Jan 14

Hunger-Games


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Oct 11

The GMO Biotech Lobby’s Emotional Blackmail and Bogus Claims: Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Crops Will Not Feed The World (Global Research, Oct 9, 2014):

“There are 7.2 billion people on the planet. There will be 9.6 billion by 2050. The demand for food will double… [Using GM food and data science is] the only thing that will enable us to feed the planet without encroaching on the forests and wetlands….This represents a business opportunity, but from a societal perspective, it’s very important.” Robert Fraley, CEO of Monsanto, Winner of the World Food Prize 2013 [1].

The claims made by Monsanto do not stack up. Issues pertaining to the weaponisation of food aside [2], GM food represents little more than a massive business opportunity, a way of enriching a handful of people, all carried out under the guise of altruism. Continue reading »

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Apr 28

Epidemic Of Hunger: New Report Says 49 Million Americans Are Dealing With Food Insecurity (Economic Collapse, April 27, 2014):

If the economy really is “getting better”, then why are nearly 50 million Americans dealing with food insecurity?  In 1854, Henry David Thoreau observed that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”.  The same could be said of our time.  In America today, most people are quietly scratching and clawing their way from month to month.  Nine of the top ten occupations in the U.S. pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year, but those that actually are working are better off than the millions upon millions of Americans that can’t find jobs.  The level of employment in this nation has remained fairly level since the end of the last recession, and median household income has gone down for five years in a row.  Meanwhile, our bills just keep going up and the cost of food is starting to rise at a very frightening pace.  Family budgets are being squeezed tighter and tighter, and more families are falling out of the middle class every single day.  In fact, a new report by Feeding America (which operates the largest network of food banks in the country) says that 49 million Americans are “food insecure” at this point.  Approximately 16 million of them are children.  It is a silent epidemic of hunger that those living in the wealthy areas of the country don’t hear much about.  But it is very real. Continue reading »

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Apr 19

The Euro Legacy: In Greece, Children Pick Through Trash Cans For Food (ZeroHedge, April 18, 2013):

“We have reached a point where children are coming to school hungry,” as with an estimated 10% of Greek elementary and middle school students suffering from ‘food insecurity’, the troubled nation has fallen to the level of some African countries. As the NY Times reports, unlike the US, Greek schools do not offer subsidized cafeteria lunches. Exacerbated by the austerity measures including cuts in subsidies for larger families, the cost has become insurmountable for many. With 26% of Greek households on an ‘economically weak diet’, children are starting to steal for food and picking through trash cans as they proclaim, “our dreams are crushed.” What is frightening is the speed at which it is happening, “a year ago it wasn’t like this,” as one family talks of the ‘cabbage-based diet’ which it supplements by foraging for snails in nearby fields. Programs are being started to help from wealthier Greeks, but as one parent said, “unless the EU acts, we’re done for.”

Via NY Times,

As an elementary school principal, Leonidas Nikas is used to seeing children play, laugh and dream about the future. But recently he has seen something altogether different, something he thought was impossible in Greece: children picking through school trash cans for food; needy youngsters asking playmates for leftovers; and an 11-year-old boy, Pantelis Petrakis, bent over with hunger pains.

Continue reading »

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Jul 22

The Price Of Corn Hits A Record High As A Global Food Crisis Looms (The Economic Collapse, July 21, 2012):

Are you ready for the next major global food crisis?  The price of corn hit an all-time record high on Thursday.  So did the price of soybeans.  The price of corn is up about 50 percent since the middle of last month, and the price of wheat has risen by about 50 percent over the past five weeks.  On Thursday, corn for September delivery reached $8.166 per bushel, and many analysts believe that it could hit $10 a bushel before this crisis is over.  The worst drought in the United States in more than 50 years is projected to continue well into August, and more than 1,300 counties in the United States have been declared to be official natural disaster areas.  So how is this crisis going to affect the average person on the street?  Well, most Americans and most Europeans are going to notice their grocery bills go up significantly over the coming months.  That will not be pleasant.  But in other areas of the world this crisis could mean the difference between life and death for some people.  You see, half of all global corn exports come from the United States.  So what happens if the U.S. does not have any corn to export?  About a billion people around the world live on the edge of starvation, and today the Financial Times ran a front page story with the following headline: “World braced for new food crisis“.  Millions upon millions of families in poor countries are barely able to feed themselves right now.  So what happens if the price of the food that they buy goes up dramatically? Continue reading »

