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Stolen Harvest
The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply
by Jean Grossholtz
SOURCE: Book Review POSTED: 05/10/05 15:39:40 CDT

"STOLEN HARVEST: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply" is a call to arms for all the folks in the world who believe in nature, in the sanctity of all beings, in control over what one eats and feeds one's children, a call to arms for all who think that life, as we have known it, is worth preserving.

Shiva, an Indian physicist and leader in the International Forum on Globalization along with Ralph Nader and Jeremy Rifkin, is winner of the 1993 Right Livelihood Award. Hers was a strong voice for the environment during the months leading up to Seattle and A16.

Shiva chronicles the consequences of the whole process of economic change called by various names: "the new world order", "the global economy", and -- by those of us in the trenches --"globalization".

The new economic order created by a series of trade treaties requires the privatization and deregulation of the national economies of member states. This means that the sorely won regulations progressive groups have fought for on food safety and environmental pollution are removed.

Public sector enterprises -- like water, healthcare, our natural resources -- which have protected our basic needs from private exploitation must now be sold to private bidders, regardless of their nationality.

We have already seen in this country the results of turning health care over to private entrepreneurs. Other disasters are soon to follow.

The global rules on agriculture imposed by the World Trade Organization deny the idea of self-sufficiency in food that has always been a mainstay of any nation. Instead, it is assumed that countries will concentrate on exports and buy their food on the international market.

But the cost of food on the international market (particularly with subsidized agriculture in the northern countries) undercuts what poor countries must charge for their products. The main result has been the elimination of small farmers and peasant agriculture to make way for commercial export crops. Hundreds of thousands of displaced peasant women have migrated to the cities where they become cheap labor for transnational manufacturing enterprises.

The transnational corporations benefit three ways:
1) local food is driven from the market
2) cheap land becomes available for commercial crops
3) the low paid labor of displaced people enhances the profits of foreign capital

The result is loss of local control over food and the placing of control of the economy in the hands of transnational corporations. As a result of this process, just five corporations control the global trade in grain. Ten corporations control 32% of the commercial seed market (including 100% of the genetically modified seed).

This process is not without impact on the United States' food supply as well. It becomes increasingly difficult and very expensive to eat natural, nutritious food. Small farms have all but disappeared, and pesticides, herbicides, and commercial fertilizers are polluting our bodies, our water, and our atmosphere.

Vandana Shiva's book documents well what is happening in India and it is not hard to see the impact on the rest of the world. The story of the Stolen Harvest is the story of the transfer of all beings and their actions and environments into fodder for the global market.

---Jean Grossholtz teaches in the Women's Studies Department at Mount Hoyoke College, South Hadley, MA.

For an April 16, 2000 interview with Sheri Herndon (, go to

REVIEWED BY: Rick Rohe  

From an innocent point of view, the spirit behind globalization is apparently laudable. It seems to be along the lines of "we are all one", joining us all in "one world family". But that's not the motivation for globalization, and one world family is not what is resulting.

The motivation for globalization does not come from the people, but from the dominant corporations of the world and their willing accomplices, the governments of the "developed" nations. Their agenda is world domination and it is already clear what kind of "one world" would result from their complete success. It would be a new form of fascism, pure and simple, in which freedom, health, and prosperity would be an impossible dream. The billions of us peons could watch the oligarchs and their few favored few live lavish lives on our ransacked, ravaged planet. It wouldn't be entertaining at all.


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