According to former President Clinton, he and the U.S. blew it on food aid to developing countries. In the story he also says that President Bush was right in asking that 25% of U.S. aid be in cash rather than commodity crops.
First, let me point out my headline. I said “Bush was right.” I could easily have written it as “Clinton says U.S. blew it on food aid”, but I didn’t. I credited Bush with being right, even if it pained me a little to do that. It just shows that journalists can be fair and unbiased. So there.
And I’d like to take Clinton’s remarks a bit further. Not only are we wrong for requiring countries to drop crop subsidies from their own government in order to get aid from the U.S., but the global captains of industry are wrong when they encourage farmers in developing nations to quit growing their own native foods they could use to feed themselves in order to plant more crops they’ll never eat because it will all be sent to the U.S. or other Western Nations to feed our desire for cheap food.
Furthermore, when they do start growing their own food again, it should be with seeds of their own choosing, not GMO terminator seeds manufactured by companies like Monsanto or Cargill and sent as a “gift” by the U.S. Some gift. “Here, have some seeds, that will grow crops this year, and this year only. After that, you’ll have to pay a behemoth U.S. company to get them.”
Finally, treating food as a commodity isn’t just a problem for developing nations. The big commodity crops (corn, wheat, rice, soy planted in giant monocultures) are anathema to responsible agriculture and a big reason Americans are so fat. All these commdoties are pulled apart and reassembled into crap food like cereal straws, Cheetos (which I love), and Oreos (which I also love). Basically, most of the “food” in the middle of the grocery store is made up of some reformulated commodity crop. Yet the U.S. government continues to prop up farmers who grow these crops, and even punishes them for trying to grow anything else like tomatoes or carrots. This is why it’s cheaper to buy a Little Debbie (which I also love) than, say, an apple.
So, certainly, let’s work to make the food aid we provide to other countries more appropriate, but let’s not forget to tend our own gardens while we’re at it.