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Apr 07

Look back in hunger: Britain’s silent, scandalous epidemic (Independent, April 6, 2012):

Evidence is mounting that thousands of children in the UK are not getting enough food to eat – and that, as financial hardship spreads, their numbers are increasing rapidly

Chris is 10. He and his brother are so malnourished that their skins are pale and they have rings under their eyes. Their older brothers have such an unhealthy diet that they have lost their adult teeth. They live in the sixth-richest city in the world – London. The boys are just four among thousands of Britain’s hungry children – victims of a “silent epidemic” of malnutrition in the capital and beyond.

Kids Company, which supports 17,000 children in London, has reported a dramatic increase in the number of children coming to its walk-in centres not in search of shelter or safety, but food. The situation is mirrored around the country. In Barnsley, child-support charities are working with parents who struggle to keep cupboards stocked with such staples as milk, bread and pasta. In Bristol, a youth project has gone from offering a place for teenagers to go for advice and support, to a place they go for a basic meal.

FareShare, a charity that redistributes surplus supermarket food, says soup kitchens, hostels and community groups are struggling to meet demand from parents and young people “desperate” for handouts. Since October, 42 per cent of the groups it works with have faced rising demand for food.

Continue reading »

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Oct 05


Image Credit: Sesame Street Workshop

‘Sesame Street’ unveils muppet to teach kids about hunger — PHOTO (Entertainment Weekly, Oct 4, 2011):

Sesame Street has a new muppet who is hungry for more than just cookies.

The iconic kids show is set to unveil a new impoverished puppet named Lily, whose family faces an ongoing struggle with hunger issues. Lily will be revealed in a one-hour Sesame Street primetime special, Growing Hope Against Hunger, which is being sponsored by Walmart. The special will star country singer Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly Williams Paisley, as well as the Sesame Street Muppets.

“Food insecurity is a growing and difficult issue for adults to discuss, much less children,” said the Paisleys in a statement. “We are honored that Sesame Street, with its long history of tackling difficult issues with sensitivity, caring and warmth asked us to be a part of this important project.”

Continue reading »

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Jun 05

Jun 5 — This week Oxfam launched Grow, its most ambitious campaign.

We published research which warned that the average price of key foods such as maize, wheat and rice will more than double in the next 20 years, forcing millions into chronic hunger. There are already more than 900 million people who do not have enough to eat.

This is a man-made disaster: the result of an international food system which creates huge profits for a few while leaving millions hungry. Three US companies – Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill – control nearly 90% of the world’s grain trade. In the first quarter of 2008, at the height of a global food price crisis, Cargill’s profits were up 86%, and the company is now heading for its most profitable year yet.

Continue reading »

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Aug 30

After years of drought, flash floods have destroyed harvests in Niger

central-africa-crops-fail-millions-at-risk
Nineteen-month old Amina at Save the Children’s clinic for severely manlnourished children in Aguie, Niger, yesterday. Two of her siblings have already died within the past year
HARRIET LOGAN/SAVE THE CHILDREN

Hundreds of thousands of children across central Africa are at risk of death from starvation and disease after flash flooding worsened an already chronic humanitarian crisis caused by drought.

Aid agencies warned yesterday that 10 million people are already facing severe food shortages, particularly in the landlocked countries of Chad and Niger, after a drought led to the failure of last year’s crops. As many as 400,000 children are at risk of dying from starvation in Niger alone, according to Save the Children.

Now unusually heavy rains have washed away this year’s crops and killed cattle in a region dependent on subsistence agriculture. Organisations including Oxfam and Save the Children say that the slow international response to the emergency means that only 40 per cent of those affected are receiving food aid. As many as four out of five children require treatment for malnutrition in clinics.

