Tag Archives: food crisis

The Global Food Crisis is not over. Our obligations go beyond fixing the financial system,” says UN Special Rapporteur

26 June 2009

(GENEVA – NEW YORK) The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Mr. Olivier De Schutter, calls on decision-makers gathering in New York for the UN Conference on World Financial and Economic Crisis not to forget the global food prices crisis. This crisis is continuing in many countries. It is connected not only with the financial and economic crises, but also with the climatic/environmental crisis. Continue reading

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Summit that’s hard to swallow – world leaders enjoy 18-course banquet as they discuss how to solve global food crisis

Food shortages mean starving for these Ethiopians

Food shortages mean starving for these Ethiopians

James Chapman writing for the Daily Mail

Just two days ago, Gordon Brown was urging us all to stop wasting food and combat rising prices and a global shortage of provisions.

But yesterday the Prime Minister and other world leaders sat down to an 18-course gastronomic extravaganza at a G8 summit in Japan, which is focusing on the food crisis.

The dinner, and a six-course lunch, at the summit of leading industrialised nations on the island of Hokkaido, included delicacies such as caviar, milkfed lamb, sea urchin and tuna, with champagne and wines flown in from Europe and the U.S.

G8 leaders discussing the world food crisis in Japan raise their glasses ahead of an 18-course dinner

G8 leaders discussing the world food crisis in Japan raise their glasses ahead of an 18-course dinner

 G8 leaders discussing the world food crisis in Japan raise their glasses ahead of an 18-course dinner

But the extravagance of the menus drew disapproval from critics who thought it hypocritical to produce such a lavish meal when world food supplies are under threat.

On Sunday, Mr Brown called for prudence and thrift in our kitchens, after a Government report concluded that 4.1million tonnes of food was being wasted by householders.

He suggested we could save up to £8 a week by making our shopping go further. It was vital to reduce ‘unnecessary demand’ for food, he said. Continue reading

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An alternative response to current oil and food crises

Here is an alternative and deeply ideological response to the current crisis of global economic system reflected by oil and food speculation and profit-greed at a scale unprecedented in the recent times.

At the heart of the crisis is the breakdown of the global economic system. For decades, politicians, corporate leaders and the media have subjected the world’s people to the self-serving claim that the capitalist market is the most rational means of allocating society’s resources. What is now being revealed is the basic conflict between the needs of a modern mass society and anarchy of the profit system.

It is impossible to ascertain any truthful estimates of remaining global supplies, because the oil producing countries and energy conglomerates have vested interests in concealing their “business secrets” from the people. Entrenched corporate and political opposition has also largely squelched large-scale development of environmentally safe and sustainable alternatives, although the technology has existed, in some cases, for decades.

Supposed solutions produced within the framework of the capitalist system have only worsened the crisis. The development of bio-fuels is a case in point. Even if one were to accept the widely disputed claims that bio-fuels are a means of reducing carbon emissions, their production has only led to a massive increase in the price of corn and other crops, wreaking havoc throughout the world. The entire project has been tied to the interests of agri-business monopolies, such as ADM and Cargill, which have an overriding concern, not in ending global warming, but boosting their bottom lines.

The rational use of remaining petroleum resources and the development of genuine alternatives require an unprecedented level of international cooperation and the marshalling of the world’s technological, material and human resources. This is not possible as long as capitalism divides the globe into competing nation states, each vying for advantage over the other.

The mad scramble to control the world’s remaining oil supplies has led to a violent struggle, in which the bloody US invasion and occupation of Iraq is but one episode. All of the major powers—from the US, to China, Europe, and Japan—are vying for control of the Middle East, the Caspian region, the Artic and Antarctica and even the sea-beds of the world’s oceans. The struggle for resources is once again threatening the world with the eruption of a new round of imperialist wars, which could threaten the very survival of humanity.

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FAO: More Free Trade, More Hunger

by Esther Vivas

Today humanity produces three times what was produced in the 1960s, while the population has only doubled.  There is no production crisis in agriculture, but the impossibility of accessing food by large populations who cannot pay current prices. The solution cannot be more free trade.

The high level summit of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations held in Rome on Food Security ended on June 5th.  The conclusions of the gathering do not indicate a change in the policy trends which have been in force these last years and which have led to the current situation.  The declarations of good intentions made by various governments and the promises of millions of euros to end hunger in the world are not capable of ending the structural causes that have generated this crisis.  On the contrary, the proposals made by the general secretary of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, to increase food production by 50% and to eliminate the export limits imposed by some of the countries affected, only reinforce the root causes of this crisis rather than addressing and guaranteeing the food security of the majority of the people in the global South. Continue reading

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The Commodities Bubble

Sameer Dossani | June 28, 2008 on the Foreign Policy in Focus

In the final analysis, the food crisis is actually a convergence of two crises. The first is the crisis of speculation, characterized by a chronic “bubble economy.” Increased regulation and taxation of speculation of all kinds is the only long-term solution to this crisis.

The second is a crisis that has been a long time coming – the crisis of global agriculture which has been in many ways been a planned and calculated crisis. When agricultural policy is not made by citizens and their elected representatives but rather by international financial institutions and their market fundamentalist policies and by big agribusiness whose primary concern is their own bottom line, it is a recipe for disaster.

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Agribusiness vs. food security- more on the food crisis

Banglapraxis quotes Bretten Woods Project on the current food crisis and the skewed diagnosis by Development institutions:

The IFIs trace 15 per cent of the increase to higher energy and fertilizer costs linked to skyrocketing oil prices, and another 15 – 30 per cent to the impact of biofuels. They have been silent on the role of speculative financial capital, which Peter Rosset, researcher at the Centro de Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo Mexicano, calls “one of the most important” short-term causes. Other short-term factors include record-low food stocks and severe weather events such as last year’s Australian drought…

There is also enormous skepticism about the benefits of the current agribusiness model. The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), a three-year high-level exercise, came under “enormous pressure” according to one high-level insider to conform with the findings of the Bank’s World Development Report on agriculture (see Update 58). In contrast to the WDR, the IAASTD emphasises food security, environmental sustainability, and traditional knowledge. It criticises trade liberalisation for undermining the agricultural sector and stresses the need to “preserve national policy flexibility”.

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Food crisis, food justice, food relationships

This article by Ornaith O’Dowd, NYC found at Interventions blog is revealing

We are in the midst of a global food crisis the likes of which we have not seen in at least a generation. Such is the official consensus, from the UN to the corporate media. We have heard appeals for increased food aid from humanitarian organizations; we have heard of unrest in over thirty countries as a result of soaring food prices. There are dark mutterings of political destabilization, even revolution. Already one head of government, Haiti’s Prime Minister, has been turfed out of office as people protest the growing gap between their incomes and the price of food. Others are surely feeling uneasy.

Commentators have reached a broad consensus about the causes: rising oil prices, increased ethanol production, more people in India and China adopting Western food consumption habits (such as eating a lot of meat and a lot of processed foods), extreme weather events (such as the Australian drought, arguably caused by global warming). Major producers from Argentina to Vietnam have restricted exports, further tightening supply.

Two other factors are relevant, but somewhat less widely mentioned: the effect of large-scale speculation in commodities markets (see here, and the effects of neoliberal trade “reforms” dictated to poorer countries by international financial institutions (IFIs) like the IMF and World Bank (see here). As speculators have helped drive prices up, poor countries whose food production base was destroyed by trade “liberalization” are left dependent on ever more expensive food imports.

Who are the winners? Predictably, major transnational corporations– and not only in the food/ agribusiness sector (the recent good news for big oil being the most obvious example).

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