut ecological costs and create energy independence for countries that currently import oil. (Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute, 2000) (Can be downloaded for free or purchased.)
     
  • Eco-Wars: Political Campaigns and Social Movements
    Can grassroots interest groups ever win the wars they wage in the political arena against big business in America? (Ronald T. Libby, a Columbia University Press publication)
     
  • Fast Food Nation
    Journalist Eric Schlosser traces the fast food industry and its surrounding culture from the invention of the fast food concept to the current realities of unsafe labor conditions in feedlots and slaughterhouses. He exposes the connections between the fast food and agriculture industries and the national government, as well as the ever-increasing health risks of food borne pathogens. Fast Food Nation is a shocking look at what Americans, and now people all over the world, are actually eating. (Eric Schlosser, Houghton Mifflin, 2001)
     
  • Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture
    Essays from more than 30 authors including Vandana Shiva and Alice Waters, on many different aspects of the misconceptions and abuses of industrial agriculture. The book forms the backdrop for the Organic and Beyond Campaign, which brings together organization all over the US in support of organic farming practices. Essays focus mostly on agriculture, but have strong support for the idea of organic farming, and promoting sustainable eating through legislation and public education. (Andrew Kimbrell (Ed), Island Press, 2002)
     
  • Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health
    Nestle, the Nutrition Department chair at New York University, exposes the lobbying practices of the food industry and their effects on nutrition standards and consumer protection. She discusses the industry's growth tactics--like marketing to children--in America, where people are not only not going hungry, but are dying from eating too much. (Marion Nestle, University of California Press, 2002)
     
  • The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and the World
    Noting the massive changes in the environment, food-production methods, and technology over the last two decades, Robbins lambastes contemporary factory-farming methods and demonstrates that individual dietary choices can be both empowering and have a broader impact. He takes on fad diets, the meat industry, food irradiation, hormone and antibiotic use in animals, cruel animal husbandry practices, the economics of meat consumption, biotechnology and the prevalence of salmonella and E. Coli. (John Robbins, Dean Ornish, MD., July 2001)
     
  • A Food and Agricultural Policy for the 21st Century
    A collection of papers that capture the array of issues, concerns, and solutions that farmers and citizens share with regard to the problems now occurring in food production, processing, marketing and consumption. (Organization for Competitive Markets, 2000)
     
  • Genetically Engineered Food - A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers
    A comprehensive book covering all aspects of GE foods, how to avoid them, and the political, socio-economic, and environmental issues surrounding the issue. (Ronnie Cummins, Ben Lilliston, Marlowe & Company)
     
  • Hogging It! Estimates of Antimicrobial Abuse in Livestock
    Antimicrobial resistance is a public health problem of growing urgency. Although use of antimicrobials in humans is the largest contributor to the problem, use of antimicrobials in agriculture also plays a significant role. (Union of Concerned Scientists)
     
  • Hog Wars: The Corporate Grab for Control of the Hog Industry and How Citizens Are Fighting Back
    Chronicles the Missouri Rural Crisis Center's organizing efforts from the incursion of the first mega-hog corporations into the Midwest to its recent success in turning them back. (Missouri Rural Crisis Center)
     
  • Home Grown
    World Watch Institute publication in support of the local foods movement. The book describes the trend toward long-distance food importing, which has, arguably, compromised environmental and food safety. The local foods movement, in contrast, shows that promoting local production can ensure food safety while boosting rural and developing economies. (Brian Halweil, World Watch Institute, 2002)
      
  • Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet
    In her 1971 three-million-copy bestseller Diet for a Small Planet, Frances Moore Lappé blew apart the myth of food scarcity in the world. She also helped people see the value of a plant-centered whole foods diet. In the year 2000, the author and her daughter Anna went on a pilgrimage to five continents in search of courageous individuals and groups who are working at "hope's edge" to heal our threatened planet through innovative notions of how we can feed ourselves. (Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe, Jeremy P. Tarcher Publishers, February 2002)
      
  • Inside the Bottle: An Exposé of the Bottled Water Industry
    Across North America, the bottled water industry is exploding. Bottled water sales are now the fastest growing segment of the entire beverage industry. Over the past decade, the consumption of bottled water has more than doubled in the U.S. alone, in Canada; bottled water consumption now outpaces that of coffee, tea, apple juice or milk.  Inside the Bottle provides a vivid and disturbing portrayal of how four big companies Nestlé, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Danone --- dominate the bottled water industry today.
  • Livestock, Ethics and Quality of Life
    An impressive array of international experts thoughtfully review the formidable range of ethical dilemmas that are troubling society as a consequence of half a century of unprecedented technological development and technical innovation in livestock farming. (Edited by Dr. J. Hodges & Prof. I.K. Han, CABI Publishing, November 1999)
     