Such is the shortage of international aid that the United Nations World Food Programme has had to scale back its £57m operation to feed eight million people in Niger and instead concentrate its efforts on the most vulnerable – children under two – according to Oxfam.

Save the Children says the increased malnutrition rate could swiftly be followed by an increase in the number of children dying from disease because of floods in Niger caused by heavy rain over the past few weeks. “Stagnant pools of water have been contaminated by animal carcasses and are a breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. This has increased the threat of malaria, respiratory disease and diarrhoea – the biggest killers of young children,” the organisation said.

Continue reading »

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Jun 27

Aid organisations are warning that millions of people are facing starvation from drought and crop failure in the West African country of Niger, and some people are turning to desperate measures to survive.

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Famine hit Niger in 1984 and 2005

If you look up “bo” on the internet, nothing that makes sense comes up. But we were looking at a bo, or rather looking for it.

We were walking along the bank of the Niger river, searching for the tracks of a hippopotamus that was ravaging the corn on Karim’s farm.

All of a sudden, a lizard about the size of a small crocodile hurtled out of the undergrowth and raced up a nearby baobab tree.

“It’s a bo,” everybody cried, racing to the foot of the enormous tree.

Now I had never seen a bo before, so I was interested out of pure curiosity.

The handful of villagers with us had other ideas, though. “The bo is delicious,” explained Karim. “It has the taste and texture of fish, and the inside of it is all white.

“You don’t see them very often. There are not that many about.”

Moustafa, Karim’s head man, was talking excitedly into his mobile phone. “He’s calling the kids from the village,” explained our host.

“He wants them to climb the tree and get the poor creature down.”

It was hardly surprising, I thought, that the bo was scarce. It is rotten luck to be a delicious animal in a land where people are hungry. Continue reading »

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Dec 21

UN fears irreversible damage is being done in Gaza as new statistics reveal the level of deprivation

Impoverished Palestinians on the Gaza Strip are being forced to scavenge for food on rubbish dumps to survive as Israel’s economic blockade risks causing irreversible damage, according to international observers.

Figures released last week by the UN Relief and Works Agency reveal that the economic blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza in July last year has had a devastating impact on the local population. Large numbers of Palestinians are unable to afford the high prices of food being smuggled through the Hamas-controlled tunnels to the Strip from Egypt and last week were confronted with the suspension of UN food and cash distribution as a result of the siege.

The figures collected by the UN agency show that 51.8% – an “unprecedentedly high” number of Gaza’s 1.5 million population – are now living below the poverty line. The agency announced last week that it had been forced to stop distributing food rations to the 750,000 people in need and had also suspended cash distributions to 94,000 of the most disadvantaged who were unable to afford the high prices being asked for smuggled food.

“Things have been getting worse and worse,” said Chris Gunness of the agency yesterday. “It is the first time we have been seeing people picking through the rubbish like this looking for things to eat. Things are particularly bad in Gaza City where the population is most dense.

Continue reading »

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Dec 14

Before you read The Times article below consider also the following articles:

A human rights crime in Gaza by Ex-President Jimmy Carter.

Carter says Israel has arsenal of 150 nuclear weapons:
Carter also condemned Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as “one of the greatest human rights crimes now existing on Earth,” according to the Agence France-Presse news agency.
Carter said in reference to the situation of Palestinians in Gaza that, “There is no reason to treat these people this way.”

Gaza: A modern concentration camp run by Israel:
Gaza is being forced to pump 77 tonnes of untreated or partially treated sewage out to sea daily due to the Israeli blockade of the coastal territory. The fear is that some of this is creeping back into drinking water.
“The health of Gaza’s 1.5 million people is at risk,” Mahmoud Daher, from the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) told IPS.
The results revealed that three areas in Gaza and one area in the Rafah governorate (30.8 percent) are polluted with human faeces (Faecal Coliform) and animal faeces (Faecal Streptococcus), and three areas in Gaza city (23.1 percent) are polluted with animal faeces.

