Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Small farms are a key to survival

Stephen Joseph Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister has been asserting recently that there is “no longer a Canadian economy” because it has been entirely absorbed into a global economy managed by the G20.

For many, this raises a question of national sovereignty, and to whom is a Canadian citizen obligated. On the other side of the world, the current Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu, has written under a pseudonym (Obadiah Shoher, Samson Blinded, 2008) that Israel must create a “buffer zone” around its present borders consisting of industrial farms worked by non-Israeli peasants who produce exclusively Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crops. Before that buffer zone can be carved into the landscape, “popular uprisings” need to take place that result in large areas of land on Israel’s perimeter being freed from dictatorial rulers such as Assad in Syria. Coincidentally, in a little more than two years after Netanyahu rose again to Israel’s high office, the Arab Spring “uprisings” are creating an opportunity for Israel to make Netanyahu’s wishes for land a reality.

There are nineteen nations in the G20 group: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States. These are the top economic performers in the world in gross dollars, along with 27 countries within the European Union. Yet a few more countries are represented through the Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN): Brunei, Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam. 

In additional to the above economic performers, other organizations are represented: The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Yes, Gates is a player in this global economic union along with 56 nations. Israel barely claims a shared spot at the table as a member of OECD, founded in 1961. 

Yet after decades of activity the OECD recently reported a record gap between rich and poor nations: “Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising” finds that the average income of the richest 10% is now about nine times that of the poorest 10 % across the OECD. And the member nations of the OECD, by the way, produce two-thirds of the world’s goods and services.

Netanyahu wants to take land from neighboring countries and use that land to jump into the top twenty nations of the G20 through industrial agriculture based on GMO foodstuffs. Earlier this year Hungary booted Monsanto and its GMO seeds out of the country. The idea that people are being sacrificed under pretense of “freedom and democracy” in the Middle East in order to make way for large-scale GMO crop production is troubling. It appears to be happening nevertheless. 

I believe there is a direct relationship between a global spread of industrial farming and the widening gap between the wealthiest nations and the poorest. Giant farms displace workers and lower per-acre yields, by at least thirty percent (30%). People are herded into cities to seek jobs that often do not exist, or they remain redundant on barren lands. In agriculture alone, that 30% lost production is a drain on national and global resources.

The results of this G20 dominance of every nation’s economy and global production can be seen in this video: “Give us back the land.”

There is a solution, and it is found in reversing the trends of the past fifty years regarding access to agricultural lands. Millions can work as small-scale farmers, potentially creating newly productive acreage without using GMO seeds, but through organic methods and wise husbandry enrich barren lands and every local economy.  

Here is a potential for three acres of land:

Here is one family that has found the benefits of high tunnel farming:

An individual, family or small group need not begin farming at the level above. There are ample possibilities for those who start small, with gardens and greenhouses built by hand or purchased ready to build. Land that appears useless today can be thriving tomorrow, attracting birds and bees for pollination. Concepts and methods such as “square foot gardening” increase potential and actual yields of small plots or acreage enormously. By introducing diversity where monocultures exist now, or where no crops are grown, all of society benefits through enhanced food and health security.

Do not be deceived by numbers and statistics thrown about by prime ministers, global organizations or the G20 group of nations. Defining poverty, and counting heads of those within that category is not the same as defining quality of life. After fifty years of defining global human “progress” in terms of dollars, their system and related methods are clearly not working for the poorest of us. Those who grow and consume their own food are not represented in G20 metrics, while those metrics are intended as a measure of G20 success but not humanity’s improvement and security as a whole.

What the G20 cannot measure they cannot control, except by brute force. Like popular uprisings in the Middle East, small-scale farming and organic gardening is a repudiation of top-down “management” of a global economy intended to replace egalitarian, local economies based on freedom to engage in trade.  

Civil disobedience will soon come in a form of growing one’s own food and becoming self-sufficient; yet this will become a necessary measure to ensure the future of humanity.