Ingrid de Sain is a Dutch farmer who lives in the Northern Holland town of Schellinkhout, where she and her family tend to a 62 acre farm with about 100 dairy cows. Like thousands of fellow citizens in her industry, she now finds herself locked in an existential conflict with her government.
“Farming is in your heart,” de Sain told The Grayzone. “And you don’t want to do something else. You’re a farmer or you’re not.” She says she will oppose any efforts requiring her to give up a farm that guarantees prosperity for future generations of her family.
The Dutch government announced plans to slash nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions in June 2022, enforcing an ambitious agenda in the name of protecting the climate. The imposed reductions could spell devastating consequences for the country’s farming industry and add enormous stress to already chaotic global food supply chains.
Today, the Netherlands is Europe’s top exporter of meat and the second largest agricultural exporter overall in the world, right behind the US. The tiny nation’s agricultural success is the product of its traditional dependence on generously sized farms that use nitrogen-rich fertilizer to produce heavy yields. Such methods were encouraged by the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, which prioritized the growth of cattle lots, incentivized the use of chemical fertilizers, and pushed many smaller family farmers out of operation.
In 2019, a Dutch court order declared that nitrogen-compound fertilizer was a top threat to the climate and biodiversity, and mandated a 70-80% decrease in its use. If implemented in the country, the proposed reductions could destroy a full third of its farming output and eliminate somewhere between 30 and 50% of Dutch livestock. The stage was set for open conflict.
Once the pro-EU coalition government of Dutch PM Mark Rutte took steps to implement the restrictions in June 2022, local farmers responded immediately with ferocious mass protests that have blocked roads, airports, and grocery distribution centers. Since the outbreak of demonstrations, supermarkets shelves have gone empty as the farmers’ cry of “No farms, no food” reverberated nationwide.
The farmers were not only angry with the sweeping emissions mandates, but with the less-than-democratic process through which the policy was handed down. They insist they support efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and complain that bureaucrats have ignored an alternative proposal by the main farmer’s lobby, the Netherlands Agricultural and Horticultural Association, known as the LTO, to reduce nitrogen-oxide output by 40% over the next decade.
Firemen and fishermen are now joining the farmers’ protests, forcing ferry services to shut down. When farmers blockaded streets and highways with their tractors, tow truck drivers showed solidarity by refusing orders to remove them. In a flagrant show of contempt for the ruling establishment, farmers have even dumped manure on government buildings.
State repression of the protests has similarly intensified. Dutch police shot a 16 year old farmer during one demonstration and opened fire on a tractor at another. When not deploying live fire, Dutch security forces have promiscuously teargassed demonstrators, unleashed dogs on crowds, and pummeled demonstrators with truncheons.
A first round of negotiations between the farmers and the government took place on August 5, but the session disappointed farmers’ lobby group, the LTO. According to LTO chairman Sjaak van der Tak, the government in Amsterdam offered “too little” concessions to the farmers during those talks.
As long as the government refuses to budge from its sweeping goals, the crisis shows little sign of abetting. For those facing the loss of family farms and the traditions they represent, there is little to lose by taking to the streets.
But there is more at stake than just the future of agriculture within one nation. When thousands of protestors stormed Sri Lanka’s presidential palace in July and forced the resignation of their leader, the event seemed unrelated to the popular uprising sweeping the Netherlands. Yet as we will see, Sri Lanka’s revolt was partly a response to the same force that sparked the Dutch farmers protests: a corporatized “sustainability” agenda crafted by a billionaire-backed “green” elite with no popular constituency.
From their position within institutions such as the World Economic Forum, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and a bevy of transnational corporations considered “stakeholders” in this closely-knit network, unelected figures have influenced government policy in supposedly sovereign states across the globe.
While these organizations claim to act in the interest of the planet, they are almost entirely unaccountable to the popular masses who will be most severely impacted by their planned “reset” of the international food system. Having already upended the global supply chains and informal industries that once sustained the developing world with their internationally-prescribed response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the next item on their agenda threatens to exacerbate the economic pain of working people from Amsterdam to Colombo and beyond.
Ingrid De Sain, a Dutch farmer, has seen the protest movement she participates in gather support from the Dutch public. Though she recognizes less enthusiasm for the demonstrations among the metropolitan middle class, she takes heart in the multitude of citizens who have adorned their homes and vehicles with upside-down Dutch flags to show support for the farmers.
