This article is part of an ongoing series from the Post-Truth Initiative, a Strategic Research Excellence Initiative at the University of Sydney. The series examines today’s post-truth problem in public discourse: the thriving economy of lies, bullshit and propaganda that threatens rational discourse and policy.
The project brings together scholars of media and communications, government and international relations, physics, philosophy, linguistics, and medicine, and is affiliated with the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre (SSSHARC), the Sydney Environment Institute and the Sydney Democracy Network.
The global food system has been operating in post-truth mode for decades. Having constructed food scarcity as a justification for a second Green Revolution, Big Agriculture now employs its unethical marketing tactics to selling farmers “climate-smart” agriculture in the form of soils, seeds and chemicals.
The cover of Monsanto’s 2016 annual report, A Limitless Perspective, presents a vista of galaxies worthy of a George Lucas production. The brightest star is an A$88 billion merger with German chemical company Bayer, to be finalised this year.
Critics have described this as a “marriage made in hell”. They fear the new mega-corporation will impose even more pesticides and genetically modified seeds on the world’s farmers.
The myth of scarcity
Framing market opportunities as moral imperatives, the agribusiness narrative is to “feed the world”. That’s while making exorbitant profits at the expense of small-scale farmers and consumer health.
The rhetoric of scarcity is hollow; excess production is the problem. The food industry is a major contributor to overproduction, food insecurity and environmental degradation.