Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Drugs for farm animals can end hunger says exec.

The restless never-ending process of profit-making alone is what he aims at. This boundless greed after riches, this passionate chase after exchange-value is common to the capitalist and the miser; but while the miser is merely a capitalist gone mad, the capitalist is a rational miser. The never-ending augmentation of exchange-value, which the miser strives after by seeking to save his money from circulation, is attained by the more acute capitalist, by constantly throwing it afresh into circulation. 

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

In my opinion, the quote above is a beautiful description of the process of capital accumulation and what makes a capitalist a capitalist.  It describes the life activity of certain individuals, a class of people. Many workers unfamiliar with some of the terminology may not find it so clear at first, but you will. You will because it describes objective reality, we already know it; we live it. It simply describes what is.

As workers, sellers of labor power or our ability to work. We do not go through this same process.

We know that the world is all about money and we know that the rich exploit us in so many ways.  We understand clearly that money is social power and one can’t get rich through an honest days work as we’re led to believe.

Jeff Simmonds is a capitalist, a big capitalist. He is the president of Elanco and Elanco is a division of Eli Lilly the Fortune 500 drug manufacturer. Elanco is Eli Lilly’s drugs for farm animals division and Simmonds is convinced in the human benefit of using drugs on farm animals to make them produce more, “We don’t need more farm animals”, he often says in his presentations, “We need productive animals.”*  But isn’t production a natural aspect of life?

Elanco is a $2.3 billion business providing “antibiotics and productivity enhancers” to farmers that will get their animals fatter quicker shortening the time it takes to get them to the marketplace. The quicker the sale of the commodity the quicker the surplus value contained within it is realized and profit made. The never-ending augmentation of exchange value.

Animal drug manufacturers are concerned that under pressure from food activists and health scientists some company’s like McDonalds and Subway are phasing out purchases of meat from doped up animals. Some food industry capitalists like the world’s largest hog producer, Smithfield Foods, has stopped using the muscle growth drug ractopamine on its pigs for example.  The drug forces the pig to grow quicker with less feed so it saves money there too. Ractomine is already banned in the EU, China and Russia.

But profit is the last thing on Simmons mind. He chides the American consumer for their selfish desire for food, “…that is organic, antibiotic free, or pasture raised.”

Industrial farming is “not only necessary” he tells Bloomberg BusinessWeek, it is a moral necessity to feed the billions of people who need food.  Simmons, the Saint, the man of integrity he is, doesn’t even pitch his own products during his speeches, the drugs that make animals fatter quicker and will save humanity. He, “..has a higher purpose: alleviating world hunger” Business Week writes. 

Simmons cares about people the good folks at Business Week can see that, “Simmons’ aggressive argument is that the world’s growing demand for meat, milk and eggs is a more urgent priority”, than what American consumers want out of the food industry.  Whether or not the demand is driven by the consumer rather than the seller is another issue altogether. If all demand naturally arises from the desires of the consumer, they wouldn’t spend millions convincing us we need something. Eli Lilly makes Cialis. A rival of Viagra. Somehow I get the impression through the TV that the entire US male population has erectile dysfunction on the one hand and is willing to suffer through four hour long erections in order to cure it.

Simmons tells his story of seeing poverty and that this is what drives him to save the world’s starving people. He describes one such scene while he was in Brazil and his security guard who hadn’t been paid in months brings his two starving daughters to Simmons’ door. “If you haven’t seen kids who haven’t eaten in a couple of days, or even a day, the wrongness of that screamed out at me.”

 That was enough for Jeff and he’s been “honing” his message ever since says BW. “It’s time to stop being politically correct and get after this.”, he adds. He blames a “minority of pushy elites, vegans, organic die-hards, and GMO bashers……keeping vital technology from farmers…”
This is not "farming"

People like Simmons are the lowest form of life there is.  Similar to when they argue against a higher minimum wage because it will mean job losses, appealing to our self- interest as opposed to possible cuts in profits which is theirs, Simmons claims he is driven by a desire to feed humanity.  Even if the majority of people against the use of drugs in animal feed are middle class and they are not, in Europe and here, workers are more and more concerned about what they put in the food we eat, they are correct in their protestations and it is the method of producing food that needs to change.  It should not be in private hands first off.

For Simmonds too, profit doesn’t enter in to it, he never mentions it. But what he is reacting to is sales figures and a growing movement against GM food and the poisonous and unhealthy way it is produced among the populations in the advanced capitalist economies in particular. International sales grew 16% in 2014 but US sales only grew by 6%. US sales were up 30% only two years earlier.

Food production is a multi-billion, perhaps trillion dollar business.  Drugs are an integral part of this business and they are used not because human society cannot produce enough food but because it is a business and it is private hands, producing food like any other commodity has to be profitable for the owners of capital or they simply won’t invest in this area of production, drugs increase productivity. Like auto production or any other commodity production, the quicker the commodity is produced, sent to market, sold, and the surplus value realized through sale, the quicker the profit returns to the capitalist and the whole process can continue afresh. Investors in the food industry may just as well plow their money in to autos or homebuilding.

We live in a global economy. Food, like autos, are produced in all parts of the world and exported and/ imported by all the countries of the world to one extent or another. Giant economies like the US destroy weaker producers and local farming in the former colonial world as NAFTA has done to Mexico. Giants like ConAgra, Monsanto, Unilever, P&G, Nestle, global corporations like these control the manufacture and distribution of food and determine the nature of food production itself. They spend billions of dollars bribing politicians to make laws that protect their profits at the expense of public health, the health of animals and of the soil.

The existence of separate and competing nations states within the framework of a global economy is a huge obstacle to a healthy approach to producing food for the world’s people. The problem cries out for a global solution but this is impossible in a capitalist for profit economy.  Like all major industries, food production must be taken out of private hands and placed under democratic control and management of the consumer and the workers in the industry.  The skills and knowledge of those educated in the related sciences presently on the payroll of agricultural capitalists can be placed at the service of the population as a whole.

Marx’s description of the capitalist and the miser above describes the process that separates the two, their different functions focusing on the owner of capital as the personification of this process of capitalism.  In the link above, he also describes the differences between the capitalist and the worker.

It’s not rocket science, it’s social science, but it is concrete and corresponds with objective reality. This is why this philosopher, economist, historian is so vilified by the mainstream economists and the defenders of the market, he explains the world as it really is.

* Beefed Up: BusinessWeek 11-2-15

1 comment:

Corey said...

Sure, no one is hungry, but who is going to flip the bill when they all get some disease like cancer or give birth to a three headed baby with its faces on the outside of its head?