Cargill Inc.: Corporate Greed Threatens World Food Supply

Cargill Inc.: Corporate Greed Threatens World Food Supply

“Control the oil and you’ll control the nations; control the food and you’ll control the people.” – Henry Kissinger

Part 1 of 5: Cargill: A Threat to Food and Farming

“How does the largest privately owned company in the U.S. impact you?  Plenty.  You may not realize how much you buy at the grocery store has been imprinted by the agribusiness giant Cargill, but Cargill ingredients are everywhere in your supermarket. There isn’t any Cargill-brand food but its hidden food products are probably on your dinner table tonight.

Cargill’s dominant role in the food system can affect your nutrition, the safety of your food, and the sustainability of food production.  Here’s why Cargill matters to shoppers :

* Recalls: Cargill has recalled more than 20 million pounds of beef and poultry products tainted with E. coli and Listeria bacteria, respectively since 2000. This recalled meat has been linked to foodborne illness outbreaks, miscarriages, and several deaths.

* Unsustainable Practices: Cargill has turned a blind eye to environmental destruction and labor abuses taking place as a result of its operations around the world.

* Food Stranglehold: In 2008, high prices for the food that Cargill exported worldwide coincided with low prices for the tropical crops that Cargill purchases – benefiting Cargill – and making the ability to purchase food beyond the reach of many rural communities in developing countries.

Know who has an invisible hand in your food. Read the full report:”

Part 2 of 5: Big Food Recalls Once Again Reveal the Hidden Costs of our Big Food System

[4 August 2011]  “Cargill, the third largest turkey processor in the United States, is recalling the turkey products because of a strain of bacteria called Salmonella Heidelberg, which has sickened 76 consumers and caused one death.  The fact that Salmonella Heidelberg is antibiotic-resistant certainly reinforces the need for ending the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production.

Tracing the contamination back to its source – no easy task when you’re talking about 36 million pounds of processed food distributed to 26 states – has been the task of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in conjunction with USDA and state health agencies.  In case you’re wondering how long it takes to figure out where food contamination originated, in this case it took five months since the first reported case of food illness was reported until they linked the public health threat to Cargill’s ground turkey.

Food recalls like this one have become typical in an age of consolidation in agriculture and food – when 58 percent of the poultry market is controlled by the top four firms.  Big firms like Cargill brag about their market share in their quarterly reports, but this type of marketplace domination is putting consumers at risk and farmers out of business.  There are hidden costs to doing business this big, and one of them is public health.  And, we can only rely so much on our federal agencies to provide food safety if their budgets are being cut.  They are strained now; what will their challenges be like next year if they have less funding and more responsibility?”

Recalled products include Cargill brands plus private labels like HEB and Kroger:

Part 3 of 5: Cargill Meat Recall Heightens Fears Budgets Cuts Will Weaken Oversight, Threaten Public Health

“More than 3,000 people die a year from food poisoning in the United States, and millions more get sick.  Food safety advocates say this latest outbreak shows how budget cuts have hampered the ability of federal and state health agencies to effectively protect public health.  We speak with Patty Lovera, assistant director of the food safety group, Food & Water Watch.  ‘As Congress comes back this fall…in budget-cutting mode [where] nothing is really sacred, we need to be telling them food safety inspections…are not acceptable places to find these savings,’ Lovera says.”

Part 4 of 5: Food for Thought – Who Controls Our Food?

3 Companies Control 90% of the Beef Industry:  Cargill, JBS Swift and Tyson.

4 Companies Control 66% of the Pork Industry:  Cargill, JBS Swift and Smithfield, Tyson.

4 Companies Control 60% of the Poultry Industry:  JBS Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue, Sanderson Farms and Tyson.

3 Companies Control 90% of the Corn Market:  Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge and Cargill.

Part 5 of 5: No Less Than 23 Cargill Employees Sat on No Less Than 20 Federal “Advisory” Committees

Department of Agriculture: 13 people on 9 committees
Department of Commerce: 5 people on 4 committees
Agency for International Development: 1 person on 2 committees
Department of Energy: 2 people on 2 committees
Department of Health and Human Services: 1 person on 1 committee
International Development Cooperation Agency: 1 person on 1 committee
National Science Foundation: 1 person on 1 committee
Department of State: 1 person on 1 committee

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