Since the beginning of the discussion, Dr. George Kent has used NAFTA as an example stating that the priority in these types of agreements is to defend the business interest of the large producers, obviously, since they are the ones being represented in the negotiations.
The issue is that in order to achieve this production system that stresses profits instead of food supply, government regulations and structures that always seek financial gain have been implemented, disregarding not only the food supply, but also the environmental and cultural impact.
In Mexico, the effects from NAFTA have been devastating for the small producers and for the impoverished population, since producers cannot compete against large corporations, and the population´s food purchasing power decreases daily. At the same time, the large producers find themselves in a period of bonanza, since the structure that has been established works for them to export farm products that indeed have risen over the last few years, a fact that makes Mexican officials proud. However, what they do not take into account is that in order to achieve this production, they use resources that should be used to benefit the population at large.
The government encouraged community organizations to be established in every state to determine how resources allotted to farming should be spent. These organizations locally manage state-funded programs, steering them towards what is deemed convenient according to local and national needs. In theory it seems right, but in fact, if these organizations are run by the producer elite circle, as they in fact are, it is reasonable to assume that their priorities shall be in line with what serves their best interest, not what the population or the small producers need, who, as Dr. Kent states, have no place to share their opinion nor defend their interests during the decision-making process.
Therefore, even if it seems unrealistic, it is also necessary to weigh human rights and environmental issues during trade agreements, and the financial issue should not be the top priority. If not done, we will all have to bear the cost, as it is already happening in Mexico, with violence and poverty levels that a few years ago would have been unimaginable.
Best regards from Mexico,
Moisés Gómez Porchini