Social and Economic Impact of Corporate Farming
The following article is a transcript of a Casey Research interview with Sir James Goldsmith in November 1994, on the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff (GATT) which created the World Trade Organization:
The idea is to create what is known today as efficient agriculture and to impose it worldwide. Let me just give you one [impact] of GATT on the third world. The idea of GATT is that the efficiency of agriculture throughout the world should …produce the most amount of food for the least cost. But what does that really mean? …What is cost?
When you produce the intensified agriculture and you reduce the number of people on the land, what happens to those people?…They are chased into the towns. They lose their jobs on the land. If they go into the towns, there are no jobs, there is no infrastructure. The social costs of those people, the financial costs of the infrastructure has to be added to the cost of producing food.
On top of that, you are breaking families, you are uprooting them, you are throwing them into the slums. Do you realize that in Brazil, the favelas (slums) did not exist before the Green Revolution of intensifying agriculture.
In the world today there are 3.1 billion people still living in rural communities. If GATT succeeds and we are able to impose modern methods of agriculture worldwide, so as to bring them to the level of Canada or Australia, what will happen? 2.1 billion people will be uprooted from the land and chased into the towns throughout the world. It is the single greatest disaster [in our history] greater than any war.
We have to change priorities. Let’s take agriculture. Instead of just trying to produce the maximum amount for the cheapest direct costs, let us try to take into account the other costs. Our purpose should not be just the one dimensional cost of food. We want the right amount of food, for the right quality for health and the right quality for the environment and employing enough people so as to maintain social stability in the rural areas.
If not, and we chase 2.1 billion people into the slums of the towns, we will create on a scale unheard of mass migration – what we saw in Rwanda with 2 million people will be nothing — so as to satisfy an economic doctrine. … We would be creating 2 billion refuges. We would be creating mass waves of migration which none of us could control. We would be destroying the towns which are already largely destroyed. Look at Mexico, Rio, look at our own towns.
And we are doing this for economic dogma?…What is this nonsense? Everything is based in our modern society on improving an economic index…The result is that we are destroying the stability of our societies, because we are worshiping the wrong god… Economic index.
The economy, like everything else, is a tool which should be submitted to, should be subject to, the true and fundamental requirements of society.
…This is the establishment against the rest of society… I am for business, so long as it does not devour society…[But] we have a conflict of interest. Big business loves having access to an unlimited supply of give away labor…
…You cannot enrich a country by destroying the health of its population. The health of a society cannot be measured by corporate profitability…
…We have allowed the instruments that are supposed to serve us to become our masters.
Sir James Goldsmith