Hungry Gazans Resort to Animal Feed as U.N. Blasts Israel:
GAZA CITY, Gaza — Half of Gaza’s bakeries have closed down and the other half have resorted to animal feed to produce bread as Israel’s complete blockade of the coastal territory enters its 19th day.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon alarmed at the escalating humanitarian crisis called incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week and demanded that he lift the blockade.

BBC: Gazans despair over blockade:
“People in Gaza are waiting in lines for almost everything, and that’s if they’re lucky enough to find something to wait for,” says Bassam Nasser, 39.

Israel blocks foreign media from Gaza

UN suspends food distribution in Gaza

Israeli siege leads to soaring anemia in Gaza newborns

Scottish activist films Israeli navy shooting at Gaza fishermen:
A SCOTTISH human rights activist has filmed the Israeli navy firing machine guns at unarmed Palestinian fishing boats in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s secret police pressuring sick Gazans to spy for them, says report
Israel’s secret police are pressuring Palestinians in Gaza to spy on their community in exchange for urgent medical treatment, according to a report released today by an Israeli human rights organisation.

Israel launches deadly airstrike in Gaza + Hamas fires rockets at Israel after 6 killed

U.N. chief condemns Israel after Gaza clash:
GAZA (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel for using “excessive” force in the Gaza Strip and demanded a halt to its offensive after troops killed 61 people on the bloodiest day for Palestinians since the 1980s.

The New York Times: Making Nuclear Extermination Respectable:
On July 18, 2008 The New York Times published an article by Israeli-Jewish historian, Professor Benny Morris, advocating an Israeli nuclear-genocidal attack on Iran with the likelihood of killing 70 million Iranians – 12 times the number of Jewish victims in the Nazi holocaust:

” Iran ’s leaders would do well to rethink their gamble and suspend their nuclear program. Barring this, the best they could hope for is that Israel ’s conventional air assault will destroy their nuclear facilities. To be sure, this would mean thousands of Iranian casualties and international humiliation. But the alternative is an Iran turned into a nuclear wasteland.”

Eating weeds and herbs was often the only thing that kept people alive in prison camps.

Israel turned Gaza into one big concentration camp. Why is there no help? Look who rules the world and what interests they have, then you know.
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December 14, 2008
Source: The Sunday Times

AS a convoy of blue-and-white United Nations trucks loaded with food waited last night for Israeli permission to enter Gaza, Jindiya Abu Amra and her 12-year-old daughter went scrounging for the wild grass their family now lives on.

“We had one meal today – khobbeizeh,” said Abu Amra, 43, showing the leaves of a plant that grows along the streets of Gaza. “Every day, I wake up and start looking for wood and plastic to burn for fuel and I beg. When I find nothing, we eat this grass.”

Abu Amra and her unemployed husband have seven daughters and a son. Their tiny breeze-block house has had no furniture since they burnt the last cupboard for heat.

“I can’t remember seeing a fruit,” said Rabab, 12, who goes with her mother most mornings to scavenge. She is dressed in a tracksuit top and holed jeans, and her feet are bare.

Conditions for most of the 1.5m Gazans have deteriorated dramatically in the past month, since a truce between Israel and Hamas, the ruling Islamist party, broke down.

Continue reading »

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Dec 11


Pedestrians walk past the abandoned San Martin grain silos in San Salvador, on July 22, 2008. Photographer: Alejandra Parra/Bloomberg News

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) — Inside and out, the rusted towers of El Salvador’s biggest grain silo show how the World Bank helped push developing countries into the global food crisis.

Inside, the silo, which once held thousands of tons of beans and cereals, is now empty. It was abandoned in 1991, after the bank told Salvadoran leaders to privatize grain storage, import staples such as corn and rice, and export crops including cocoa, coffee and palm oil.

Outside, where Rosa Maria Chavez’s food stand is propped against a tower wall, price increases for basic grains this year whittled business down to 16 customers a day from 80.

“It’s a monument to the mess we are in now,” says Chavez, 63.

