“Let them eat insects” – Food and the future of capitalism

Recently the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released a report that came up with a novel idea: convince the world population to eat insects to avert mass hunger. In reality it is already possible to feed everyone without the need to eat bugs. What stands in the way is the “market”, i.e. capitalism.

Introduction: Malthus is back

Almost two centuries ago, Malthus proposed the idea that helping the poor was a mistake: they should be left to starve, as nature cannot accommodate all of them. Even if many thinkers, Marx and Engels among them, exposed this “theory” as a fraud, it was the bourgeoisie itself that rejected it in practice, as the bosses needed more and more human labour power in the fields, battlefields, mines and factories.

For decades, the propaganda was directed towards promoting population growth because this was what capitalism needed. Improvements in healthcare, vaccinations and so on helped the population to meet capitalism’s hunger for workers. Now, in the epoch of the senile decadence of capitalism on a world scale, the situation has come full circle back to… Malthus! Propaganda has gone back to highlighting the danger of overcrowding and the need to accept everything that is required to accommodate this unpleasant fact of life. The ugliest side of this resurgence is that it often comes from self-proclaimed left intellectuals. “We must save the Earth from humankind” is the mantra. In reality this is austerity dressed up in the clothes of Green politics.

Apparently, 200 years of scientific evidence refuting Malthus are not enough. Malthusians have declared Armageddon was coming when the world reached one, then two, then three billion people. Now the UN statistics suggest that the world population will reach 9 billion by 2050. Setting aside the fact that these estimates have a very poor predictive power, this means food production will have to increase by roughly 60% in 40 years to meet the demand. Quantitatively speaking, this is quite attainable as it means an annual compound growth of slightly more than 1%.

The point is not about the number of human beings that live on the planet. What is unsustainable is the way capitalism treats the Earth and its natural resources. It is not humankind per se that is destroying the Earth, but that capitalism with its constant quest for more and more profit is making life unsustainable. This emerges from apparently disparate phenomena such as global warming, obesity, deforestation or mad cow disease. All these problems tell us that time is short. The longer capitalism survives, the greater the danger to the environment, and therefore the more urgent the task of removing this system becomes.

The data (see the table below[1]) shows that the rate of population growth is in reality constantly declining:

clip image002Click to see large table

From the standpoint of science and technology, enough food can be produced globally even now to more than feed everyone. But this is not happening and we have to look at the reasons for this. The FAO report states: “Humanity is still faced with the stark reality of chronic undernourishment affecting over 800 million people: 17 percent of the population of the developing countries, as many as 34 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and still more in some individual countries”[2].

This has nothing to do with natural laws. It is a question of the policies imposed on the peoples of the world. Many countries that have a huge proportion of their population facing famine, are forced to export massive quantities of food to pay back their debts. For instance, Gambia and Sri Lanka export about 60% of their agricultural output and yet they are net importers of cereals. In the last few decades, rising bank profits were obtained literally at the cost of human life.

Developing countries were forced not only to pay back their loan sharks in kind, but also to change their economic strategies. Instead of food self-sufficiency, they were forced to grow things like coffee or flowers for the world market. Of course, this was based on the laughable idea that the world market is a fair and free area in which to compete. The results were disastrous. Where imperialist firms could not compete via economic means, trade barriers towards poorer countries were lifted at gunpoint; where this was not the case, legal and trade barriers were used to crush newcomers. The higher productivity of western companies and the role of their henchmen (IMF, World Bank and the like) doomed “emerging” countries to starvation.

The methods adopted by the multinational corporations did not mean hunger only for the poorer countries. This is also the case in the developed world. The US is a big exporter of food and can easily feed and over-feed its population. Yet, in 2012, according to the USDA, almost 18 million households were food insecure and 7 million households had very low food security[3]. Can anyone seriously claim that US agriculture could not feed US citizens?

There is also the problem of waste. From a third to half of all food is wasted[4]. This would be more than sufficient to feed everyone on the planet. The waste is not mainly a technical question, how food is transported, etc. It is a question of prices, it is a market strategy. Just as it is an aspect of capitalism to have an army of homeless people while millions of houses are left empty, so it is in agriculture where fields are left untilled or food is destroyed in order to keep up prices, as this is what is needed to raise profits.

Putting aside the question of waste, the simple growth of productivity has been more than enough, even on a capitalist basis, to match population growth. The problem is that the way capitalism feeds humankind is less and less compatible with the environment. This is not a problem of overpopulation but of profits.