“Everyone in Holland has his flag outside, upside down,” de Sain explained. “So everyone [on the outside] can see that things are not good in Holland and that we need help.”
The farmers boast the support of 77 percent of Dutch citizens, according to a national poll taken this June. However, the Dutch broadcaster BNR reported that most respondents expressed displeasure with more extreme tactics like felling trees and protesting outside government officials’ homes.
Meanwhile, public support for the farmers’ protests has translated into growing enthusiasm for the farmer’s party, Boer Burger Beweging (BBB). A poll this June indicated that BBB, which currently only holds one seat in parliament, would have gained 18 in an election at the time. (A rumored new party by independent Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt, a popular Euroskeptic and top opponent of Rutte, could slow the BBB’s momentum.)
In another sign of public support for the farmers, police officers assigned to repress the strikers eagerly participated in a farmer blockade-turned BBQ, even handing out cookies.
Like Canadian Freedom Trucker convoy that protested vaccine mandates, the Dutch farmers have invited a mix of leftist indifference and scorn, while high-profile right-wing politicians celebrated the protests as a point of nationalist unity. The Farmers Defense Force – the most militant faction of the movement – has welcomed the right-wing support. For their part, the farmers hold views spanning the political spectrum.
And while a wealthy local family has reportedly injected resources into the protests to protect its cattle feed business, the farmers on the front lines insist they are fighting merely to preserve their livelihoods against powerful interests often based outside Dutch borders.
Like many of her fellow farmers in the Netherlands, Ingrid de Sain sees hypocrisy in her government’s attack on the agricultural sector.
“They know about [the emissions impacts of] planes and industry, yet they only look at the farms” when it comes to new emissions restrictions, says de Sain. She also emphasizes that the targets Amsterdam proposed are simply impossible to reach, and won’t be met “even if all the farmers go away.”
Dutch Farmers Union Spokesman Erik Luiten echoed de Sain when he told GBN News, “Farmers are not convinced emissions cuts will help nature.”
De Sain believes an ulterior motive lies behind the government’s contradictory policy: it wants the farmers’ land to address the country’s severe housing shortage, as the government needs to build 845,000 homes by 2030 to meet expected population needs. There are “17 million people in Holland. They say that we will have in 2040, 30 million people in Holland. So then, the farmers are in their way [of building] houses and industry,” de Sain stated.
The Netherlands’ housing shortage is severe indeed, and Dutch farmers own a significant portion of the country’s land, with about 54 percent as of 2018. Yet these figures do not fully explain the government’s move towards expropriation.
Further, the Dutch government’s stringent regulation of nitrogen emissions has driven housing shortages by forcing residential construction projects to meet difficult environmental standards before building, even shelving 18,000 prospective housing developments in 2019 as nitrogen mitigation expectations tightened. Buying out farmers, therefore, would not necessarily alleviate the housing shortage even if it did free up land.
And as the Irish Farmers Journal illustrated, the land the Dutch government obtains from farmers through buyouts may instead be transformed into nature reserves where building is forbidden.
Suspicions are growing among Dutch farmers that their land could be used for something more novel. A 2021 DutchNews.nl report about the now-proposed cuts stated that farmlands bought out by the government would then be used for “sustainable agriculture” – apparent code for lab-grown meats and other scientifically confected foods.
Rudy Buis, a spokesperson for the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality, emphasized to The Grayzone that the buy-outs of farmland would be voluntary “for now,” but stated explicitly that “replacing farmers” was an ultimate objective.
Buis explained that plans for land acquired were up in the air, but that a combination of uses, including nature reserves, housing, and sustainable farming, were all under consideration.
“If the government has the [farmers’] ground it can be used for an extra nature area, or maybe a project for energy, or building houses,” said Buis, who insisted 25 billion euros allotted by the government for the buyout scheme would also establish and normalize sustainable farming practices and reduce the country’s nitrogen emissions via “green investments in innovation.”
“The money is going to buyout voluntary farmers,” the spokesperson explained. “Also for innovation for agriculture, for replacing farmers to make [the farming sector] a more natural way, a more sustainable way.”
