This is why it is impossible to create a utopia in the food market
The concentration of food production in few hands would put those in control in a position to dictate who eats and who does not.
Skepticism is the healthiest of all qualities. When something seems to be true, skepticism should be at its highest level.
As many other tools perfected by humans, technology is neutral. It is its use which ends up turning it positive or negative. Examples of this reality abound, so it is unnecessary to illustrate it.
The speed at which the different technological advances take place pushes many to think that agriculture has reached science fiction states and that genetic engineering is the solution to feed 7.5 billion people.
The genetic revolution in the area of food production has been carried out in an uncontrolled manner, often in secret and with little credible or verifiable results beyond paid studies by the industrialized products industry itself.
One of the main concerns about the new food revolution is the safety of what is produced for human health and the protection of the environment
According to its proponents, the genetic technology applied to the production of “food” today’s techniques not only allow a production harmless to the environment but can convert agriculture, livestock or fisheries into activities beneficial to humans, ecosystems and the entire planet. However, the reality of this utopia is another.
New technologies have the ability to change social, economic or political realities on a large scale and therefore present great risks.
The large corporations, with the support of the governments of the developed countries, insisted for decades on subsidizing intensive agriculture, with large extensions of monocultures. The result of this model is the one we all know: the massive pollution of the planet.
When discussing or informing about the advantages of the so-called agriculture 3.0, one of the little talked about points is the concentration risks of the development of new technologies and how they are applied.
That information in a few hands would put those in control in a position to handle the global food market at will, from its production to its distribution. In fact, this is already a reality.
The food of the inhabitants of the planet is already subject to speculation and betting as if it were a card game in a casino.
The misuse of new technologies is, in fact, one of the major concerns that arouse the widespread use of these technologies in agriculture.
Some experts value and suppose that the use of genetics in production implies a change like the one humans wanted to make when they modified crop varieties to improve them, but one thing is very far from the other. In the same way, the genetic alterations made today in carefully monitored laboratories, with crosses and cattle raising are compared.
This millenarian work of Syrian farmers, herders, and herdsmen to maintain biodiversity gave a great arsenal of options in the face of possible effects of pests or diseases.
But that biodiversity is threatened by monoculture and the marginalization of less profitable species from the commercial point of view. Proportionally speaking, only a small part of what is grown in the world keeps native species intact.
The risk of this bet for some varieties is that we lose others, as has already happened.
The solution to the loss of species, according to the promoters of the genetic modifications, is that the technology allows editing the DNA of a plant or an animal. That power is, without a doubt, one of the biggest problems, because the industry has little or no ethics in the realization of these practices.
Technologies such as CRISPR allow modifying specific aspects of the genome to obtain basically any desired result. You can edit and change life in an unlimited way, alter the biosphere and rewrite the molecules of life in almost any way we imagine.
The reticence against the production and consumption of transgenic foods has been very numerous, mainly because there is no guarantee of biological security on the part of their producers. It is also a trap and a ruin for small farmers, who mortgaged their lives to use products that do not deliver what is promised, and in many cases yield less than natural products.
With CRISPR there is the possibility that changes occur in organisms or genes to which the edition is not directed, with undesired results.
Manipulating something as complex as the genome could have unexpected consequences. Not to mention the dangers of intentional misuse of this technology to generate biological weapons.
The problem is who controls the new agricultural technology
As in other areas of life, when we talk about feeding 7.5 billion people, we must put into perspective the development of these technologies and their possible application and expansion.
The liberalization of trade rules, then initiated and extended with the globalization process, has led to a concentration in few hands of markets at all levels. And the food is a good example.
A few multinationals control the vast majority of the production and sale of seeds and pesticides or fertilizers, as well as the research and commercialization of transgenics. Another small group dominates the food distribution sector.
The size of these large corporations makes them central players in the food system, while at the same time subtracting governments’ ability to act. Companies, by their very nature, are generally driven by commercial interests.
These corporations protect their progress with patents to, obviously, make a profit for them. And they also focus on what is most profitable to them: the most developed countries.
It is no secret to anyone that the majority of people today who need food live in developing or underdeveloped countries, so the concentration of technologies in the hands of a few corporations to benefit economically would have no effect on the solution of a famine in Africa, for example.
G7 corporations and governments are a major and essential part of the food production system. If the tools of precision agriculture are developed only by the big multinationals, they will be the ones that keep the data that these systems capture, in compensation for their work of innovation.
Therefore, even if only with technology, data and genetic editing were able to form super efficient production systems, its benefit would not be significant from the social point of view if it is not regulated and limits its exploitation.
Another issue is that if this model of monoculture developed in laboratories was adopted worldwide, it is likely that it would leave hundreds of millions of people without land and without livelihoods; who would be pushed into poverty, which would result in famine; generating instability, conflicts and uncontrolled migrations; even worse than those we already have.
Knowing that there are corporations that are much more powerful than governments, if they do not apply adequate regulation controls, the power to feed or let these billions die of hunger would remain in a few private hands, and knowing their hunger for excessive profits, this would result in the exclusion of most of humanity.
It must be remembered that small farmers feed more than 80 percent of the human population, so leaving them out would only guarantee a famine of planetary proportions.