We are what we eat

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are – Brillat Savarin

As we know, since the days of the classical school of economics, wages are considered the cost of reproducing the workers as a class. The more these costs are lowered, the lower can wages be driven, thus boosting profits. Therefore, since the early days of capitalism, the bourgeoisie has conducted an endless war to cheapen and worsen the commodities needed for the workers to live. Even if the expression “low cost” had not yet been invented, the idea is nothing new. On the contrary this is the way workers have always supposed to live. Food is part of the picture. Workers living on high quality food are more expensive than workers that eat bad quality food. Food is rendered of worse quality because, in this way, it yields more profit.

The horrible consequences of the quest for profit on humankind are immense. For instance, cattle live in ever worsening conditions. This is bad for them and for us too. Animals live in less and less space. As they cannot move, they are weaker, so they are pumped with antibiotics, hormones, etc. in order for them to grow more quickly and for them to stay alive for the time required. Just as for human beings, their food must be made cheaper and cheaper. So they are even fed meal made from dead animals, including cats and dogs purchased from shelters, something totally unnatural for these grass-eating animals[5]. In the best of cases they are fed corn but because they cannot properly digest it they produce a lot more methane.

This is not a minor point: agriculture is responsible for up to half of all methane emissions and it contributes to climate change that, ironically, will further increase the dependency of some developing countries on food imports. The situation of fruit and vegetables is similar if we think of the pesticides and other components they are filled with. Moreover, in order to be able to preserve food for longer they are changed so they can be consumed for a longer time, but at the cost of being tasteless. The situation is such that the nutritional content of both fruit and meat is rapidly decreasing.

Secondly, the exploitation of the environment is unsustainable. For instance, most of the fish sold in Europe is caught in non-EU waters because overfishing has strongly depleted local fish stocks. In many other seas the situation is similar. According to the FAO, by the turn of the century, three-quarters of ocean fish stocks had been overfished, depleted or exploited up to their maximum sustainable yield. This is because the way fish are caught allows more profits to be made but destroys the ecosystem. All this is linked to the sheer size of production. Bigger vessels inflict more damage on the oceans and so on.

Thirdly there is the problem of dimensions. The search for economies of scale means that now there are concentrations of cattle comparable to a big city, with all the obvious consequences. Slaughterhouses are so big they produce a horrible stench that causes headaches and other illnesses in the entire city where they are hosted. Moreover, spills from pig waste are comparable to a huge oil spill in terms of size and damage caused. Even more seriously, more cattle mean more deforestation. During the 1990s, the world lost a forest area of 9.4 million ha per year, about three times the size of Belgium[6].

Modern conditions of food production are also very bad for the workers. We are not talking about farmers in poor countries or immigrant workers exploited in the fields of Southern Europe or the US. Inside the slaughterhouses, working conditions resemble Dante’s Inferno, with hundreds of workers packed together just like the beasts they kill one after another, with their legs half submerged in a river of blood. As the speed of cutting goes up, so do workplace accidents. As for the quality of the product, due to the speed required, animals are literally slaughtered in their own excrement. This is what people are supposed to eat.

Concentration is growing not only in terms of how cattle live. Every economic sector under capitalism faces a progressive process of concentration. They start off with a large number of small firms and end up being dominated by a handful of multinational corporations. This is true of agriculture, where millions of farmers in both poor and developed countries have been forced to migrate to the cities by the competition of these giants.

For instance, when Smithfield, the biggest US hog producer, moved into Eastern Europe, within five years the number of hog farmers in Romania had plunged by 90 percent. The ten largest agro-chemical companies control 81% of the global market; ten companies control 37% of the world seed market; ten companies control 43% of the pharmaceutical/veterinarian market and so on[7].

On the production side, four companies control half of the US pork market, over 80 percent of US beef packaging and 60 percent of the pork packing market. This is also true of the distribution chain, dominated by behemoths like Wal-Mart in the US. Any talk of the “free market” is a meaningless farce. Small farmers are forced to sell at the price dictated by the big companies.

With the development of future trading of commodities, even future prices are decided by big companies and banks to make profits. The total domination of agriculture and the economy as a whole by agro-business monopolies and big banks emerged clearly in 2008, when the world experienced bread riots in 37 poor countries. In the space of a few months the price of rice, soya and wheat doubled, with dramatic effects on poor countries where food consumes from 50 to 90% of wages. These episodes have nothing whatsoever to do with population growth or food production. They have everything to do with profit maximization by the banks and big monopolies.