When asked what “sustainability” would look like in practice, Buis described the government’s vision as follows: “A farmer… often has 200 or 300 cows, and it’s our ambition to have the farmer making enough money for himself and his family with, well, shall I say, 60 or 70 cows. What that means: we have to pay more for biological food. That means we have to help [farmers] and give them money for sustainable agriculture. So, that’s a process [involving] a lot of parties and organizations and the government. We are working on it now.”
Before agreeing to speak to The Grayzone, the government spokesman Buis demanded to know, “Is this for an alt-right medium or not?”
Regardless of how the Dutch government plans to use the farmland, fears are growing that as one of the world’s largest food exporters, and Europe’s largest meat exporter, such a sudden reduction of the country’s agricultural output could wreak havoc on food supply chains at a time of global economic crisis.
The Hague’s policy has left many local farmers suspicious that elite ideology has trumped more prosaic concerns like the social welfare of Dutch citizens.
The Dutch farmers’ protest has erupted at the juncture of a global resource crisis and an environmental movement increasingly fueled by the passions – and payments – of the “Davos man.”
Leveraging their influence over elite foundations, multilateral institutions and NGOs, the world’s most powerful financiers have proposed a series of top-down transformations of the global food system that will consolidate and centralize their power, limit agricultural independence, and override millennia of traditional farming practices, all in the name of “sustainability” and protecting the climate.
The Dutch government’s emissions proposals are a perfect example of the trend. While proposed in The Hague, the proposal to cut nitrogen was actually mandated by Brussels, where European bureaucrats largely unknown to the general public declared the farmers’ emissions levels a violation of EU law.
Along with the EU, a web of foreign governments, international governing bodies and global capitalist policy hubs such as the World Economic Forum, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, have lobbied to define the concept of “sustainability” on their own terms.
The perspective put forward by these billionaire-backed outfits is increasingly advanced by global institutions upholding an almost obsessive focus on an impending climate disaster that can only be averted through a radical transformation of industrial society’s processes.
The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, declared climate change the world’s “single biggest health threat” in 2021. Meanwhile, the United Nations opened an entire webpage dedicated to the #NetZero movement, which “calls for nothing less than a complete transformation of how we produce, consume, and move about” to prevent climate change. The UN’s 2021 World Economic Forum report called, “Aligning to net zero: How CEOs can get on board with the transition,” declared that “Net zero means collectively cutting net CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030 and getting to zero by 2050.”
By declaring that meat must be substantially reduced in human diets, these proposals placed farmers squarely in the crosshairs. In 2018, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), for example, tweeted that reducing meat consumption by 50 percent by 2050 “will lead to a healthier life and a healthier planet.”
The plan to transform food systems and communities has been infused with massive loads of cash. The World Bank’s 2021-2025 Climate Change Action Plan, for example, dictates that 35 percent of the bank’s financing during the program years will go towards investing in clients and stakeholders, particularly in developing countries, and to support “catalyzing and mobilizing private capital for climate action” through developing carbon credit markets and “green bonds and loan markets.” The plan dictates that food systems, like other “key systems,” “must be transformed to address climate change.”
Notably, many reports and proposals cite COVID-19 as an inflection point which justified the implementation of their proposed revolution in food production and consumption, while avoiding any public discussion of the destructive impact of long-term restrictions.
For example, a 2020 Rockefeller Foundation report titled “Reset the table” called to exploit the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic to “transform the U.S. food system.” The paper emphasized the following:
“While Covid-19 and the resulting economic downturn made the negative consequences of the food system worse and more obvious, the pandemic did not create them and its end will not solve them. Covid-19 has, however, increased both the imperative and the opportunity to address these flaws and limitations once and for all. Now is the moment to transform the U.S. food system.”
Established by the oligarchic founders of Standard Oil, John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Sr., the Rockefeller Foundation is one of the most influential non-governmental policy hubs of the trans-Atlantic elite. With assets totaling $7.7 billion, the foundation serves as the Rockefeller family’s front-facing philanthropic arm. Notorious for its role in 1940s US government-run medical experiments that saw Guatemalan peasants injected with syphilis, the Rockefeller Foundation is now headed by Rajiv Shah, the former head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a US government soft power cutout which in recent years attempted to topple governments in Venezuela and Cuba.
