The Birth of the Big American Meat Industry

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17, 2009 by alejandracuellar

Due to the large grazing areas of these regions, the United States, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand the countries were suitable for the development of ranching. Beef exports before the turn of the century were limited by transportation underdevelopment, until new methods of shipping equipped with cooling devices appeared during the second half of the nineteenth century. This created a new possibility for trade for the key beef producing countries. The United States’ emphasis on agrarianism during this time is attributed to the historical success of national economic development, thus influencing the structure of political institutions and the substance. The rising population of the United States during this time fueled the industry’s growth to satisfy the growing local demand.

Toward the end of the first food regime, the federal legislation created the land grant university system and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in order to improve productivity through applying scientific and technical skills to farming. During this time of nationalist economic development, the United States employed substantial barriers to free trade, allowing cattle raising and beefpacking to provide the rapidly growing demand and the working class. After the Second World War the expansion of these new agricultural technologies led to an increase in production and in tradability of beef through improved transportation methods, without having any substantial increase in international trade. Instead, internal specialization continued to evolve as large-scale mechanization and agrotechnology contributed to rapid increases in cereal yields.

This was a turning point in beef production, as livestock became a key consumer of these grain surpluses. It led to the emergence of the modern-day feedlot system, which serves as a deposit for the surplus of corn and soybeans as feed for cattle. In the feedlot system all animals began eating grains for the first time, speeding up their natural growth cycles, and the production of beef.

The surge in Meat consumption in developing countries: Two views

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17, 2009 by alejandracuellar

In this section, the examination of market forces in developing countries will shed some light on the recent phenomenon of an increase in beef consumption in Asian countries. Beef has not been a traditional part of the diet in the Asian countries as much as pork and sea products has generally been. Thinking about the rise of meat consumption in growing Asian countries only as a consequence of an increase in wealth is overly simplistic. The market point of view presents a linear explanation that blames unsustainable consumption solely on income increases, widening consumer choice, falling retail prices, and taste preference in an growing global marketplace. The motor behind this view is the consumer who is swayed by his or her preference of products and is limited by income and the choices he or she encounters in the market. The government and international organizations work towards keeping an open yet competitive market. Producer interests are implicitly seen as adapting themselves to market preferences so the consumer has the upper hand in the control of the market in this view.

The political economic perspective articulated by scholars such as Sjur Kasa, state that the role of producers has a greater influence over consumer behavior and that market liberalization efforts are often influenced by producers’ interests. This view focuses on how the emergence of new markets benefits powerful nations and well-organized producer groups. A more complete understanding of the surge in meat consumption and imports in Asia challenges the notion that the increase comes from higher incomes in the middle class alone. Given the trends in this particular consumption, it is important to look at the model of the American meat industry and how it emerged in order to better understand the Asian phenomenon.

Meat–A special of the Worldpresses

Posted in Environmental Concerns, Freaky Food, World Food on December 17, 2009 by alejandracuellar

Since the 1950’s global meat production has been on an increase. Production has risen from 44 million tons in 1950 to 253 million tons worldwide today. In 2003, the average person consumed 41 kilograms of meat, double the number of half a century ago.[1] The industrialization of meat production has permitted for a product that was once a considered a luxury for a majority of the population to become a daily commodity for many. In this essay the trends of the rise in meat consumption in developing Asian countries will be examined in light of recent concerns focused in that area. The rapid furthering of industrialization taking place in China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan has led to the urbanization that analysts argue leads to a rise in income and meat consumption.  The fear of growing meat consumption in industrializing countries is directed not just at growing consumption, but also and arguably more importantly, at the reproduction of Western and specifically American meat production methods.

The following posts will be an investigation of this phenomenon and my attempt to formulate solutions from a structuralist perspective.

