Nov 30

Related information:

- Transplanting Plum Island to Kansas: Is the US food supply at risk? (Yes!)

- USDA: No strategic grain reserves … they sold them!

- UN: Food prices may rise by up to 20%



Every month, JPMorgan Chase dispatches a researcher to several supermarkets in Virginia. The task is to comparison shop for 31 items.

In July, the firm’s personal shopper came back with a stunning report: Wal-Mart had raised its prices 5.8% during the previous month. More significantly, its prices were approaching the levels of competing stores run by Kroger and Safeway. The “low-price leader” still holds its title, but by a noticeably slimmer margin.

Within this tale lie several lessons you can put to work to make money. And it’s best to get started soon, because if you think your grocery bill is already high, you ain’t seen nothing yet. In fact, we could be just one supply shock away from a full-blown food crisis that would make the price spikes of 2008 look like a happy memory.

Fact is,  the food crisis of 2008 never really went away.

True, food riots didn’t break out in poor countries during 2009 and warehouse stores like Costco didn’t ration 20-pound bags of rice…but supply remained tight.

Prices for basic foodstuffs like corn and wheat remain below their 2008 highs. But they’re a lot higher than they were before “the food crisis of 2008” took hold. Here’s what’s happened to some key farm commodities so far in 2010…

  • Corn: Up 63%
  • Wheat: Up 84%
  • Soybeans: Up 24%
  • Sugar: Up 55%

What was a slow and steady increase much of the year has gone into overdrive since late summer. Blame it on two factors…

  • Aug. 5: A failed wheat harvest prompted Russia to ban grain exports through the end of the year. Later in August, the ban was extended through the end of 2011. Drought has wrecked the harvest in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan – home to a quarter of world production
  • Oct. 8: For a second month running, the Agriculture Department cut its forecast for US corn production. The USDA predicts a 3.4% decline from last year. Damage done by Midwestern floods in June was made worse by hot, dry weather in August.

America’s been blessed with year after year of “record harvests,” depending on how you measure it. So when crisis hits elsewhere in the world, the burden of keeping the world fed falls on America’s shoulders.

Continue reading »

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Jun 04

Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Soy Diet for Illinois Prisoners

soybeans
Soybeans

When Rod Blagojevich was elected governor of Illinois in 2002, he immediately made a change in the prison diets. Beginning in January 2003, inmates began receiving a diet largely based on processed soy protein, with very little meat. In most meals, small amounts of meat or meat by-products are mixed with 60-70 percent soy protein; fake soy cheese has replaced real cheese; and soy flour or soy protein is now added to most of the baked goods.

The governor’s justification for replacing nutritious meat and cheese with toxic soy protein was financial-to lower the enormous costs of running the Illinois Department of Corrections. However, the likely reason is payback for campaign contributions from Archer Daniels Midland, the main supplier of soy products to the Illinois prisons.

Suffering of Inmates

Early in 2007, the Weston A. Price Foundation began hearing from inmates who were suffering from a myriad of serious health problems due to the large amounts of soy in the diet. These prisoners had found us through the Soy Alert! section of our website. Complaints include chronic and painful constipation alternating with debilitating diarrhea, vomiting after eating, sharp pains in the digestive tract, especially after consuming soy, passing out, heart palpitations, rashes, acne, insomnia, panic attacks, insomnia, depression and symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as low body temperature (feeling cold all the time), brain fog, fatigue, weight gain, frequent infections and enlarged thyroid gland. Since soy contains anti-fertility compounds, many young prisoners may be unable to father children after their release.

The suffering of these men is intense and medical care is palliative at best. Many have had sections of their digestive tract removed, but all requests for a soy-free diet are denied. The men are told, “If you don’t like the food, don’t eat it.” That means that unless they can afford to purchase commissary food, they must eat the soy food or starve.

Lawsuit

The Weston A. Price Foundation has hired an attorney to represent several inmates incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections system. The Foundation’s attorney has entered his appearance on behalf of three inmates, has had contacts with several other inmates, has served several subpoenas upon the wardens of several facilities for documents and other information, and has informed the Court that additional inmates will soon be named in an amended complaint. Continue reading »

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Apr 27

See also:

- Bayer AG admits GMO contamination out of control

Monsanto: GM-Corn Harvest of 82,000 Hectares in South Africa Fails


vegetables

Russia has started the annual Days of Defence against Environmental Hazards from the 15th of April to the 5th of June with the announcement of sensational results of an independent work of research. Scientists have proved that Genetically Modified Organisms are harmful for mammals. The researchers discovered that animals that eat GM foodstuffs lose their ability to reproduce. Campbell hamsters that have a fast reproduction rate were fed for two years with ordinary soya beans, which are widely used in agriculture and those contain different percentages of GM organisms. Another group of hamsters, the control group, was fed with pure soya, which was found with great difficulty in Serbia because 95 percent of soya in the world is transgenic.