As reporter Michael Nevradakis revealed, some of the contributors to the Rockefeller Foundation’s “Reset the Table” enjoy close ties with the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Known for its advocacy of a transformative global “Great Reset,” the WEF markets itself as a policy nexus guiding the future of global capitalism. Each year, hedge fund managers, bankers, CEOs, media representatives, and government officials gather in Davos under the auspices of the WEF to “shape global, regional and industry agendas.” As Foreign Affairs put it, “the WEF has no formal authority, but it has become the major forum for elites to discuss policy ideas and priorities.”
Notably, the WEF and the UN signed a Strategic Partnership Framework in 2019 to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an agreement which signaled an entrenched relationship that will shape sustainability efforts in the years to come.
As The Grayzone reported, the partnership framework was signed without previous discussion in any UN Assembly or intergovernmental process, effectively overriding the UN’s established decision-making frameworks.
An influential commission describing itself as the “Davos for food,” the EAT-Lancet Commission, exists at the heart of the elite network lobbying to impose major dietary changes on the global population.
EAT-Lancet is pushing a flexitarian “Planetary Health Diet” in a gimmicky move to link human health choices with the supposed health of the planet. The World Economic Forum heartily endorsed EAT’s proposal in a 2019 blog post entitled, “Why we all need to go on the ‘planetary health diet’ to save the world.”
Though the World Health Organization initially approved EAT-Lancet’s Planetary Health Diet, it later withdrew support after Italian diplomat Gian Lorenzo Cornado questioned the diet’s scientific and nutritional basis.
In a letter to other high-level diplomats and institutions, Cornado declared that “a standard diet for the whole planet…has no scientific justification at all,” and “would mean the destruction of millenary healthy traditional diets which are a full part of the cultural heritage and social harmony in many nations.” Cornado added the initiative would amount to “the total elimination of consumers’ freedom of choice.”
“The idea that you would have one diet for an [entire] planet, it just doesn’t make sense. It only makes sense from a very-much globalist view that everything can come from one solution, that they will impose top-down,” academic and food scientist Dr. Frédéric Leroy commented to The Grayzone. “It’s ignoring all differences, cultural differences, practical differences.”
Indeed, EAT-Lancet appears far more attuned to the needs of the corporate world than local cultures. Its FReSH (Food Reform for Sustainability and Health) initiative, described as a campaign for the “transformation of the food system,” is co-sponsored by multinational corporations including the mega-polluting agricultural giant, Cargill; chemical producers BASF and DuPont; Google, a major defense contractor; and the pharmaceutical firm Bayer, among others.
Several of these companies, including Cargill, are heavily invested in lab-grown meats.
EAT’s advisory board, meanwhile, contains figures like Mark Wilson of BlackRock Inc., an investment company notorious for mass housing purchases that have made home ownership virtually unattainable for a broad slice of the American middle class.
EAT-Lancet’s founder and executive chair, Gunhild Stordalen, was granted a leading role at the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021, where she served as chair of the summit’s Action Track 2 “shift to sustainable consumption patterns.”
Stordalen is a physician who has leveraged the fortune of her husband, the billionaire property developer and airline owner Petter Stordalen, to place herself at the forefront of the global lobby for food system transformation. The private luxury jet in which she and her husband often junket to environmental confabs has inspired reams of negative press from European tabloids.
Stordalen’s EAT-Lancet is closely affiliated with the World Resources Institute (WRI), a non-profit whose board of directors is composed of corporate executives and hedge fund managers involved in the highly profitable rush for “sustainable” environmental solutions and renewable energy. WRI’s directors include David Blood, a former Goldman Sachs executive who teamed up with failed Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore to found the green-branded Generation Investment Management firm. According to Blood, by encouraging fellow billionaires to invest in renewable energy, his firm was “making the case for long-term greed.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the corporate-influenced WRI is closely aligned with the World Economic Forum, which promotes the group’s content on its website and hosts WRI board member and World Bank manager Mari Elka Pangestu as a WEF Agenda Contributor.
Elite groups like EAT seek “to impose whatever they can to get more control over the food system, whether that be higher profits for their corporate allies, or whether that be more centralized resources, implementation of ideological or technocratic design, or anything along those lines,” Frédéric Leroy, the food scientist, remarked to The Grayzone.
“And within [this] grab for power,” Leroy explained, “you typically have public-private partnerships. You’ll always find very similar partners and players within those setups.”