  • Mad Cowboy
    Subtitled "Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat," Mad Cowboy is an expose on the beef industry and "a passionate manifesto for change from an industry insider." (Howard Lyman, author)
     
  • The Meat Business - Devouring a Hungry Planet
    Challenges and exposes the myths of the meat industry by showing that intensive meat production takes food from the poor, enslaves animals in dire conditions, diverts growing food to growing feed for Europe’s factory-farmed animals, contributes to massive environmental degradation and makes meat-consumers more vulnerable to a host of life-threatening diseases. (Edited by Geoff Tansey and Joyce D'Silva, Compassion in World Farming, 1999, 249 pgs)
     
  • My Year of Meats
    An entertaining, thought-provoking novel that has been lauded by critics and readers alike, My Year of Meats tells the story of a filmaker commissioned to make a television series encouraging Japanese families to eat more meat. Along the way, she discovers unethical practices in the American meat industry and grows determined to expose them. (by Ruth Ozeki, Viking Press, April 1999)
     
  • The Organic Factor
    A new book on organic foods from a health perspective, as well as background information on why organic food is more safe and nutritious. (Paul Rogers, 2002)
     
  • People Sustaining the Land
    This collection of photographs and profiles depicts sustainable farmers all over the United States. The authors visited 26 sustainable farms, driving from Florida to Washington state. In addition to the photos and commentary from the authors, the farmers themselves contributed essays on their relationships with the land and the choice to stick with sustainable farming. (Cynthia Vagnetti and Jerry Dewitt, Sustainable Agriculture Publications, 1999)
     
  • Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry
    This book is a fully-documented source of up-to-the-minute information about chickens, including everything from how a chick develops inside an egg to the causes of salmonella, and much more. Provides a chilling account of the morally handicapped commercial poultry & egg industry. (Karen Davis, United Poultry Concerns, 1997)
     
  • Raising a Stink
    The state of Nebraska, like many other states, is home to industrial hog raising operations, which affect the state's economy, environment, and the health of its residents. Journalist Carolyn Johnson has followed the struggle between industry executives and the citizens who oppose these factory farms. In this book she presents the story of Nebraska's factory hog farms as well as the opinions of those on all sides of the issue. (Carolyn Johnson, Bison Books, 204 pages, September 2003)
     
  • Renewing the Countryside
    A beautiful, inspiring book that tells 43 stories of Minnesotans protecting the environment & promoting their rural communities through innovative businesses and community projects. This powerful journey through Minnesota's landscape is full of incredible photographs and stories of hope. (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, 2001)
     
  • Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism
    Who is protecting us from our food? From the questionable safety of the food sold in restaurants and supermarkets, to the rapid introduction of genetically engineered foods, to the potential risks to food safety posed by terrorism, there are many dangers that may not be getting enough attention from legislators. This book asks the questions, how worried should we be about these threats? Who decides how they are handled, and what do they stand to gain? (Marion Nestle, University of California Press, 2003)
      
  • Slaughterhouse
    A depressing but compelling case against the greed and inhumaneness of the U.S. meat industry. Eisnitz is an undercover reporter who spent several years compiling her case. The book is published by Prometheus Books. (Gail A. Eisnitz, New York, 1997)
     
  • State of the World 2000
    A study of the trends that have put the global economy on a collision course with the Earth's ecosystems. (Worldwatch Institute, $5 downloaded, $14.95 paperback)
     
  • Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply
    Internationally acclaimed environmental leader Vandana Shiva uncovers the devastating human and environmental impacts of corporate-engineered international trade agreements, charting the impacts of industrial agriculture and what they mean for small farmers, the environment, and the quality and healthfulness of the foods we eat. (Vandana Shiva, South End Press, 1999) [Secure Ordering]
     
  • Sustainable Cuisine White Papers
    A collection of essays on sustainable farming and eating written by a variety of interested parties, including scientists, organic farmers, and advocates of sustainable food such as Paul Newman. (Earth Pledge Foundation, Chelsea Green Publishing, 1999)
     
  • This Organic Life
    A combination memoir and instructional guide about organic gardening and cooking in a suburban setting, from a nutritionist and Columbia University professor. (Joan Dye Gussow, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2001)
     
  • Why Grassfed Is Best!
    128-page book that explains the many benefits of grassfed meat, eggs and dairy. Written by New York Times bestselling author Jo Robinson. $7.50 from Vashon Island Press, 29428 129th Ave SW, Vashon WA 98070-8824. To purchase by phone, call Vashon Island Press, (206) 463-4156 from 9-5 west coast time.
      
  • CLF Projects and Research
     

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