Concerning the experiment carried out jointly by the National Association for Gene Security and the Institute of Ecological and Evolutional Problems, Dr. Alexei Surov has this to say. “We selected several groups of hamsters, kept them in pairs in cells and gave them ordinary food as always,” says Alexei Surov. “We did not add anything for one group but the other was fed with soya that contained no GM components, while the third group with some content of Genetically Modified Organisms and the fourth one with increased amount of GMO. We monitored their behavior and how they gain weight and when they give birth to their cubs. Originally, everything went smoothly. However, we noticed quite a serious effect when we selected new pairs from their cubs and continued to feed them as before. These pairs’ growth rate was slower and reached their sexual maturity slowly. When we got some of their cubs we formed the new pairs of the third generation. We failed to get cubs from these pairs, which were fed with GM foodstuffs. It was proved that these pairs lost their ability to give birth to their cubs,” Dr. Alexei Surov said.

Another surprise was discovered by scientists in hamsters of the third generation. Hair grew in the mouth of the animals that took part in the experiment. It’s unclear why this happened. The researchers cannot understand why a programme of destruction is launched when animals take GMO foodstuffs. They say that this can be neutralized only by stopping to eat these foods. Consequently, scientists suggest imposing a ban on the use of GM foods until they are tested for their bio-security. The results of Russian scientists coincide with those of their colleagues from France and Austria. For one, when scientist proved that GM maize was harmful for mammals, France banned immediately its production and sale. The scientists who carried out the experiment say that it’s too early to make far-reaching conclusions about the health hazards of the GMO. They insist that there is a need to carry out comprehensive research. They suggest implementing the project, “Safety Gene Technology” at the innovation centre, “Skolkovo” which is being set up near Moscow. Continue reading »

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Mar 15

It all began with the ruling that a corporation is legally a ‘person’, which undermined the constitution and was dead wrong.

Then in another case (1980 Diamond v. Chakrabarty) those idiot supreme court judges ruled that it is OK to patent life forms, were before life forms were considered a part of nature and were not patentable.

This ruling lead to corporations patenting the genes of everything they can think of, that could later on bring them profit.


hugh-grant-chief-executive-officer-of-monsanto
Hugh Grant, chief executive officer of Monsanto Co., speaks during an interview in Chicago, Illinois, on Jan. 8, 2010. Photographer: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg

March 12 (Bloomberg) — Monsanto Co., facing antitrust probes into its genetically modified seeds, may benefit from previous court rulings in which intellectual property rights trumped competition concerns, antitrust lawyers say.

The Department of Justice and seven state attorneys general are investigating whether the world’s largest seed company is using gene licenses to keep competing technologies off the market. At issue is how the St. Louis-based company sells and licenses its patented trait that allows farmers to kill weeds with Roundup herbicide while leaving crops unharmed. The company’s Roundup Ready gene was in 93 percent of U.S. soybeans last year.

“Justice is clearly trying every way it can to see whether Monsanto is exceeding its rights under the patent,” said James Weiss, a Washington-based attorney at K&L Gates LLP who helped defend Microsoft Corp. against a federal antitrust probe. “At the end of the day, they may not be able to do much with it because of the scope of those patents. In almost all the cases, the courts come out on the side of intellectual property.” Continue reading »

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Aug 18

monsantoland

- Monsanto lobbyists to be placed in charge of food safety by Obama
- US Association of Physicians calls for Moratorium on GMO Foods
- Greenpeace: No need for condoms – GE corn can do the job
- Austrian Government Study Confirms Genetically Modified (GM) Crops Threaten Human Fertility and Health Safety

- The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see.
-
Life running out of control – Genetically Modified Organisms
- At stake is no less than control of the world’s food supply.
- BIODIVERSITY: Privatisation Making Seeds Themselves Infertile
- Biotech giants demand a high price for saving the planet
- Exposed: the great GM crops myth:
The biggest study of its kind ever conducted – the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development – concluded that GM was not the answer to world hunger.