About 40 million people joined the ranks of the undernourished this year, bringing the estimate of the world’s hungry to 963 million of its 6.8 billion people, the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said yesterday. The growth didn’t come just from natural causes.

Continue reading »

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Dec 10

Johannesburg – “Dead people are better off. They don’t need water or sadza (maize porridge). They’re just lying there nicely in their graves.”

Sitting on the stone floor of her bare home in Harare, a Zimbabwean woman poignantly expresses the desperation of millions of Zimbabweans stalked by starvation and disease.

Dinner for this woman, whose name is not given in the 15-minute film on Zimbabwe’s humanitarian crisis screened by Solidarity Peace Trust non-governmental organisation in Johannesburg on Tuesday, is a sachet of juice.

In another scene, a mother holds aloft a wailing baby, its eyes swollen shut, the skin peeling off its stubby legs. The baby is severely malnourished.

The images in the film entitled Death of a Nation, which record the slow strangulation of a population by a government hell-bent on retaining power, were taken between September and November this year.

They show a failed state where women in rural areas pick through withered trees for berries to keep their families alive because they can no longer afford a bag of maize meal.

And families telling of how they spent the day holding up a drip in an overcrowded clinic for a relative infected with cholera only to watch them die for lack of medication.

Over half Zimbabwe’s population of 12 million cannot adequately feed itself, stratospheric inflation means a tub of margarine costs US$9.65 and hundreds are dying of cholera, an easily preventable disease.

Continue reading »

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Dec 09

The food crisis has pushed the world’s number of hungry people to almost 1bn, prompting a “serious setback” to global efforts to reduce mass starvation, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Tuesday.

“The ongoing financial and economic crisis could tip even more people into hunger and poverty,” the FAO added.

The Rome-based organization said that a preliminary estimate showed the number of undernourished rose this year by 40m to about 963m people, after rising 75m in 2007. Before the food crisis, there were about 848m chronically hungry people in 2003-05.

“High food prices are driving millions of people into food insecurity, worsening conditions for many who were already food-insecure, and threatening long-term global food security,” the FAO said in its report The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008.

Continue reading »

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Jul 31

More than 14 million people in the east Africa region require urgent food aid due to drought and spiralling cereal and fuel prices, aid agencies say.

In an emergency appeal launched today, Oxfam warns that millions of people in Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Djibouti and Kenya are fast being pushed “towards severe hunger and destitution”. Earlier this week the UN said it needed £200m to avert a humanitarian disaster.

The hunger crisis is worse than the last regional emergency in 2006, when drought caused 11 million people to need assistance, because of the added impact of the global food price increases. Poor families are struggling to buy staples such as maize and wheat, which have more than doubled in price over the past 12 months.

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Sheikh flies Lamborghini 6,500 miles to Britain for oil change

His black-and-gold supercar costs £3,552 to service at an approved dealer – on top of the £20,000 to freight from Qatar to Britain. Source: Sun

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“In previous droughts most people on the margins found ways to cope,” said Peter Smerdon, of the World Food Programme. “But the simultaneous increase in food prices this time around means they are cutting down on meals and taking their kids out of school in order to try to get by. More people are falling over the edge.”

Continue reading »

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Jul 07

Every day in Vienna the amount of unsold bread sent back to be disposed of is enough to supply Austria’s second-largest city, Graz. Around 350,000 hectares of agricultural land, above all in Latin America, are dedicated to the cultivation of soybeans to feed Austria’s livestock while one quarter of the local population starves.

Every European eats ten kilograms a year of artificially irrigated greenhouse vegetables from southern Spain, with water shortages the result.

In WE FEED THE WORLD, Austrian filmmaker Erwin Wagenhofer traces the origins of the food we eat. His journey takes him to France, Spain, Romania, Switzerland, Brazil and back to Austria. Leading us through the film is an interview with Jean Ziegler, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.

