Blood Corn | Teen Ink

Blood Corn

April 11, 2009
By Anonymous

Although in the context of Africa the term blood is most infamously associated with the diamond trade, the corn trade between the United States and much of Sub-Saharan Africa undeniably causes more sheer carnage-a fact that is little known by many Americans. The United States has covertly adopted an international food policy that has robbed at least forty-five countries of their chances at independence from the chains of America’s façade of benevolence. Not only has the United States crippled the infrastructure of numerous countries, but it has done so “philanthropically”. This heinous violation of human rights can longer persist unnoticed.

There is no doubt that Africa has suffered from past colonization, but why then, does this condition continue? The answer is simple; economic dominance has replaced conventional colonization. Even though there is no doubt that Africa requires international attention, current modes of aid are only disguised control. Just as King Leopold claimed generosity when establishing supremacy over the Congo, the United States has propagated the power of its corn industry through the subterfuge of food aid. More specifically, whenever the United States gives or subsidizes food, most significantly corn, it undercuts local farmers driving them out of jobs and further into poverty. This callous cycle increases the US share of that particular market and disseminates the institution of dependency that prevents self sufficiency and creates vulnerability.

The stratagem of food aid further asserts its control by allowing the United States to control the governments of these afflicted countries. Destroying the shield of sovereignty, The United States stakes claim on other countries’ natural resources. The most lucid example of this process is seen in Nigeria. Nigeria is controlled by a military dictatorship that subsists on management of food supplies in a way that is villainously similar to that of Sudan. The lack of internal food production in Nigeria creates a reliance on various other governments who rapturously try to take advantage of this precarious situation by creating oil agreements. Although the United States claims that by imposing its coercive power it is creating a mutual beneficial relationship with Nigeria that creates jobs and alleviates poverty, the torment inducing industry of oil collapses any modicum of hope for future prosperity.

Even though the institution of food aid is brutal and unforgiving, it does benefit its designer. In fact, it would be impossible to maintain the US corn industry without these large government subsidies (that are later used to buy corn and give it away as food aid) because production costs far exceed the current market price of corn. Therefore, the façade of food aid is extremely beneficial as long it progresses unnoticed, but multilateral agencies are finally beginning to perceive this devious trick. Organizations such as the World Trade Organization have recently begun to endeavor to persuade the United States to change its course of action, but the lack of enforcement powers delegated to the WTO has prevented any substantial reprimand. The hegemony of the United States and prospective hypocrisy of other countries prevents the mitigation of this dependency crisis. Therefore the only possible change must come from within.

Especially in recent economic times, it will be difficult to provoke Americans to forsake American jobs to assuage a pressing moral dilemma. This is because it is arduous to comprehend the sufferings of others in a foreign context without considering the possible detriment oneself, but it is crucial to understand that this situation is not so unknown. There are a profusion of parallels between foreign food aid and the national tobacco industry. Both of these industries profit off of the anguish of others and subvert morals in order to justify their actions. Also, if both industries vanished, herds of farmers would lose their occupations. The chief difference between the two is that the tobacco industry faces a surfeit of domestic antagonism. This enmity arises from the affliction of those we know and care about. Almost every American understands the poignancy of losing a relative to tobacco induced lung cancer, but the lack of direct empathetic connections between Americans and those who hunger in Africa prevent the US from taking action.

This change, a seemingly simple switch of policies, must originate from human sympathy and understanding of mutual respect that is owed to all people upon their entrance into this world. If we let concepts like white guilt dominate change discourse then we only propagate dependency through the implied assertion that we are superior to others and must use our superiority righteously. Instead, we must recognize that economic incentives have created a depravity that allows us to believe that the misery of one human is different than that of another and more importantly, we must reject this temptation, opting to ethical standards in place of economic absolutism.

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