The global “green” billionaire network has put forward ambitious goals for transforming the world’s food systems at venues like the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit. Yet this bonanza of stakeholder capitalism quickly became the target of boycotts and protests by farmers and human rights groups alike.
As The Grayzone reported, the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit represented one of the most aggressive attempts to date by corporate forces and the billionaire elite to overrun the UN’s multilateralist tradition, in which states determine solutions through respect for one another’s sovereignty, with stakeholder capitalism.
UN officials and hundreds of academics complained that the UN Food Systems Summit’s proposals lacked accountability and subverted well-established mechanisms for determining food policy. The academics slammed the summit for “favoring science that reflects and reinforces the economic and political interests of an elite network of governments, researchers, and foundations with strong business ties.” Even the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Michael Fakhri, acknowledged the summit did “nothing” to help feed families.
La Vía Campesina, a global movement of small farmers, indigenous peasants and agricultural workers, staged an angry boycott of the UN summit. “Why did the [UN] Secretary-General initiate this food summit in partnership with the World Economic Forum – a private sector body?” the social movement asked in a statement condemning the event. “The entire process lacks transparency and legitimacy. Who is making decisions?”
While the UN Food Summit concluded without accomplishing anything of substance, the billionaire-backed network of “green” NGOs, foundations, and operatives continued its push to influence governments across the West.
Among the network’s apparent accomplishments is an EU proposal for sweeping meat taxes to incentivize plant-based diets, which tracks closely with a call published on the World Economic Forum website to “tax meat-eaters like smokers.” The WEF has also celebrated the EU’s plan to outlaw fuel-based cars by 2035.
The EU’s food systems transformation push is taking place under the banner of its so-called Farm To Fork strategy, which Brussels calls the “heart of [its] Green Deal.” The strategy proposes a “just transition” to a sustainable food system in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which itself calls for a massive overhaul of the world’s food systems by 2030. Marketed in cheery, utterly anodyne terms such as a “transformative vision for a better world,” the UN Sustainable Development Goals were adopted unanimously by the UN’s 193 member states in 2015.
Seven years later, however, as populations around the world experience the pain of a cost of living crisis and economic decline, the billionaire-backed institutions behind the initiative remain largely unaccountable to those being impacted by it.
As the food scientist Frédéric Leroy commented to The Grayzone, the proposed food system transformation “is rather scary because it’s coming fast and strong. It has huge resources behind it. And it’s shortcutting the normal community democratic processes because it passes on a transnational level and trickles down from above.”
To make their voices heard, some Dutch citizens may have begun targeting the business ventures of “green” billionaires with direct action.
Eva Vlaardingerbroek, a legal philosopher and vocal supporter of the Dutch farmers’ protests, noted that many of the Dutch and EU officials presiding over emissions cuts are also affiliated with the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Like many in the protest ranks, Vlaardingerbroek believes the emissions cuts are just the opening salvo in a billionaire-directed war for control over land, food, and ultimately, the essential components of human biology.
As their struggle intensifies, the Dutch protesters appear to have targeted the Gates empire directly. While circumstances surrounding the incident remain unclear, a manufacturing plant of Gates-funded delivery-only supermarket Picnic, known for its vegan alternatives and fake meat products, burned down during an evening of farmer protests.
The incident drew attention to the Dutch government’s increasingly intimate – and evidently corrupt – relationship with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
A successful startup, Picnic doubled its revenue in 2020 and will soon expand to other European countries, including France and Germany. Since its 2015 launch, Picnic has raked in 604 million euros in investments, with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation providing a majority of the funding.
Dutch Minister for Nature and Nitrogen Policy Christianne van der Wal-Zeggelink, who pushed for the nitrogen emissions cuts the government is now imposing, is married to Piet van der Wal, an heir to the wealth of the family-owned Dutch supermarket chain Boni. And Van der Wal happens to be a major investor in Picnic, which has contracted Boni as a supplier.
In other words, the Dutch Minister who called for the nitrogen cuts is profiting from the Gates-backed Picnic chain, a company which likely stands to financially benefit if her efforts succeed.
Indeed, the Dutch policy would cause a drop in meat production, thus ensuring an increase in consumer demand for the meat-free, lab-grown products offered by Picnic – and a windfall profit for the billionaire investors behind it.
World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab has boasted that his organization “penetrate[s] the cabinets” of governments across the West by cultivating leaders before they take power.
