Friday, 20 March 2015

Green Revolution 2

 Originally posted on Monday, 28 February 2011
In case you missed the original Green Revolution, let me briefly fill you in. It reads like the script of a best-selling film and maybe a creative film writer will pick up on it or already has.  Sorry if it comes across with some sarcasm, but there isn't really any nice way to say these things.

The Green Revolution story started in the U.S.A. but soon was taken up by many other countries. It was about spreading chemical and technological farming all over the world. Norman Borlaug, working in close conjunction with the Rockefeller Foundation, even received a Nobel peace prize for his part in this battle (see
Seeds of Destruction). There were many casualties, especially in India where thousands of farmers committed suicide by drinking pesticides. But millions of hectares were conquered all over the world, especially in undeveloped countries (reported in the Financial Times on 27 July 2010) but see also the World Bank). In addition, propaganda was highly important to fill the ranks of the armies and keep the masses in a consumerist mode thereby supporting the mission and future attacks.

One of the favourite weapons during the Green Revolution was the gene gun, but
the recombinant DNA canon was also widely used. Other techniques for destroying the enemy, Nature, which were widely used, many even by civilians, were herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, farm machinery, slash and burn, pharmaceuticals, and vast monoculture fields and farms.

We are now in the process of developing the story for the sequel called Green Revolution 2. It is based on the claim of many governments, including the UK coalition government, to be the ‘Greenest Government Ever’ and promises to include lots more violence and destruction, which will ensure that it is another winner at the box office.

The plot was in full action when I visited London on 15 February 2011. After attending the launch meeting of the
All Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology in the Grand Committee Room off Westminster Hall in London, I headed over to the offices of Stephenson Harwood Solicitors for an evening meeting with an entirely different outlook with Lord Henley as organised by the UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA). Lord Henley was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in the Cameron Ministry after the 6 May 2010 general election and was asked to attend this meeting to answer questions put by UKELA members about the government’s policies in his remit of responsibilities. I volunteered a question about the impending lift of the zero tolerance of unauthorised gmos in imported animal feed. However, it is not the answers to questions that add to this story, but what Lord Henley said in his speech beforehand.  He set out the government's policies on many issues which generally lend to the plot and basic story lines of the Green Revolution 2. I’ve embellished on the details a little for the sake of drama, but the story is all based on real life.  This is the story ...

The nation’s health is in a mess. Pan into the mostly obese people shopping and working in Tescos, Asdas (Walmart), Morrisons and Sainsburys. Next pan into overcrowded hospitals where patients lie on trolleys in the hallways and the obese ones need two trolleys or extra large ones which block some hallways. As reported today (28 February 2011),
admissions to hospitals for the main reason of being obese were up 30% in 2009-10 from 2008-09.  Finally, observe the commonly long queues for prescriptions at chemists such as Boots, but also in the supermarkets and surgeries.

The economy is struggling. Citizens bail out banks after top banking executives and many investors make off with millions. Then the age of austerity settles in and what do the citizens get in return for saving the economy, nothing but public spending cutbacks and job losses. Thanks very much. Many people are laid off work in just about every line of business, but especially in the public sector. Small businesses struggle to get financing. To top it all off, citizens are told to increase spending and buy more cheap crap that quickly ends up in landfill sites and cheap techno-food that is causing the health crisis.

Climate change is important to the coalition government and other nations. The proposal is to deal with climate change by incorporating further costs for natural resources into products so that the consumer can pay for it. Here in the UK, it is predicted that we will have higher temperatures in the summer and wetter winters. Measures will be taken to protect the railway line in the south of England and other such infrastructures. Pan into flooded towns at Christmas, a train in Devon with a wave crashing over it as it travels along the track, and miles of cracked land on farms, especially in East Anglia, in the summer.

Despite the summer draughts and wet winters, farmers are being encouraged and required to grow more food, much of it for export. It was done in the Green Revolution, and regardless of much advice to the contrary, it will be done for the Green Revolution 2. More innovation and technologies are sought. Governments claim that food production is to increase and this will ensure that everyone in the world will be better fed. That’s not what happened in the Green Revolution and it’s not what will happen in the Green Revolution 2 either.

Also similar to what happened in the Green Revolution, action is needed to show reduction of our impact on the environment, but this will not result in new rules and laws. Rather, the UK government, as is being done in the USA as well (and many other countries), will take the role of encouraging and supporting businesses (particularly transnational corporations) and even freeing them from current rules as they will be deemed unnecessary. This is seen as being central to economic growth. So, existing regulations will be reviewed with, no, not the environment in mind, but economic growth.

But fear not. A scientific, evidenced-based approach on alternative policies will be taken with an emphasis on business outcomes by using a systematic approach. It almost sounds like it’s not how you do it that matters but what the end result is, which is not best practice for good ethics.  But it is also not how the criminal justice system is supposed to work, never mind the government. However, criminal offences will be reduced, to lessen the obvious contradiction here.

There will be a positive thread moving through the disasters with re-using and recycling being encouraged by the few government employees that manage to hang onto their jobs.

The overriding picture is one where people live in isolated boxes/pre-fabricated units, with lots of plastic products cluttering up their private spaces eating ready meals,
NestlĂ© products and other such processed foods in front of the massive TVs that dominate the living area and are kept on all the time even when the occupants are using the computer.  This is already happening, and therefore, not hard to imagine. The messages come through by all mass media advertising (direct and hidden) to consume, consume, consume and not to worry about anything else because governments and big businesses are talking with each other on an international level and working together, albeit secretly, to solve all the problems. However, getting everyone to consume more is going to be some task while we've bailed out the banks, pay higher taxes and many have lost their jobs.

I think this would make a good American film because they’re so good at the doomsday ones where Americans save the situation, often the world, at the last minute. But I wish it was just a movie.  At any rate, I hope we manage to change the drama in real life to a healthy, sustainable present with a future despite what governments and transnational corporations are doing.  Something along the lines of
The One Straw Revolution would suit me.

P. S. Bill Gates is in the photo, but you could substitute a portrait of any number of mostly white businessmen or top government officials.