[Marxism] An unlikely side effect of the global food crisis?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jul 20 06:52:28 MDT 2008

>Food rise has Bolivia's coca farmers planting rice instead of cocaine
>SINAHOTA, Bolivia — Soaring food prices may achieve what the United
>States has spent millions of dollars trying to do: Persuade Bolivian
>farmers to sow their fields with less potent crops than cocaine's raw
>The unlikely advocate for change is Bolivian President Evo Morales,
>who as leader of a powerful coca growers union fought U.S.
>crop-substitution programs for two decades.
>However, rising grain prices and food shortages have made him
>reconsider....rest at

(I found this here: 
http://ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/OPE/archive/0807/0146.html. One 
of the authors, Tim Wise, I remember from a Guardian tour to 
Nicaragua in 1986. This was the American radical newspaper now 
defunct, not the British newspaper.)

From: GDAEAnnounce at tufts.eduSubject: New Report: Promise of Export 
Agriculture Overstated for Latin America

Promise of Export Agriculture Overstated for Latin America: New Report

Few winners under Doha, gains for Brazil and Argentina unlikely to last

Agricultural trade liberalization has provided some countries in 
Latin America with unprecedented export opportunities, but the export 
boom has not generated sustainable development, say Mamerto Pérez, 
Sergio Schlesinger, and Timothy A. Wise, authors of the new report 
"The Promise and Perils of Agricultural Trade Liberalization: Lessons 
from the Americas," released by the Global Development and 
Environment Institute (GDAE) of Tufts University and the Washington 
Office on Latin America (WOLA).

"Most countries aren't ready to compete in global commodities 
markets," says Timothy A. Wise of Tufts University, "and even 
countries like Brazil and Argentina may see only short-term gains for 
a few but long-term harm to many."

The report is based on seven country-studies examining both the 
promise of export agriculture – specifically the South American 
soybean boom – and the perils of trade liberalization for small-scale 
farmers in Latin America, with case studies from Mexico, El Salvador, 
Bolivia, and Brazil.

"Latin America does not need more liberalization under Doha," says 
Wise, "it needs less.  The region needs policy space for development, 
so governments can help farmers grow food more productively."

Among the report's main findings:

South America's soybean industries are winners from global trade 
liberalization, but few of the benefits go to rural 
communities.  Based on high-input, industrialized monoculture 
farming, employment and wages have both declined despite dramatic 
increases in production.
Soy expansion offers short-term gain but promises lasting ecological 
harm from expansion onto sensitive lands, squandering the region's 
rich natural assets.  The agro-fuel boom only deepens this problem.

Only a few developing countries – Argentina and Brazil, most notably 
– capture a large share of the projected benefits.  The poorest 
countries, and the small-scale farmers within those countries, are 
the least likely to gain from global market opportunities.

Rich-country reforms reduce production and increase farm prices only 
negligibly, with the exception of a few crops (e.g., cotton, 
rice).  In the long run, prices will return to pre-reform levels as 
supply catches up to demand.

With appropriate government investment – in productivity not just 
anti-poverty programs – small-scale farmers can increase production. 
This will help meet critical domestic food needs while reducing poverty.

The 32-page report was jointly published by GDAE and the Washington 
Office on Latin America.  The report and a three-page executive 
summary are available for download.

Download Summary:

full report:

Further information on project:

For more on GDAE's Globalization and Sustainable Development Program:

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