Volume 3, Number 13                                                            August 19, 2000

The Farmer

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“I see dead people.”

by Dr. Ridgely A. Mu’min Muhammad

WASHINGTON (Reuters: Aug. 4, 2000) - “A pair of New York firms have announced recalls of about 25,000 tons of hot dogs, sandwich meats and chicken nuggets, the US Department of Agriculture said Friday...

Meanwhile, Ahava Products Corp. of Brooklyn is voluntarily recalling about 6,000 tons of chicken nuggets for possible salmonella contamination. The product was imported from Israel and distributed in the New York City area and California.”

Question: How can Israel ship “chicken nuggets” across the ocean and Black farmers can’t find markets for their products in America?

Just one week earlier while we were at the Unity 2000 protest march and rally in Philadelphia, we heard over the radio that 350,000 pounds of processed meat was being recalled in the Philadelphia area, infected with e-coli bacteria.

Question: Who is supposed to check this stuff anyway?

Answer: In the future the USDA will allow companies in foreign countries to inspect their own meat and then the USDA will stamp “USDA Inspected” when it reaches America.

At least according to Lori Wallach, if the WTO (World Trade Organization) gets its way.  Lori Wallach,  leader of the anti-WTO protests in Seattle, announced this to the shocked audience at the Leo Baeck Temple on the occasion of a Town Hall Meeting to kick off the “Shadow Convention” during the week of the Democratic National Convention in LA.  Both the Democrats and Republicans are in favor of the WTO, so there has been no debate on this issue of  “harmonizing” which will force all countries to accept the standards of the “least restrictive” countries within the WTO.  This is a food safety version of  allowing the “foxes to guard the hen house”.

Now this is the “kicker”.  Over the last 25 years OSHA, USDA, EPA and FDA have become more restrictive on American farmers and small food processors.  Farmers are not allowed to use certain pesticides and fungicides while their foreign competitors can use them. If that country is a part of NAFTA, then those corporate farmers can ship those poisoned crops to the US without being inspected.

 We did a feasibility analysis of setting up a small canning operation and small freeze dry operation.  The costs were prohibitive because of the new domestic regulations.  Most of even your large brand names like Green Giant, Libby’s, Del Monte and Swanson only refer to who is “distributing” it and not who is manufacturing it.  To find out the manufacturer you have to be able to decode those bar codes on the back of the label.  In other words there are only one or two canning companies and freeze drying companies who do custom processing and packaging for the “name brands”.  A smaller manufacturing or processing plant can not compete on price.  Soon there will be “ONE FIRM” and many labels.

 At the end of this article I have listed some articles and websites that will inform you about how the WTO policies will affect countries in the “third world” making them less self-sufficient with regards to food supplies.  The “free trade” economic policies, while great for the corporations, do not provide food security which will lead to more political instability for the  poorer and weaker countries of the South.

It would be wonderful if those of us who know those whom the politicians serve, and understand the objectives of their masters, could get you to read these articles, do further research and become aware, concerned and active about the plight of our brothers and sisters all over the world.  However, as you bite into that tainted piece of meat, these issues may become more palatably understood.  It’s like that movie called the “Sixth Sense”;  “I see dead people.”

The "Big Bang" in agriculture in the WTO

 by Bhagirath Lal Das    http://www.twnside.org.sg/title/bang-cn.htm

 

THE WTO, THE WORLD FOOD SYSTEM,

AND THE POLITICS OF HARMONIZED DESTRUCTION

by Gerard Greenfield      http://www.amrc.org.hk/Arch/3204.htm

The WTO, Agriculture and Food Security  http://www.twnside.org.sg/title/focus11-cn.htm

Whose Trade Organization

http://www.citizen.org/pctrade/publications/wtobook.htm

(You may contact me at:  drridge@bellsouth.net or visit my web page at:

http://personal.atl.bellsouth.net/lig/d/r/drridge/index.htm    )