PANDEMIC

Could underdevelopment be our saviour?

In ‘advanced’ societies of the West most food products are highly processed or engineered.

In Summary
  • Intensive industrial food production provides ample opportunity for viruses to mutate and spread and Karl Marx wrote about this in the mid-nineteenth century.
  • A tiny minority of obscenely rich capitalists is driving these ‘developments’, we need to end factory farming and industrial agriculture.

in our ‘poor’ and ‘underdeveloped’ Third World the vast majority of our people depend on subsistence farming and livestock rearing ie, a meal is prepared with meat/vegetables/fruit fresh from the farm with no intermediary addition or manipulation.

Could underdevelopment be our saviour?
Could underdevelopment be our saviour?
Image: OZONE

Dr Anil Kumar Dixit, an expert in Ayurveda, India’s ancient medical science was asked for a possible explanation for the relatively lower coronavirus-caused death rates in most parts of Africa and Asia. That is apart from the climate factor. ‘Diet’ was Dr Dixit’s assessment.

Diet has two aspects: the ingredients we choose to feed ourselves and the way we prepare them for edible consumption. In the so-called ‘advanced’ societies of the West most food products are highly processed or engineered. But in our ‘poor’ and ‘underdeveloped’ Third World the vast majority of our people depend on subsistence farming and livestock rearing ie, a meal is prepared with meat/vegetables/fruit fresh from the farm with no intermediary addition or manipulation.

Largely we eat that which is readily available to us ie, the foods we have been eating for generations; but most importantly it is food that is freshly cooked at home. Vegetarians, I am sure, have an added advantage though Dr Dixit was quick to point out that Ayurveda is not averse to non-vegetarian diets (a common misconception).

Viral epidemics have been with us for a long time; what is different is that they are getting more frequent and virulent and spread further and faster than ever before. Ebola first emerged in West Africa in 1976 and a village or two got wiped out. But in 2013 it became a major epidemic, 11,000 people were killed and there were bodies lying in the city streets. What had changed?

The genetics of the virus were no different but multi-nationals had entered the palm oil farming sector. Forests were cut down for corporate plantations and the peasant farms were pushed to the edges erasing the divide between urban and rural. The virus-carrying bats of the forest were dispersed and the virus moved to a new host: human. Needless to say the public health systems could not cope with the ‘invasion’.

After 2008, Goldman Sachs withdrew their investments in housing in the USA and moved their money to China to buy 10 large poultry farms. Where? On the outskirts of Wuhan. Of course GS did not cause Covid-19 but globalisation has facilitated the rise of pandemics. And these viral pathogens emerge globally, not just in Africa or China, what happens on one side of the world affects the other.

First, they sell us food that makes us ill, the production of which generates a deadly viral-epidemic threat. Then they sell us the drugs to make us well again. It is insulting nonsense
Lee Humber in the Socialist Review

Intensive industrial food production provides ample opportunity for viruses to mutate and spread and Karl Marx wrote about this in the mid-nineteenth century.

From developing sheep and cattle breeds to be rounder and broader, to battery farms and stall feeding to the latest: breeding of featherless chickens in Israel – all done in the search for profit.

And it is no different in agriculture. From Monsanto’s GMO products to waxing and polishing cucumbers and injecting colouring agents, steroids, hormones, sugared water and chemicals into fruit and vegetables to enhance their taste, colouring, shape and preservation. All of course in the drive for profit! The global market demands chickens with over-sized breasts, standard shaped eggs with deep orange yolks, pink-coloured beef, ultra-sweet melons and uniformly red tomatoes.

Manipulated and engineered and tightly packed together with no immunological diversity; is it surprising the virulent pathogens in these animals thrive and spread like wildfire? More animals today are in captivity than in the wild; and animal rights and welfare is not even on our agenda. And if this is not bad enough, food is then processed. It is mass produced, is consistent from country to country and has a long shelf/freezer life and lacks the nutritional values of un-processed foods. It is commonly referred to as ‘fast food’ or ‘junk food’.

So what can we do? Invent more anti-virus vaccines? ‘First, they sell us food that makes us ill, the production of which generates a deadly viral-epidemic threat. Then they sell us the drugs to make us well again. It is insulting nonsense’, writes Lee Humber in the Socialist Review.

A tiny minority of obscenely rich capitalists is driving these ‘developments’, we need to end factory farming and industrial agriculture.  And we in the Third World must find another route to real development—for the many, not the few. Development for people’s needs and not for profit—a route out of the capitalist system.

Arundhati Roy says: The pandemic is a portal. True – and it is up to us to choose the road ahead.

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