WE FEED THE WORLD is a film about food and globalisation, fishermen and farmers, long-distance lorry drivers and high-powered corporate executives, the flow of goods and cash flow-a film about scarcity amid plenty. With its unforgettable images, the film provides insight into the production of our food and answers the question what world hunger has to do with us .

Interviewed are not only fishermen, farmers, agronomists, biologists and the UN’s Jean Ziegler, but also the director of production at Pioneer, the world’s largest seed company, as well as Peter Brabeck, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé International, the largest food company in the world.

Source: YouTube

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Jun 19

The United Nations has warned that more than five million Zimbabweans could be threatened by hunger next year due to a steady drop in food production coupled with the world’s highest rate of inflation.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Program said in a joint report that an estimated two million people in Zimbabwe will not have enough to eat in the summer months.

That figure is projected to rise to 3.8 million people after September and to about 5.1 million between January and March 2009, as the impact of President Robert Mugabe’s seizure of land from commercial farmers continues to take its toll. The population is just over 12 million people.

The southern African nation is predicted to produce 575,000 tons of its main seasonal crop of maize, a drop of 28 per cent compared with last year, which was already some 44 per cent below 2006 government figures. Other crops are expected to be similarly dented.

“Poverty has increased for the tenth year in a row and there is an annual inflation estimated at 355,000 percent,” said Kisan Gunjal, an FAO food emergency officer who worked on the report. “That is different than any other period in the history of Zimbabwe.” Continue reading »

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Jun 04

More than 1 million people still don’t have adequate food, water or shelter a month after a devastating cyclone swept through Myanmar, and the military junta’s policies are hindering relief efforts and driving up the cost of aid operations, the United Nations said Tuesday.

Humanitarian groups say they continue to face hurdles from Myanmar’s military government in sending disaster experts and vital equipment into the country. As a result, only a trickle of aid is reaching the storm’s estimated 2.4 million survivors, leaving many without even basic relief.

Compounding these problems, the junta’s refusal to allow the use of military helicopters from neighboring countries is driving up relief costs, an official from the World Food Program said.

Aid groups are unable to provide 1.1 million survivors with sufficient food and clean water, while trying to prevent a second wave of deaths from malnutrition and disease, the U.N. said in its latest assessment report. Continue reading »

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May 05

We need to overturn food policy, now!

GRAIN

For some time now the rising cost of food all over the world has taken households, governments and the media by storm. The price of wheat has gone up by 130% over the last year.[1] Rice has doubled in price in Asia in the first three months of 2008 alone,[2] and just last week it hit record highs on the Chicago futures market.[3] For most of 2007 the spiralling cost of cooking oil, fruit and vegetables, as well as of dairy and meat, led to a fall in the consumption of these items. From Haiti to Cameroon to Bangladesh, people have been taking to the streets in anger at being unable to afford the food they need. In fear of political turmoil, world leaders have been calling for more food aid, as well as for more funds and technology to boost agricultural production. Cereal exporting countries, meanwhile, are closing their borders to protect their domestic markets, while other countries have been forced into panic buying. Is this a price blip? No. A food shortage? Not that either. We are in a structural meltdown, the direct result of three decades of neoliberal globalisation.

Farmers across the world produced a record 2.3 billion tons of grain in 2007, up 4% on the previous year. Since 1961 the world’s cereal output has tripled, while the population has doubled. Stocks are at their lowest level in 30 years, it’s true,[4] but the bottom line is that there is enough food produced in the world to feed the population. The problem is that it doesn’t get to all of those who need it. Less than half of the world’s grain production is directly eaten by people. Most goes into animal feed and, increasingly, biofuels – massive inflexible industrial chains. In fact, once you look behind the cold curtain of statistics, you realise that something is fundamentally wrong with our food system. We have allowed food to be transformed from something that nourishes people and provides them with secure livelihoods into a commodity for speculation and bargaining. The perverse logic of this system has come to a head. Today it is staring us in the face that this system puts the profits of investors before the food needs of people. Continue reading »

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May 04

Speculators blamed for driving up price of basic foods as 100 million face severe hunger

Giant agribusinesses are enjoying soaring earnings and profits out of the world food crisis which is driving millions of people towards starvation, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. And speculation is helping to drive the prices of basic foodstuffs out of the reach of the hungry.

