When A Very Profitable Business Model Doesn’t Make A Lick of Sense: Big Food

Robyn O’brien speaks at a TED event in Austin, Texas in 2011 regarding the food industry’s introduction of foreign proteins into food products to boost production and profits, and the appearance of an upward trend in food allergies concurrent with the food modifications. As a former financial and food analyst Ms. O’brien understands that from a profit standpoint, the modifications make perfect sense. The problem with this business model, however, is the modifications are untested, and a consequence of “proving harm” rather than “proving safety” is to shift the burden of proof onto those least able to provide proof. Instead of proving the profits being made are from a safe product, the industry capitalizes on patented modifications that most industrialized nations consider patently unsafe. And while those nations of the world that monitor and regulate their food supplies have rejected these modifications because of unproven safety, we in the US are made to accept these modifications on the basis that they haven’t been proven harmful; this is “proving harm” or “proving safety.” On whom does the risk and cost lie in this arrangement? And who reaps the benefits?

Our situation today is also that modified proteins are in products not labeled as containing such modifications – untested foreign proteins from modified genes in unlabeled foods such as milk and corn – coupled with a stark correlation of rising cancer rates, food allergies, the cost of health care in general in the US and the introduction of modifications that increased profitability in every step of the food production chain. To add insult to injury, the organic farming community, producers that don’t use these clever modifications, is overburdened with regulation and labeling requirements that put the organic food industry at a disadvantage, driving up costs for those seeking real, unmodified food.

This is an 18 minute clip that succinctly describes a business model that pays extremely well, keeps the competition at bay through preferential public policy benefits, and operates at the taxpayer’s expense with subsidies and tax considerations. Big Agriculture’s version of Profits over People.


About sdemetri
Portland, Maine freelance photographer, writer, activist

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