In Tuesday's event on the food crisis and food sovereignty Esther Vivas, academic and activist from Barcelona, presented us with key problems brought about by irrational ecological capitalism. For Esther the food crisis was caused by the logic of capitalism, which allows for the speculation of the prices of food products, it creates a myth in the free trade agreements between developed and developing countries as core countries subsidise their own agricultural production disallowing peripheral countries their right to subsidize their own products. Furthermore, the core countries and its accomplices, the IMF, WB, WTO impose a minimisation of the role of the state, liberalisation of the economy and privatisation of public services, in effect kicking away the ladder and depriving countries of deciding what they produce and eat. As a consequence of the logic of capital the people who suffer the most are the people from the south, the small-scale subsistence farmer, the peasants, in short the nobodies of this world. This is due to a variety of reasons; colonial legacy, climate change, the ecological capitalist system and above all the neoliberal policies imposed by developed countries and their accomplices; the IMF, the World Bank and their platform of action, the World Trade Organisation. It is important to emphasise that the people who benefit the most from this unequal exchange of goods are the agribusiness, big corporations. Moreover, the pharmaceutical industry and chemical companies such as Monsanto also benefit the most from these policies because the latter provides fancy fertilizers that small scale farmers must buy for the imposed products they have to produce in order to subsist.
Another feature that is worth highlighting in Esther’s talk is the extent to which women are encapsulated in the capitalist system, which also entails a patriarchal structure. Women own only a tiny portion of land and earn less than men in the food product chain. Furthermore, the irrational food chain model created by ecological capitalism ferments a reduction of biodiversity, not solely in developing countries, but also in developed countries. Esther presented us with example in Barcelona, her hometown, in which it was observed that the variety of apples in the region has decreased to solely 3 varieties in the region. Moreover, this type of system also had a grave effect on health as food is contaminated with hormones, vaccines. Concerning GMO food product Esther highlighted how these decrease the amount of biodiversity and the health risk it represented.
To combat this irrational ecological system Esther presented us with the radical alternative of food sovereignty, which allowed a local, direct linkage between the farmer and the consumer, so that we could control how and what we finally consume. Furthermore, she sustained that the issue on the ecological crisis should be politicised by demanding politicians, the politicians whom have no political will, to sponsor changes that people demand and which are necessary.