Food: commodity or social good?

What's behind the supermarket shelves? Products and more products cover our vision. In the current model of consumption, it is difficult to think about the origin of what one buys and the whole productive and industrial chain that hides behind its packaging. The a modern 'high speed' lifestyle blinds us to the model of territorial, economic, and productive domination.

In the outskirts of Córdoba, in 2002, the "Grupo de Madres de Barrio Ituzaingo Anexo" began to notice the explosive increase in cases of cancer, leukemias, allergies, abortions, cases of malformation and other diseases among neighbors. Since then, the mothers of the neighborhood have been at the forefront of the fight for life. Through their study demands, the contamination of the neighborhood was detected. Fumigations were occurring in urban areas, without control, without protection to the local population. Realizing the responsibility of the State, mothers have organized and mobilized for public health. They are 15 years in resistance, challenging and monitoring the neighboring fields, facing the fumigations and denouncing all contamination coming from the agricultural way of production that feeds all our productive chain.


Group of Mothers of Barrio Ituzaingo Anexo in the "Concentracion de los barbijos" - periodic intervention they do every month on the city center of Córdoba.

Cycling through the fields of Argentina this chain becomes increasingly visible and increasingly bitter. The slowness of the pedaled miles gives us time to observe: an endless number of hectares of fields that take turns: soy, corn and wheat. Soy, corn and wheat. Soy. Corn. Wheat. Among the fields, only announcements of agribusiness big names: Monsanto-Bayer, Cargill, Dow-DuPont, Syngenta-ChemChina, SummitAgro. Foreign companies, especially European and yankes, make the land a good business in Latin America.

The weary earth - almost sand. It is no longer the fertile basis, the life. It is the substrate on the verge of death, which receives seeds, fertilizers, agrochemicals that exploit it until its exhaustion. Endless lines of trucks on the way to the ports. Ads of transgenic seeds that promise thriving harvests. They advertise with an endless repertoire of euphemisms. Factories of agrochemicals glued to the villages. Imported farm machinery stores. As we cycle from city to city it is impossible to turn our backs on this reality.

"The right to life, the right to health, the right to food must be placed above the commercial interests of so many companies. Food is not a commodity, it is a social good that must be within reach and accessible to all society. "

Campo por onde passamos na Província de Buenos Aires

The above sentence illustrates a bit of the fight that the nutritionist Miryam Gorban (85) has been facing in the last 25 years of militancy against the agroindustrial model and the crop technological package that feeds the model of large-scale production using transgenics and herbicides .

We met Miryam in Buenos Aires and she, as a great icon of this struggle in Argentina and in the world, shared with us a little of her trajectory, about the importance of food sovereignty, of reflection on the nutrition and origin of our food, besides the urgency of To rethink production and cultivation models.

Miryam Gorban

In October of last year for the first time in history Monsanto was accused of ecocide and tried in a popular court in The Hague, The Netherlands. Representatives from several countries presented documents and evidence of the harmful effects of the production model and the responsibility of the multinational and its herbicides. Miryam, who was part of Argentina's representative group at the trial points out the importance of the event:

"This court can not penalize. But yes, it gives us the tools for us to take ownership of them. Now they are in our hands. To claim for justice, to condemn them from public opinion, to organize one and thousand actions to demonstrate who they really are. To reverse this terrible situation we have to go through."

Consistent with her speech, her performance in Argentina has been intense. Miryam is the coordinator of the "Cátedra Libre de Soberanía Alimentaria", a weekly class open to the community at one of the most important Nutrition Schools in the country: the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Buenos Aires.

There, topics that involve not only aspects related to food, but also to the models of cultivation and their consequences both in human health, and in what concerns the environment and ecology as a whole are discussed. In addition, it points to the intervention of the companies involved not only in agricultural production, but also in academic research itself, as Miryam points:

"Companies determine with their hands and their perverse action the life and health of our peoples. How we eat, how we are, how we walk, how we learn, how we are at this university, how we are at this school. [...] The freedom of scientific research, independent research. [...] Because here Professor Andrés Carrasco was the one who denounced the effects of transgenics, of glyphosate on genesis and the development of diseases that affect us. The company was not stigmatized, the researcher was stigmatized and stood up and made this complaint. "

Investment in research and public universities by these companies has been compromising the legitimacy and impartiality of knowledge production. And just like academic production, public debate has yet to evolve.

It's not just seeds and agrochemicals: foreign agricultural machinery companies, transportation technologies and infrastructure do well with this model. It is the colonization that we still suffer. And this profit comes at whose cost? Many things are forgotten because they are invisible.

"It's been so many years. It has costed so many lives already. They contaminated the water, the soil, the air and now they say: 'agrochemicals do not cause disease'. Agrochemicals are responsible for neurological diseases, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, autism, the contamination of women and diseases. [...] The only way out is this agro-industrial model. "

Several originary peoples had their lands ransacked and were removed from their livelihood. In a society dominated by European immigrants, they have still been oppressed, with their cultures and identities massified, stigmatized and continuously attacked. Discrimination, persecution and even murder continue to occur, without being punished or even problematized.

Peasants had to leave their small properties because of market pressure and the expansion of latifundia. The automation of agricultural machinery takes the employment of those who continue to live in the villages and, being expelled in every way, gradually migrated to the peripheries of the great metropolises where they live in precarious situations. Not counting consumption and contact with pesticides, which has been the cause of lethal diseases.

Floods are recurring themes in the field. In recent years their increase has been brutal and they have been increasing. There are always stories and stories told by people on our way. Volunteer firemen who receive us always comment on the periodic floods and their consequences. All signs point to the responsibility of the agro-industrial farming model.

Rainwater accumulates in the fields because the earth no longer absorbs water. It is not necessary to be an expert to realize how tired, sandy and compacted the soil is. The native vegetation, which with deeper roots favors infiltration - no longer exists. In the Province of Córdoba there is only 3% of the native forest, which has been systematically swallowed by the fields of cultivation.

Nonetheless, the mainstream media hardly address these issues. We end our days always wondering: how much is still invisible? How much information is still missing? How long will the earth stand?

"It's not a problem in the field. It is a problem of our country, of our society. [...] It is a state problem. There is no state that does not have as its fundamental role to protect the life and health of its population. "

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Links: Grupo De Madres De Barrio Ituzaingo Anexo Cátedra Libre de Soberanía Alimentaria - Escuela de Nutricion, UBA Monsanto tribunal:

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