Capitalist rule means concentration not only in the market share of companies. Production is more and more directed towards crops and animals that are best suited to capitalist exploitation. Regional varieties are destroyed in the process. In general, the most used crops account for a growing share of consumption. For instance, wheat accounted for 31 percent of global cereal consumption in 1997-99. Today it is even higher and it is obvious that this is a risk for humankind.

Finally, concentration means that due to the massive advertising campaigns, to the urbanization of humankind, the domination of the multinationals of the agribusiness and so on, we all eat more similarly by the day. This is always pointed out by the many “eco-friendly” intellectuals: the Asian middle classes will eat more and more meat, and this is going to destroy us all! In other terms, under capitalism, even economic growth is a threat to human life.

The fast food world

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest – Adam Smith

Progressively worse quality food is the general trend capitalism relies on. With fast food, this trend made a qualitative leap[8]. The fast food industry plays a role that can be compared to British coal during the industrial revolution: a cheap essential input used in virtually any product the country was after. Fast food is not only an important economic sector; it is a metaphor for today’s capitalism, with working poor, casual labour, and low quality goods. Many American families have a direct experience of this, not only as customers but because more than one tenth of US workers have worked at some time in the sector. It is the biggest private employer in the country and it has a well-deserved reputation for ruthless exploitation of workers and consumers.

Over the years, fast food not only conquered the streets, but the very life of US citizens. The access the industry had to schools was particularly damaging. Pupils were forced to believe that this is how they should eat, as school is supposed to educate them. The schools, in turn, could not reject sponsors due to the collapse of public funding for education. These private sponsors even prepared didactic material for the students; and we can easily imagine its content. This situation is not confined to the US. For instance, recently, McDonalds was admitted into a Rome kindergarten[9].

The “fast-foodification” of life is based on the power of scale economies, that is, food standardization. Before capitalism, every region had its own recipes. As with everything else, from language to clothes, capitalism has more and more uniformed eating habits. There were thousands of different cheeses, then hundreds, then dozens. Now, in the fast food chain, you eat literally the same thing in every part of the world. To achieve this, the industry had to radically modify food production. No more nature and culinary skills, but chemistry!

The consequences were dire as working conditions worsened, and the quality of food worsened. Nor was it good for the health of the people as the industry kept increasing the size of portions to make more profit, as the famous movie Super Size me accurately depicts.

The changing shape of the very bodies of US citizens reveals how successful the fast food industry has been. After decades of fast food domination, US workers are literally dying under their own weight. In fact, Americans are among the most obese people on the planet: two thirds are overweight, and 20% are obese. This percentage has doubled in 30 years[10] and the trend is likely to continue, with its side effects like the diabetes epidemic. Something like 300,000 US citizens a year die from causes linked to obesity. This is starting to create problems even for the Pentagon as, “A shocking 20 percent of all male recruits and 40 percent of female recruits are too heavy to enter into the military ranks”[11].

Obesity is the result of the basic trends of US capitalism of the last few decades. In particular, the reduction of real wages pushes both parents to work more hours, reducing the time adults can spend on preparing healthy meals at home, and the cut in funding for public schools has forced the latter to eliminate good quality food and to rely on fast food. A contribution to the domination of fast food also came from poverty: 50 percent of all US children will be on food stamps at some point in their childhood[12]. Needless to say, food stamps are not spent on high quality recipes.

The war was conducted by the fast food industry with every means possible. On the “scientific” side, they tried to provide a “genetic” reason for the obesity epidemic, which is ridiculous as obesity on such a scale is a recent phenomenon. Furthermore, low carbohydrate diets were demonized as they are incompatible with fast food. The irony is that we used to know what kind of food was bad for us. Since the start of modern medical science up to the 1960s, every researcher agreed on the fact that the ingredients now found in fast food make human beings fat and ill[13]. Then, just when fast food was starting to dominate the industry, scientists were pushed into changing their position, at least publicly, justifying the heavy use of cereals, sodas and whatever we find in a fast food restaurant. As in other sectors, deregulation also was used to raise profits: federal agencies were ordered to step aside and let the industry decide how to feed the world.