The current Dutch administration is a perfect example: Prime Minister Mark Rutte is a WEF Agenda Contributor who has zealously campaigned for a food system overhaul. The PM has also lauded the World Economic Forum’s food innovation hubs, described as “a market-based partnership program” meant “to sustainably scale innovative solutions for food systems transformation.” The WEF-funded hubs are operating from the Dutch city of Wageningen.
In a news release promoting its food hubs, the WEF placed the onus not only on governments and institutions, but on small farmers and average people across the planet to adjust their lives in accordance to the UN goals:
“With 10 years to achieve the [UN] Sustainable Development Goals, we need to fundamentally change the way food is produced and consumed. This includes changing the practices of more than 500 million smallholder farmers and the consumption patterns of 7.7 billion individuals.”
The Dutch government has committed to several years of public funding to support the hubs.
Other examples of significant Dutch government ties to the WEF include Dutch Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Sigrid Kaag, a WEF agenda contributor; and Dutch Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Karien van Gennip, who was elected as a WEF Young Global Leader in 2008.
Many involved with the European Union and the European Commission are also deeply embedded in the WEF: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, for example, is an Agenda Contributor, as are many European Parliament members.
For institutions like the WEF and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, advancing “sustainability” is paramount. But these elite organizations’ interpretation of the concept contrasts strongly with the way the millions of people who will be impacted by the agenda seem to understand it.
Critically, the “green” billionaires’ food transformation is intensifying alongside a global food and resource shortage – a disaster driven by policies many of these same elites advanced.
In recent months rising food prices, fuel shortages, and soaring living costs have triggered working class revolts across the globe. Yet the critical moment has been met with relative media silence, or in some cases explanations which sought to depict various uprisings as isolated events rather than an international response to the growing calamities of global capitalism.
The response from the Western left has also been muted, clearing space for the right to redirect the rage of millions disenfranchised by transnational capitalism into support for its agenda.
This year, national demonstrations driven by the global food and energy shortage have cropped up from Panama to Ecuador to Albania to Puerto Rico to Peru. As the crisis deepened, Italian Prime Minister and former banker Mario Draghi stepped down and Estonian PM Kaja Kallas, a key voice of NATO hostility against Russia, was forced to form a new coalition after resigning.
Sri Lanka was the site of 2022’s most ferocious revolt so far, and offers a preview of what may lie ahead if the Dutch government follows through with plans to gut its agricultural sector.
Among the protesters’ grievances was a failed scheme by Rajapaska to make Sri Lanka the world’s first 100% organic farming nation. As part of the initiative, Sri Lanka temporarily banned chemical fertilizers in April 2021. The restrictions swiftly devastated nearly 2 million Sri Lankan farmers who account for a full 10% of the country’s economy, turning the country’s food sovereign economy upside down.
Now, instead of producing enough rice to feed its citizens and export around the world, Sri Lanka must import the staple. Meanwhile, a staggering drop-off in tea production has cost its economy around $425 million in export revenue. Rajapaska’s artificially engineered food shortage has plunged over half-a-million Sri Lankans into poverty.
While Sri Lankans suffered, Rajapaska’s fertilizer ban won plaudits from supposed socially responsible investor groups; one praised his government for “taking up sustainability and ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) issues as its top priority.”
The World Health Organization’s demand for Covid-19 lockdowns further decimated Sri Lanka’s economy. By closing its borders to outside travel and restricting the movement of its domestic population throughout 2020 and 2021, Sri Lanka’s government wiped out some 200,000 jobs provided by its tourism sector. (The lockdowns were game-planned months before the pandemic began, during an October 2019 tabletop simulation called Event 201 that counted the Gates Foundation and World Economic Forum among its sponsors).
Now that Rajapaska is out of office, Sri Lankan protesters have turned their attention to new interim President Ranil Wickremesinghe, a World Economic Forum (WEF) Agenda Contributor who authored a widely ridiculed article for the group in 2018: “This is How I Will Make My Country Rich by 2025.”
The US and EU-led economic sanctioning of Russia, one of the world’s top exporters of grain, fertilizer, oil, and gas, has only worsened the economic crisis unfolding around the world. In the face of the harsh new reality, the billionaire-backed “green” network has refused to shift from its plan for a rapid transformation of food systems.
