The reading assigned for this week takes a look at two very different regions of the world united by a central crop: corn. Starting in Mozambique, Wise begins by discussing the environmental/climate restrictions that agribusinesses felt were cause for concern and necessary to implement their inorganic methods of farming into and then follows this background by asserting the self-reliance of the Mozambique people through their own trusted methods of combatting climate control and producing successful crops. This serves as a introduction to the first few chapters of the reading discussing growing corn in Africa and their struggle to do so without the over-barring, and often detrimental, presence of agribusiness and biotech industries. Similar to the reading about chicken last week, these business seem to care more about the potential monetary gain that they can benefit from than the success of the local farmers and health of the families they are supposed to be providing. It was shocking to learn that farmers receive a mere 15% of the revenue generated by their crops and that the farmers are tasked with taking on high risks with very low rewards, similar to last weeks readings; much of the burden and unfair practices are projected onto the producer, and the large monopoly-like companies have no regard for their effects. Such input from these large companies caused African farmers, specifically in Malawi, to focus on how they can be more self-reliant (another theme that seems central to studying foodways) and saw a shift from large-scale, quick, and cheap, not to mention damaging, farming to more local, small-scale, environmentally friendly methods. But the presence of these business remain regardless of the involvement of advocacy groups and protest of local farmers, citing false myths such as food scarcity and crisis as reasons why they need to be involved and why local farms need to utilize their synthetic and chemical fertilizers/seeds in order to save an over-run population from starvation. By using these misleading and selfish practices, such industries are able to keep a firm hold on poor and politically disadvantaged farmers in Africa and other parts of the world.
In the second section of the reading, Wise discusses the growth of corn in Mexico, where it is a staple crop as well. Here, though, Wise focusses on corn as a culturally important crop to this population and how the presence of Genetically Modified strands pose health concerns as well as barriers to authentic yields of corn. Similar to Africa, the government is closely aligned with biotech firms, which causes a continuance of unhealthy and unsafe agricultural practices to occur throughout Mexico despite conferences held featuring environmental and advocacy groups reporting on the negative effects of these practices. It is appalling to read that these groups present solid, scientific evidence to contradict the government and biotech industries claims of success, yet they are overruled and overlooked in favor of the rich agribusiness potential. It seems as thought those most effected by the decisions, the farmers, have the least say. Hopefully in class we can discuss why governments knowingly engage with biotech agencies though they are fully aware of the adverse effects. I am curious to know if it is solely based on political and monetary gain, or if there is more to it.