On the cultural side, the industry waged clever ideological propaganda campaigns promoting self-indulgence (“fat is beautiful”) targeted at the poor, who were the most affected. You don’t have to be fit and slim to be happy, that was the idea. As fast food products, rich in saturated fats and sugars, have an addictive effect similar to drugs, they were used as a mass sedative in a time of increased poverty. As parents have less and less time for their kids, they are psychologically pressured to allow children to eat whatever they want, provided it is cheap food. They were also hammered by propaganda: do not lecture children about food, just let them eat what they want. Destructive patterns of food consumption were imposed on the population with big budget advertising campaigns. In comparison, the public budget for promoting healthy eating was laughable. Advertising was particularly harmful as it was directed at children. We must also add that lobbying by this sector has no rival. As children started to get bigger, clothes sizes were increased, and the entertainment industry started to use obese rappers. Instead of helping people to be healthier, the industry adjusted the world to obesity.

The rise of this industry meant a strong increase in the trends we mentioned above: we saw the collapse in the quality of life of cattle, of the work conditions in slaughterhouses, a surge in deforestation, and obesity. This is the background to the modern food industry and agriculture that the FAO is supposed to improve.

The FAO report

As we mentioned, the FAO has released a report stating that the world should get ready to eat insects[14]. It has also created a website to promote this idea[15]. Back in 2008 it had already sponsored an international meeting to explain the potential of edible insects. The rationale seems straightforward: the world population is growing, arable land is being rapidly swallowed up by cities, oceans are increasingly overfished, and climate change is disrupting traditional farming. Hence, we have a sort of paraphrasing of the famous (probably spurious) Marie Antoinette dietary advice: “let them eat bugs”. The fact that the princess suggested eating cake shows how things have worsened over the centuries.

The report reminds us that there are more than 1,900 edible insect species on Earth, hundreds of which are already part of the diet in many countries. In fact, some two billion people eat a wide variety of insects regularly, both cooked and raw. Many of them are packed with protein, fibre, good fats, and vital minerals just like ordinary meat. “Common prejudice against eating insects is not justified from a nutritional point of view,” write the authors. Moreover, raising and harvesting insects requires much less land than raising cows, pigs and sheep. Insects convert food into protein more efficiently than livestock do, meaning they need less food to produce the same amount of edible product (as little as a tenth). They also emit considerably fewer greenhouse gases than most livestock as they are cold blooded animals and produce a lot fewer emissions. Indeed they can be used to reduce waste as this is what they eat!

Plus, gathering and farming insects can offer new forms of employment and income, especially in developing tropical countries where most of edible insects live. In fact, most of insect consumption occurs in warmer climates, since tropical insects tend to be larger, more plentiful and available all year round. This seems a progressive argument: poor farmers could be freed from the grip of the multinationals by growing bugs instead of GM foods. The idea is to create large farms of insects next to industrial installations where food is treated and transformed. The insects would be fed with leftovers turning them efficiently into animal protein[16].

The fact is that some insects are already present in Western food like in some Italian and French cheeses. There are also some restaurants serving insects in California and France, and companies selling food made from insects[17]. In China, since 1996 the authorities have approved some dozens of food products that contain ants. So far so good as far as eating bugs goes.

And yet usually, everywhere, insects are normally used as emergency food when nothing else is economically or physically available. Even where they are considered delicacies, as in Thailand, they are a tiny fraction of the overall diet. For instance in China, where larvae and pupae are commonly eaten, the wealthier people become the less they eat insects. It is a plain fact:  poorer households eat insects more often. People seem to know better than the FAO.

Secondly, if we consider what insects eat now, they could not even be considered edible food as normally food legislation prohibits the feeding of animals with waste and sewage, but this is actually what insects normally live on and what they should eat even according to the FAO report. Also, there are no available studies of how the body of the insects is able to dispose of chemical compounds, such as insecticides or whatever they can find to eat.

In the end, when the FAO advises humankind to eat insects, it is in fact stating that we are becoming poorer and should get ready to adjust what we eat to what we are becoming. The proposal demonstrates that the institutions dedicated to fighting world famine, which have existed for almost sixty years, have failed miserably. In fact, in 2006, the FAO admitted that the goal of halving the number of people who suffer from hunger by 2015 was virtually unattainable, and this before the crisis broke out. There are more people suffering from hunger now than in 1990, not due to population growth but because of the economic policies dictated to the poor countries. In other words, the proposal shows that instead of finding ways to improve the lives of poor farmers and to help the world to address the problems of food production, the FAO is saying that we are all heading for a situation where we should reach for something edible in cracks in the walls!

There is a disgusting hypocrisy behind this idea: look at these people living on bugs and larvae, they are poor but happy, uncontaminated by modernisation. This is a bad imitation of Rousseau to justify the senile decay of capitalism. We don’t need social and economic development to help these populations to raise their living standards; we must adjust ourselves to theirs. This is the FAO of today.