Ursula von der Leyen, the World Economic Forum agenda contributor who heads the European Commission, used her appearance at the WEF’s May 2022 gathering to proclaim that “we must accelerate our green energy transition” as supplies of Russian oil and gas dry up.
Back in von der Leyen’s home country of Germany, however, the government has been forced to bring coal-fired power plants back online to make up for the lack of Russian fuel, severely undercutting its climate agenda.
“Not only is Germany not feeding the rest of the world,” Christian Westbrook, a farmer and host of the popular Ice Age Farmer broadcast, told The Grayzone, “they are competing to get the grains that should be coming out of other net exporters. Some countries for example, such as Kazakhstan, Moldova see that there are these problems with the natural gas supply, they get into protectionist mode and say, ‘Okay, we’re gonna stop exporting our grains. We’re holding on to what we have created.’ This is why grain prices have shot up to record levels.”
The looming shortages have prompted German Interior Minister Nancy Faesser to warn that “radical protests” could sweep the country this Winter. Similarly, the neoliberal Economist magazine predicted that “a wave of unrest is coming” due to “soaring food and fuel prices.”
Though the EU temporarily paused its “Farm to Fork” sustainability effort in response to the acute resource crisis, Germany’s Social Democratic-Green governing coalition has insisted on maintaining a handful of the program’s restrictions.
In Canada, meanwhile, the Liberal government of Prime Minister and World Economic Forum Agenda Contributor Justin Trudeau has proposed nitrogen emissions reduction targets almost identical to those that provoked the Dutch farmers’ revolt. As food shortages intensify on a global scale, Trudeau’s proposal has led Canadian farmers to publicly ponder whether their government is deliberately worsening the crisis.
“The fact that this is going on around the world gives us the sort of idea that this isn’t an organic process,” Westbrook observed. “It’s just like COVID, when all the nations around the world went exactly the same route. Sri Lanka did the same thing and now they’re collapsing completely… So these are bad decisions that are being made around the world, almost in unison right now.”
The elite and corporate-backed “transformation” of food systems contains unmistakable echoes of the agenda Klaus Schwab favorably described as a “Great Reset,” and whose goals, according to his World Economic Forum, include building a “new social contract.”
The WEF formalized its concept of a Great Reset at the dawn of the Covid-19 pandemic, issuing a call “for global stakeholders to cooperate in simultaneously managing the direct consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.”
In turn, governments around the globe imposed sweeping restrictions that accelerated the digitalization of social life, education, work, and access to society. Tech and pharmaceutical industry “stakeholders” raked in previously unimaginable riches as a result, while pandemic restrictions ruined the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions, particularly in the global South.
If COVID-19 was the springboard for a so-called Great Reset, the planned transformation of global food systems appears to be its next phase. And those with the power to affect such radical changes are explicit in their aims.
As Schwab stated at the World Food Day Ceremony at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in October 2021, “As we get back on our feet after the COVID crisis, we need to rebuild in a way that is healthier, more sustainable. The pandemic has underscored the need to retool the entire food system.”
“This pandemic has provided the opportunity for a reset,” Canadian PM and WEF contributor Justin Trudeau told a UN conference in September 2020. “This is our chance to accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts to reimagine economic systems that actually address global challenges like inequality, poverty and climate change.”
“[COVID-19] is certainly a major crisis, but it also offers us a unique opportunity,” none other than Dutch PM Mark Rutte emphasized. “Now is the time to make the changes we need to build a climate resilient world… and to achieve progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.” Rutte subsequently linked sustainable food security to climate action when pledging money to CGIAR, a Bill Gates-backed agricultural hub.
But the ruling elite are not the only ones making the connection between Covid and food systems. As the “reset” shifts into higher gear, Dutch farmers cite the Canadian Freedom Trucker Convoy as an inspiration for their movement. Outside the Dutch Embassy in Ottawa this July, many Canadian convoy participants gathered to show solidarity with the farmers.
As a billionaire-backed network advances its blueprint for a “transformation” of food systems across the globe, an anti-“new normal” populism is rising alongside it.
“Protesting is the only way,” said Dutch farmer Ingrid de Sain. “We have to hope that with protesting, we can save our own lives. Yes, we want to take care of nature. Yes, we want to take care of the climate. But we also want to be farmers. And no one, not even our government, can take that away from us.”
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