The prices of wheat, corn and rice have soared over the past year driving the world’s poor – who already spend about 80 per cent of their income on food – into hunger and destitution.

The World Bank says that 100 million more people are facing severe hunger. Yet some of the world’s richest food companies are making record profits. Monsanto last month reported that its net income for the three months up to the end of February this year had more than doubled over the same period in 2007, from $543m (£275m) to $1.12bn. Its profits increased from $1.44bn to $2.22bn.

Cargill’s net earnings soared by 86 per cent from $553m to $1.030bn over the same three months. And Archer Daniels Midland, one of the world’s largest agricultural processors of soy, corn and wheat, increased its net earnings by 42 per cent in the first three months of this year from $363m to $517m. The operating profit of its grains merchandising and handling operations jumped 16-fold from $21m to $341m.

Similarly, the Mosaic Company, one of the world’s largest fertiliser companies, saw its income for the three months ending 29 February rise more than 12-fold, from $42.2m to $520.8m, on the back of a shortage of fertiliser. The prices of some kinds of fertiliser have more than tripled over the past year as demand has outstripped supply. As a result, plans to increase harvests in developing countries have been hit hard.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation reports that 37 developing countries are in urgent need of food. And food riots are breaking out across the globe from Bangladesh to Burkina Faso, from China to Cameroon, and from Uzbekistan to the United Arab Emirates. Continue reading »

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Apr 09

Huge budget deficit means millions more face starvation.

Ears of wheat growing in a field. Photograph: Steve Satushek/Getty images

The United Nations warned yesterday that it no longer has enough money to keep global malnutrition at bay this year in the face of a dramatic upward surge in world commodity prices, which have created a “new face of hunger”. Continue reading »

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Apr 08

Rising food prices, which have caused social unrest in several countries, are not a temporary phenomenon, but are likely to persist for several years, World Bank President Robert Zoellick says.

Strong demand, change in diet and the use of biofuels as an alternative source of energy have reduced world food stocks to a level bordering on an emergency, he says.

Speaking to reporters Monday before the bank’s spring meeting this coming weekend, Zoellick said the 185-member World Bank would work with other organizations to deal with the crisis by seeking ways to help farmers, especially in Africa, to increase productivity and improve access to food through schools or workplaces.

“This is not a this-year phenomenon,” he said, referring to the price spike. “I think it is going to continue for some time.” Continue reading »

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Mar 20

carrot.jpg

IT IS the new face of hunger. A perfect storm of food scarcity, global warming, rocketing oil prices and the world population explosion is plunging humanity into the biggest crisis of the 21st century by pushing up food prices and spreading hunger and poverty from rural areas into cities.

Millions more of the world’s most vulnerable people are facing starvation as food shortages loom and crop prices spiral ever upwards.

And for the first time in history, say experts, the impact is spreading from the developing to the developed world.

More than 73 million people in 78 countries that depend on food handouts from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are facing reduced rations this year. The increasing scarcity of food is the biggest crisis looming for the world”, according to WFP officials.

At the same time, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned that rising prices have triggered a food crisis in 36 countries, all of which will need extra help. The threat of malnutrition is the world’s forgotten problem”, says the World Bank as it demands urgent action.

wheat.jpg

The bank points out that global food prices have risen by 75% since 2000, while wheat prices have increased by 200%. The cost of other staples such as rice and soya bean have also hit record highs, while corn is at its most expensive in 12 years. Continue reading »

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Mar 15

“The United Nation’s agency responsible for relieving hunger is drawing up plans to ration food aid in response to the spiralling cost of agricultural commodities”….

“The WFP crisis talks come as the body sees the emergence of a “new area of hunger” in developing countries where even middle-class, urban people are being “priced out of the food market” because of rising food prices.”…

“The price of rice and wheat has doubled in the past year while freight costs have also increased sharply on the back of rising fuel prices.”… Continue reading »

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