Do we need them? Do we have alternatives?

The most decisive argument against switching to ant eating is that we just don’t need to. First of all, demand and supply of food is growing at a similar pace. Yields on conventional crops are still going up at 1% plus, more than the population even now, where a huge proportion of agriculture is still based on backward methods. Just giving to poor farmers advanced methods could be sufficient to raise productivity for decades. Moreover, we know that some 50% of food is wasted along the way, ironically feeding those very bugs that we’re being told to eat!

Another aspect that could alone raise harvests to feed billions of new human beings is irrigation. Irrigated lands produce a lot more food. As the Earth is mainly covered by water, the problem is how to save and recycle it as agriculture is responsible for about 70 percent of all fresh water withdrawn for human use. This requires the cooperation and international planning of resources, not what we have today with diplomatic crises over water resources. In the future, it is going to be worse under capitalist conditions and we could well see wars over who has control of water resources. Human civilization started with water infrastructures some thousands of years ago and now it could collapse for the same reason. However, scarcity of water is not a fact of nature it is a question of investment and who controls it.

As all statistics show, food scarcity is a myth. It is the thirst for profit that produces the hunger of a large part of humanity. On a scientific level, we could feed not ten but twenty billion people even now. And this even without taking into account the scientific development under way.

Before we briefly mention the alternatives, it is useful to deal with what is not an alternative at all. In the last few years sales of organic and “zero food miles” food have skyrocketed as have direct deals between consumers and local farmers. These foods are better and more expensive, therefore hardly available to ordinary workers in a period of mass unemployment and low wages. From the point of view of society, they cannot and do not challenge the domination of big business over agriculture.

It is only a question of product differentiation. Just as car makers sell luxury cars and family cars, supermarkets sell organic and non-organic food. Many organic food companies have already been swallowed up by big conglomerates, ironically allowing organic food to be more easily available on the shelves. Moreover, just like the co-op companies in other sectors, the more a firm grows within a capitalist environment, the more similar it gets to the others. When an organic food producer is similar in size to the big players of its sector, it cannot be very different in terms of “business ethics”, so to speak. As for the zero food miles, the international division of labour is such that it is simply impossible to disentangle a nation from the world market. The point is which class rules the economy on a world scale. Therefore, even if we appreciate the efforts to overcome the grip of big business on food, small farming is not the solution, just as horses are not an alternative to the multinationals of the auto industry.

On the scientific side, there is plenty of promising research, some of it can at first seem science fiction but is already sellable. For instance, NASA is experimenting with printed food to feed crews on deep-space missions. Scientists are also trying to build synthetic yeast and synthetic meat has already been created[18]. The most interesting aspect of this technology is that it could avoid the slaughtering of animals with all the horrible consequences we mentioned. A technology already in use is, of course, GM [genetically modified] food.

GM food

GM foods (GMFs) are the most controversial innovation in agriculture. Big multinationals and international organizations, like the FAO, are of course strongly in favour, while left and green activists are against. The point here is not only scientific. As Marxists, we know science does not develop in a vacuum. It is essential who decides where to push science and why, and GM foods are, for now, the purest product of capitalist rule over agriculture. The use of GMFs is not “neutral” as long as they are in the hands of “Big Agra”. In fact, we cannot trust Monsanto or even the FDA that is supposed to control it. Even if big companies and their regulators were aware of the problems involving these products, they would simply hide them, as the multinationals did for so long with tobacco, asbestos and hundreds of other products.

Precisely in the agricultural sector we have had plenty of cases where the truth was hidden for decades. Take BSE (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy commonly known as mad cow disease) in cattle. The first case was discovered in 1984 but this did not stop cows from being fed animal feeds until recently. The same was true for dioxin contaminated chickens, contaminated water and so on. Each time one of these scandals breaks out, it is presented as an exceptional case and soon disappears from the newspaper headlines[19]. Anti-GMF activists are absolutely right on this point.

Secondly, GMFs enslave farmers to the multinationals as they must be bought year after year. That is why these companies are so eager to “help” poor farmers starting with seeds at cheap prices, just like a drug dealer gives out drugs in front of a school for free the first time. Farmers are now completely enslaved to the big corporations. Even the FAO, which strongly favours GMF, points out that these “products are tailored largely to the needs of large-scale farmers and industrial processing in the developed world, with the result that resource-poor farmers in developing countries will fail to benefit”. The FAO also underlines the fact that market concentration and monopoly power in the seed industry reduces choice and control for farmers, who will pay ever higher prices for seed: “One company alone controls over 80 percent of the market for GM cotton and 33 percent for GM soybean”[20]. No one can use these seeds if they do not pay for them because they have been patented!

