INCREASING HUNGER AND FOOD INSECURITY, A RESULT OF EXTREME CONTROL OF LARGE FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL CO
Food insecurity persists and the hunger experienced by the people worsens despite IRRI's pretention of its alleged impact on lowering poverty levels and increasing food security. This is contrary to his mission to eradicate hunger in rice-dependent countries through research to increase production.
Despite IRRI's vaunt of being the leading institution in innovation, technology and methods related to rice production, they have only made farmers passive recipients of the technology they sell while ignoring farmers' methods for increasing food production. The market-driven approach will only exacerbate the bankruptcy of the farmers because it effectively erases the existing traditional and local seeds developed by the farmers and the rich system of farmers' seeding.
IRRI has effectively changed the sustainable farming into farming business systems that are capital and chemical intensive and promotes monoculture. Thanks to IRRI, farmers have been in debt as a result of them being pushed to rely on hybrid seeds that are highly dependent on chemical fertilizers produced by agrochemical companies. IRRI's Green Revolution was a major factor in the existing rural usury where farmers were embroiled in debt due to rising production costs and low product prices. With the bankruptcy of production, it pushed millions of young people and the second generation of farmers to leave the countryside.
IRRI also succeeded in opening the countryside to a market-based economy and free trade, where rice was considered a commodity. This was exacerbated by the dictates of the World Trade Organization to the Philippine government on the enacted Rice Liberalization Law, where cheap and subsidized rice imports competed with the local production in the country.
IRRI continues to serve large corporations and financial institutions. So far, approximately 25% of IRRI's operating funds come from philanthro-capitalists such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and private companies (Bayer, Syngenta), 25% of which come from Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), 7% from international organizations (The World Bank, Africa and Asian Development Bank, FAO) and 33% from national governments (US, China, India, Switzerland, Germany).
The so-called public nature of IRRI, in fact, is a source of cheap technical manpower for Trans National Corporations (TNCs) and gives credibility to the science of TNCs. This has resulted in seed industries. It benefits from controlling the genetic diversity of rice enriched by farmers. More than 130,000 varieties of rice seeds are currently owned by IRRI, and have been provided with perpetual funding to maintain the gene bank through financial support from the Global Crop Diversity Fund.
Currently, four agrochemical companies (known as the “Fat Four” including Bayer-Monsanto, ChemChina-Syngenta, BASF and DuPont-Dow or better known today as Corteva) dominate the seed industry that effectively gives control to corporations rich in capital.
IRRI has failed miserably in ensuring food security in rural areas, as worsening poverty and malnutrition still exist. Instead of providing real food security solutions, it has focused on promoting the consumption of biofortified crops such as the Golden Rice.
According to GRAIN (a small non-profit organization promoting community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems, the Green Revolution that began developing new varieties of staple crops such as rice and corn in the sixties only increased calorie consumption in developing countries and destroying farm diversity. GRAIN added that the Green Revolution has resulted in the domination of white rice in the former diverse diet of Asians with dramatic health effects.
On the anniversary of the six decades of IRRI operations, PNFSP is stepping up its call for an farmer-centered agriculture that values agro-biodiversity and food sovereignty. ##