[1] Lester R. Brown. Outgrowing the Earth: Food Security Challenge in an Age of Falling Water Tables and Rising Temperatures. UK 2005 Bath Press Ltd, Bath

The Future of Functional Food

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17, 2009 by alejandracuellar


Posted in Uncategorized on December 12, 2009 by alejandracuellar


GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and international levels, and fostering new forms of cooperation and alliance-building. Most of our work is oriented towards, and carried out in, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

GRAIN’s work goes back to the early 1980s, when a number of activists around the world started drawing attention to the dramatic loss of genetic diversity on our farms — the very cornerstone of the world’s food supply. We began doing research, advocacy and lobbying work under the auspices of a coalition of mostly European development organisations. That work soon expanded into a larger programme and network that needed its own footing. In 1990, Genetic Resources Action International, or GRAIN for short, was legally established as an independent non-profit foundation with its headquarters in Barcelona, Spain.

By the mid-1990s, GRAIN reached an important turning point. We realised that we needed to connect more with the real alternatives that were being developed on the ground, in the South. Around the world, and at local level, many groups had begun rescuing local seeds and traditional knowledge and building and defending sustainable biodiversity-based food systems under the control of local communities, while turning their backs on the laboratory developed ‘solutions’ that had only got farmers into deeper trouble. In a radical organisational shift, GRAIN embarked on a decentralisation process that brought us into closer contact with realities on the ground in the South, and into direct collaboration with partners working at that level. At the same time, we brought a number of those partners into our governing body and started regionalising our staff pool.

By the turn of the century, GRAIN had transformed itself from a mostly Europe-based information and lobbying group into a dynamic and truly international collective — functioning as a coherent organisation — that was linking and connecting with local realities in the South as well as developments at the global level. In that process, GRAIN’s agenda shifted away from lobbying and advocacy much more towards directly supporting and collaborating with social movements, while retaining our key strength in independent research and analysis.

GRAIN is an organisation that represents no one but itself. However, it is through collaboration and partnerships that we link in with local and national realities and play a meaningful role in our information, research, advocacy and networking activities, be it in the regions or at international level. In fact, we work with many groups in different parts of the world to produce and disseminate collaborative publications and analyses, and engage in other collaborative projects.



Posted in Environmental Concerns, World Food on December 11, 2009 by alejandracuellar

In the following posts I will be writing about the debate about GMO’s that currently holds a crucial place in international politics. Although the technology is well underway, has been in place for over thirty years and continues to grow there is strong opposition coming from many sides. Europe for example, has been a strong opponent of American genetically engineered foods. Their fear comes from the difference in regulation imposed by the USDA within the food production itself and Europe. In essence, Europe fears the technology more than the United States. It is important to note that it is not the people who fear, but rather the institutions who import, although the people do fear as well; it is the political leverage of that fear that matters more in Europe than it does in the United States. The question I will be asking is, what is there to fear in the prospect of having genetically modified organisms enter into agriculture world wide?

Here is one view on the matter.

GMO’s are and have been the reason that the planet can support the 6.2 billion people it does today. Had it not been for the Green Revolution, the Malthusian Curve would have come at last and starvation would have been (even more) rampant. The fact that we can produce more food per acre using the same, if not less land is the miracle of the 20th century. Now that we face the prospect of even more overpopulation (with population estimated to grow to 9.1 billion in 2025) and the urgency to feed the planet, GMO’s are the solution to the problem of food productivity. If we can make plants that are resistant to harsh weather, perhaps even salt so that plants could be watered with sea salt, chemicals and pests, why should we even question the imperative of the technology for genetically modifying foods?

Here is another view on the matter:

The problems that have taken place in the most GMO intensive areas (i.e the U.S mostly) will be reproduced in all other areas of the world and particularly in developing countries where many farmers are already living under situations of dependency. One of the specific and most contested traits in GMO seeds is the dependency they create. When you buy a seed from a company that owns the technology with a patent, Monsanto for example, you are forced to return to them to buy more because you cannot save the seed. Because genetically manipulated seeds have been modified to resist X or Y, the second harvest will not necessarily yield the same kind of plants. The second argument against GMOs has to do with the possibility of losing unique strands of plans that act as possible deterrents to disease. If all plants have the same genetic combination and a pathogen attacks them, the chance of it wiping out an entire population is more likely.

What do you think?

If this doesn’t scare you- I don’t know what will

Posted in Uncategorized on November 28, 2009 by alejandracuellar

Is it possibly, the new Adam and Eve of the 21st century?