Feed people, not profit

Climate change and other problems may, in the coming decades, spread hunger even further. Systemic changes are needed to transform the current food paradigm.

History has shown that the capitalist mode of food production is inadequate to satisfy, in quantity and quality, the vital needs of all humanity and to guarantee the sustainability of the ecosystems that support production. Although agricultural productivity has increased significantly and there is productive capacity to feed the entire world population well, the logic and functioning of the system does not allow it.

As was well explained by Karl Marx, the capitalist mode of production based on the exploitation of labor (with the consequent appropriation of surplus value by capitalists) and on the production of goods (exchange values) for sale on the market, aims to ceaseless pursuit of profit. This dynamic creates a disruption in the metabolic interaction between humans and the earth. Human metabolism with nature is regulated by society through human work and its development within historical social formations.

According to Karl Marx, capitalism alienates workers from the means of production and, in the process, both the soil and the worker, the original and lasting sources of all wealth, are harmed.

The accumulation of capital promotes looting that results in a profound imbalance in the relationship between society and nature. It creates a contradiction. In this way, soils, waters and food are depleted or even poisoned. The relationship between human beings and nature through work, when subjected to the incessant production of goods and capitalist accumulation, creates this problem. It is a production to enhance capital.

If we analyze the theory, Karl Marx's predictions turned out to be correct. We can see that the capitalist food production method has resulted in:

a) Huge inequalities between social classes and between countries in the world system. On the one hand, excess food, on the other, food scarcity.

b) Emergence of agro-industrial oligopolies and concentrated distribution in a few transnational companies, which control food prices and harm those who produce and those who consume.

c) Development of an unsustainable global model, based on cheap oil and exports.

d) Promotion of the industrialization of agriculture with monocultures, pesticides and intensive irrigation that destroys soils, biodiversity and depletes water reserves. We are witnessing a decrease in agricultural diversity and a reduction in present and future productive capacity.

e) Overload of ecosystems with the production of biofuels and animal feed for slaughter and consumption.

f) Production of food products that do not bring any nutritional value to the human body. Food products (sometimes toxic) are sold and then the drugs are sold (preferably to relieve but not cure) to treat diseases.

g) Speculation about food in the global financial markets and the destruction of small family and peasant products contributing to rural depopulation.

These are several of the consequences of subordinating the vital interests of humanity and the Earth to the process of capitalist reproduction and the pursuit of profit. The director of the World Food Program recently warned of a hunger pandemic. Climate change and other problems could, in the coming decades, spread hunger even further.

Therefore, we need systemic changes to transform the current food paradigm. A new model of agricultural production and distribution that reduces environmental impacts on the planet and ensures an adequate diet for all humanity. To feed people instead of feeding profit.


I dedicate this article to Maria do Carmo Bica (1963-2020) for his work in favor of agriculture, food sovereignty, the social and solidarity economy, the rural world, the interior and the rights of women. A life for people and the future.


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