Don’t teach your kids that old song O McDonald Has a Farm because the old farms with a chick, chick here and a chick, chick there don’t exist anymore. The family owned farms are gone with their variety of farm goods and animals. Now, worldwide we have giant corporate farms that go on for acres propagating the same crop for automation. There are even “corporate seeds.” It is the way of farming for the future. But what happens if the system is compromised? Do we have worldwide famine and starvation? Variety and the prospect of mom and pop farms everywhere was better in that if one failed for any reason, there was another farm in good shape a few miles down the road.
The world’s agricultural systems are being threatened by the use of the same seeds. Bananas are one of the world’s most popular fruits eaten by billions of people every day. There was a British explorer in 1829 who brought the Cavendish type of banana to Europe and increased its popularity. Now practically every banana grown around the world is this variety of banana. They do not have seeds but they have the same genetic material. A fruit without seeds became very popular. They can only grow by planting identical offshoots. So the hundreds of billions of bananas we all eat worldwide are direct clones of the Cavendish type.
Bananas are so cheap because the labor and land is corporate controlled. There is even the dancing Chiquita dancing banana girl in commercials who was born in 1944. The banana was virtually unknown to the western countries, but a massive corporate marketing effort has made it popular worldwide and available in supermarkets any time of the year. It is the cheapest fruit in the supermarket. How did they accomplish that? By military force to take land and force laborers in tropical places where the banana grows. Business has always been ruthless. The banana companies took over countries like Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Columbia.
This corporate domination led to bloodshed, genocide and the term Banana Republic which meant that the farms were not controlled by the native people and they were not being paid well for their labor. Corporate fruit companies have made these countries full of poor people. So, not only is a single crop dominating these areas, so is the same genetic material everywhere. Now generations of poor people cultivate the banana. Harry Bellefonte made famous a song called Dey- O describing the struggle of the poor plantation workers. In an average plant, 8 thousand boxes of bananas are shipped out every day 365 days of the year.
The problem with massive amounts of just one crop, disease can destroy an entire food supply quickly and that is what has been happening in many of these areas. What used to be green as far as your eye can see is now massive portions of land brown and barren. There is unusable land because of widespread disease. There is now a fungal reproduction Panama Disease running rampart that is devastating banana crops around the world. The disease can spread all over a country within 4 years and not only does it destroy a crop but makes the land diseased also. In Mindanao, Philippines the epidemic has destroyed the industry there. It used to be the second largest banana exporter in the world.
Corporate farming has created environmental disasters. These disasters can ruin our entire food supply and not just banana crops. When our crops are destroyed can chemists create new varieties of food? Buried in the artic are seed banks trying to preserve in cold climates our so fragile seeds. 50 years ago there was a larger sweeter banana that suffered from disease and the smaller less sweet banana is what we eat now. Chemists are now working on a new disease resistant banana. Corporate farming is halting the diversity of food on earth now. We must preserve that diversity of food and the diversity of farming in general. Support the Old McDonald farm and buy his products on the road side of the small farmer. It is the least we can do to preserve the world.