The Impact of Agribusinesses on the Livelihood of the People

As a young woman with a passion for public and global health, I am always searching for books and articles that explore the relationship between globalization and health outcomes or the positive and negative impacts of businesses on local communities. I recently read a book by environmentalist Vandana Shiva titled Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace in which she argues that globalization “separates nature from people.”  To support this argument, Shiva uses the example of farmer suicide in India that is caused by exclusivist globalized agricultural policies.  Instead of farmers planting seeds, corporations engineer seeds with nonrenewable traits, thus privatizing a traditionally free natural resource. Such privatization disrupts the way of life for many people by replacing their jobs with businesses and creating the financial burden of forcing small farmers to purchase genetically modified seeds (GMOs).


Additionally, many agribusinesses promote sustainable agriculture and persuade farmers to use fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, which can disrupt local traditional practices of farming. More importantly, pesticides can cause health problems, such as birth defects and cancer depending on the toxicity of the chemicals and the length of exposure. How sustainable is the practice of GMOs if they can be threatening to the health of those who consume and directly work with these crops? Are agribusinesses doing more harm than good within the community? Is it possible for agribusinesses to enhance the economic situation in developing countries if many small farmers are losing their jobs due to competition?

For more on GMOs, the following video, titled “GMOs, Enslavement & Poverty: Seeds of Freedom,” is extremely enlightening.  Link:

Asia Young 

Wellesley College

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