The way international and national authorities have granted patents on foods and even genes has been a monstrous perversion of things. Since the infamous case of Diamond v Chakrabarty [21], the US authorities have decided that even a living organism can be privately owned, hence big agribusiness corporations have frenetically patented seeds. The consequences have been disastrous. Biodiversity has collapsed, as any corporation has a direct interest in selling its own seeds. And if we consider that there is a high risk that modified genes could spread to wild populations, biodiversity could be reduced even further. This is an interesting point: biodiversity, an essential feature of nature, is incompatible with capitalism. All in all, as long as GMFs are not studied under conditions of workers’ control over the whole economy, they are part of the problem, not of the solution.

On the other hand, it would be very naïve to believe that countries that fights against GMFs do this because they are somehow eco-friendly. What we are dealing with here in reality is a trade war. GMF technologies are mainly US owned. Their use is very limited geographically. Just four countries account for 99 percent of the global GM crop areas. The US alone has 69% of world GM productions. That is why the EU is against GM food: European companies cannot compete in terms of both patents and disposable land. European capitalists are not less inclined to sell the health of their population for a profit. The question is they cannot win this particular battle. So they change the rules of the game. Mad cow disease is just one example of their true attitudes. European agriculture is less concentrated and more quality-oriented. See for instance the proportion of land treated with organic methods[22]:

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We cannot trust the big US corporations, but neither can we trust their smaller European competitors. The problem is not how secure GMFs are; the question is humankind cannot be safe as long as the Big Agra corporations decide how to feed us to maximize its profits.

Workers’ control for healthy food

To change the way food is produced and distributed we must change the way society is organized as a whole. We welcome movements of peasants and workers, in the advanced as well developing countries, to counter the rule of Big Agra. However, mere resistance is not enough. Nor do we think that every technological advance is per se a plot against humankind as we are also aware of the fact that exploitation and misery go hand-in-hand with traditional farming methods also. Capitalism is depleting human life and our environment. Half-solutions, like organic food, will not do.

Science can contribute to feeding humankind. The question, however, is who rules over the economy and scientific research. The existence of multinational companies in the food industry has objectively prepared the way for a rational and harmonious management of the planet’s resources on a global scale. The technology we already have, or we are going to discover, open up endless possibilities. It is clear it would be entirely possible to solve the problem of hunger in the world, providing everyone with enough food and changing the diet of the population, now doomed to many diseases.

However, as long as technology and science are in the hands of privately owned multinational corporations, they will be used to increase profits, regardless of the health and the very lives of billions of people. They don’t care about us, and they are not concerned by the effects of all the chemicals and genetic engineering that have entered the food chain.

Without workers’ control, technology in itself will not solve the problem. We must nationalize not only the agro-chemical companies but also the distribution network, the supermarkets and so on. The profit motive must be replaced by the well-being of workers when it comes to food, as in all aspects of basic economic needs. Public ownership and democratic planning is the only solution to feed the billions of humans on Earth in an ecologically sustainable manner.

Already back in 1986 the World Bank in one of its policy studies (February 1986) stated the following:

“The world has ample food. The growth of global food production has been faster than the unprecedented population growth of the past forty years… yet many poor countries and hundreds of millions of poor people do not share in this abundance. They suffer from a lack of food security, cause mainly by a lack of purchasing power.”

That is capitalism for you and it hasn’t changed much since then. Suggesting that we eat insects is a way of saying that humankind must bow to capitalist rule for ever. We don’t need to eat bugs to avoid starvation. We need to remove capitalism to avoid living like bugs.



[1] FAO, World agriculture: towards 2015/2030. Summary Report, 2002, p. 9. (http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/esag/docs/y3557e.pdf).

[2] Cit., p. iv.

[8] For an introduction see E. Schlosser Fast Food Nation, 2001, and G. Critser, Fat Land, 2003.

[13] See, for instance, G. Taubes, Why we get fat, 2011.

[14] “Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security” (http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3253e/i3253e.pdf).

[17] There is also a French website with insect food recipe (http://www.comby.org/insect/recettfr.htm).

[20] FAO, cit., p. 51.

[22] FAO, cit., p. 55.