Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Agricultural-Industrial Complex


I've been reading a lot lately about how food is manufactured in this country. The natural process of growing food, raising farm animals and processing food had become totally industrialized. Today's global corporation can't wait on nature to provide the food they want to sell. Nature is two slow and unpredictable for today's executives and boardrooms. Food must be able to be manufactured on a predictable time schedule just like any other manufactured good or commodity. Even farm animals have been reduced to "meat production units" which are a given growth hormones and antibiotics to maximize their production.

Today integrated food conglomerates control everything from the genetically engineered seeds to the final processed product we purchase in a cardboard box that contains a list of ingredients we can't pronounce and can't comprehend. The food produced is not to provide nutrition for people but to provide profits for corporations. The way the food is produced may not be friendly to the environment or healthy to consume but it ensures a large supply of edible stuff that can keep corporate profits high.

The most common name for the industrial food business is Agribusisness. It is a portmanteaux that combines Agriculture and Business. Other terms include Corporate Farming and Factory Farming. I don't think any of these words captures the complexities of the physical processes, corporate entities, food processing factories and relationships between agriculture, business and the government that exist in bringing edible food substances to the tables of America. So I coined a new term:

Agricultural-Industrial Complex

Agricultural-Industrial Complex borrows from the Military-Industrial Complex that was in common use in the 1960s and 1970s. The term military-industrial complex represented the essense of tight relationship between the military, defense industry and the civilian parts of our government including the Congress. The same type of relationship exists today between agriculture, business and the government. The governments support of industrial agriculture is inherent in the farm bill passed last fall and all the farm bills for the lass 30 years. The subsidies in the bill support industrial agriculture and the comgalmorate food processors. I think Agricultural-Industrial Complex is the best term to describe how food gets manufactured and delivered from the farm all the way to our mouths.


The Corporate Farming page in Wikipedia provides a great overview of the Agricultural-Industrial Complex

1 comment:

doubletruth said...

I enjoyed reading your article. The new term also brings to mind lobbing, a key part of this industry.