Saturday, April 20, 2013

10 shocking facts about corporate control of our food supply

Fast Track is just around the corner for two giant trade deals: the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TPPA and TAFTA). "Fast track" is code for "rammed through Congress" without debate, without amendments and certainly without careful vetting of the agreements.

The Teamsters aren't against trade, they're against unfair trade. And the union's 30,000 dairy workers could be irreparably harmed by the TPPA if it allows New Zealand to dump subsidized dairy products on the U.S. market. Congress should reject Fast Track so it can carefully examine the TPPA, make sure it protects American workers and consumers and eliminate special deals that further empower multinational corporations.

Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch, thinks the TPP will be disastrous for most Americans. She explains at the naked capitalism blog:
...permanent power grabs by corporations and their financers. For Americans this means increased gas exports and increased imported foods, an undermining of our domestic laws and increasing corporate ownership of our natural resources. They will forever enshrine the very economic system that has lead to an ever greater imbalance in income and wealth, and increasingly frequent economic crises. And it will all be enforced by new international tribunals akin to the WTO. 
The changes needed to reform our food system and strengthen our democracy can only happen when the people demand better from their leadership. We can’t shop our way out of this problem.
Here's how bad the problem is:
  1. Four gigantic companies process 80 percent of the beef we eat.
  2. Four retailers sell 50 percent of the groceries.
  3. With one out of every three dollars spent on groceries in the U.S. going to Walmart.
  4. The top 10 fast food companies control 47 percent of all fast food sales.
  5. The food industry spent $40 million lobbying the federal government in 2011.
  6. Three companies -- Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta -- own 47 percent of the world's seeds
  7. According to USDA statistics, America loses more than 17,000 farmers a year -- one every half an hour.
  8. Nearly every major commodity -- wheat, corn, soy -- is controlled by just four corporations.
  9. The U.S. pays more than $100 billion a year in medical costs due to diet-related diseases from junk and highly processed foods.
  10. We pay roughly $15 billion a year, sometimes more, to subsidize corporate agribusiness commodities like corn and soy.