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14 August 2009

Jack Tomas at Guanabee manages to put the latest in agro-imperialism into simple, readable terms:

A sugar shortage is imminent according several giant food conglomerates. They appealed to agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack to ease trade restrictions on sugar producing countries. The companies including Kraft Foods, General Mills, and Hershey,Co. say they will no longer have sugar to make their cookies and other taste treats (no twinkies!) The real problem comes from America’s huge farm subsidies to corn manufacturers and their strategy to make sugar importation from Latin America cost prohibitive for producers. Our government is literally taking away our cookies.

Sugar has always been the life blood of Latin America. The Spanish and Portuguese created huge sugar plantations in Cuba, Brazil, Central America and elsewhere to supply Europe’s sweet tooth. Sugar conglomerates grew to control vast swaths of land producing millions of tons of sugar. Many of these companies were owned by Americans who ran the sugar plantations as virtual fiefdoms with serfs working the land for little pay. Then in the 1960’s and 70’s Latin American countries began to take over their countries’ sugar production. The price of sugar rose dramatically making it difficult for U.S. companies to keep up. So, the government created the farm subsidies for corn production in which they artificially inflated the price of corn so farmers would produce increasing amounts of it without losing money. They turned this corn into corn syrup which is in nearly every product we eat. These corn subsidies hurt Latin America because it robs them of the huge American market for their sugar. This is also the reason that the United States has imposed such heavy tariffs on sugar importation. The other reason for the U.S. policy towards Latin American sugar is that they want to control the production of ethanol which can be made from sugar or corn. If Latin American sugar production became too profitable then they would have no need for our oil or ethanol.

What we do know is that we Americans are getting fatter eating all this processed corn crap. Why does Mexican Coke taste so much better than Yanqui Coke: Azucar!

State expropriation of the sugar mills goes back to the 1930s, with Lazaro Cardenas’ take-over of the mills in Michoacan. Nationalization followed during Cardenas’ tenure at Los Pinos, which allowed small-time sugar growers to stay in business up until the de-nationalization craze of the 90s. Several of the “privatized” mills went belly-up and appealed to the federal government to be taken over. Under the Fox Administration, corn sweetener was allowed to enter the country, forcing small operators out of business and a drop in sugar prices. With renewed interest in ethanol, Mexican sugar would be a better option for this country than corn ethanol, but… that would not benefit Cargill, Archer-Daniels-Midland, and friends. Unless, of course, those small farmers are forced out of business, and larger companies buy up the sugar cane fields. Which they will.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    14 August 2009 8:06 pm

    Honduras coca cola uses real sugar, too! Have you read The Omnivore’s Dilemna; the corn syrup “conspiracy” is revealed, as is so much more.

  2. Hugo permalink
    15 August 2009 3:43 am

    While living in Tepic I had a cup of coffee in a Burger King at a small mall located next to a huge cane sugar mill. The sugar that came with my coffee was imported from the US.

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