Cargill’s Brave New World

This Cargill ad on msnbc.com yesterday read: “Cargill is helping new ideas emerge from nature. Find out how at cargillcreates.com. So I clicked.

The site’s predominant color is green, a direct allusion to nature and sustainability (envy and inexperience, too, but that’s another story). The tagline reads “collaborate > create > succeed”, followed by “TM” for trademark, a symbolic claim to private property that has served Cargill extremely well. Case studies based on this so-special-let’s-trademark-it formula abound. In “collaboration” with its customers, Cargill has “created”: a new bread, a better burger, more flavorful pork, cholesterol-reducing milk, a new line of whole-grain cereal, a new crop of corn, a better foam, better feeds for dairy cows, better tasting sugar-free chocolate, better processed eggs, better quality beef for supermarkets, better frozen foods, better baby formulas. Even a better delivery system for refrigerated products in Central America. Success!

But what is “new”? Who defines what is “better”, for whom, and at what cost? These case studies are success stories for the customers Cargill serves: corporations and neoliberal economic policies. A “new” crop of corn or a “better” egg means genetically-modified substances that can be produced more consistently at increasingly lower prices, with more controlled shelf lives. These invariably benefit first world producers, NOT consumers (and third world consumers far far less). Even supply systems that appear to benefit difficult-to-reach communities are, in fact, channels intended to create more markets and thus, ring in more sales.

As America’s second largest privately-held corporation (where descendants of its founders still own about 90% of the company; the rest is owned by employees), Cargill holds unimaginable political and economic power over the world’s population and answers to a very exclusive and very privileged few. “Cargill creates” also means Cargill destroys. Its direct involvement in the deforestation of the Amazon, enclosure of the worldwide commons, active support of free trade and neoliberalism, and lobbies for opening up markets in China, Brazil, and Cuba, MUST be watched, tracked, discussed—and challenged. Another world is possible.

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One Response to Cargill’s Brave New World

  1. tan chan says:

    I live in Connecticut, i want to know where can i get those cholesterol lowering milk.

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