Professor Bob Watson, the director of the study and chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when asked if GM could solve world hunger, said: “The simple answer is no.”

GM food is all about profit and it kills you.


Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) — Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed maker, plans to charge as much as 42 percent more for new genetically modified seeds next year than older offerings because they increase farmers’ output.

Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans will cost farmers an average of $74 an acre in 2010, and original Roundup Ready soybeans will cost $52 an acre, St. Louis-based Monsanto said today in presentations on its Web site. SmartStax corn seeds, developed with Dow Chemical Co., will cost $130 an acre, 17 percent more than the YieldGard triple-stack seeds they will replace.

“Our pricing has the flexibility built in to ensure the grower captures the greatest return from his seed investment, irrespective of market volatility,” Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant said today in a statement.

Continue reading »

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May 31

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has just issued a call for an immediate moratorium on Genetically Manipulated (GMO) Foods.

monsanto1

In a just-released position paper on GMO foods, the AAEM states that ‘GM foods pose a serious health risk’ and calls for a moratorium on GMO foods. Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes ‘there is more than a casual association between GMO foods and adverse health effects’ and that ‘GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.’ The report is a devastating blow to the multibillion dollar international agribusiness industry, most especially to Monsanto Corporation, the world’s leading purveyor of GMO seeds and related herbicides.

In a press release dated May 19, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, which describes itself as ‘an international association of physicians and other professionals dedicated to addressing the clinical aspects of environmental health,’ called immediately for the following emergency measures to be taken regarding human consumption of GMO foods:

* A moratorium on GMO food; implementation of immediate long term safety testing and labelling of GMO food.

* Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community and the public to avoid GMO foods.

* Physicians to consider the role of GMO foods in their patients’ disease processes.

* More independent long term scientific studies to begin gathering data to investigate the role of GMO foods on human health.

The AAEM chairperson, Dr Amy Dean notes that ‘Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients’ and the public’s health.’ The President of the AAEM, Dr Jennifer Armstrong stressed that ‘Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions. The most common foods in North America which are consumed that are GMO are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil.’ The AAEM’s position paper on Genetically Modified foods can be found at http:aaemonline.org.

Related information:
- Exposed: the great GM crops myth
- The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see
- At stake is no less than control of the world’s food supply.

The paper further states that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) technology ‘abrogates natural reproductive processes, selection occurs at the single cell level, the procedure is highly mutagenic and routinely breeches genera barriers, and the technique has only been used commercially for 10 years.’

The AAEM paper further states, ’several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signalling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.’

Continue reading »

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Nov 26

Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) — Food prices will rise next year, prompting a revival of protectionism from food-growing nations and risking a renewed bout of rioting, according to Jochen Hitzfeld, an analyst at UniCredit SpA in Munich.

“Agricultural commodities will outperform the broad commodity indices in 2009,” Hitzfeld wrote in a research note this week. “If key crop-producing countries then impose export bans again and speculators drive up prices via physical stockpiling and futures contracts, new food unrest is even conceivable in the second half of 2009.”

The CHART OF THE DAY shows food prices for the past 10 years as measured by an index compiled by UBS AG and Bloomberg that tracks at least 13 foodstuffs, including wheat, soybeans, sugar, cocoa and coffee. The index has declined 35 percent since peaking in July.

“The prices of many agricultural commodities are now clearly below their production costs,” Hitzfeld wrote. “We expect the coming year to bring a cutback in area under cultivation as well as a decline in the yield per hectare.”

Continue reading »

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Oct 19


CASH CROP: Soybeans are harvested at a farm in Brazil. The record prices for soybeans and other commodities have fallen, spurring anxiety

Once confident that soaring demand would guarantee high prices for goods such as soybeans, beef and minerals, Argentina, Brazil and other countries are feeling the effects of tightening credit.

BUENOS AIRES — The abrupt end of the worldwide commodities boom has stunned Latin American nations that had bet the farm on the idea that raw materials were a ticket to boundless prosperity in the globalized economy.

A galloping sense of insecurity has replaced the swaggering confidence that insatiable demand would keep prices up for products such as soybeans, copper, wheat and coffee. But commodities have tumbled in value in the wake of the financial meltdown.

Continue reading »

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Sep 13

(Updates with closing grain prices; additional analyst comments)

CHICAGO -(Dow Jones)- The U.S. Department of Agriculture Friday cut its projections for 2008 U.S. corn and soybean production, keeping supplies of the commodities tight and helping lift grain prices.

The reduction in crop size, which was the result of poor growing weather in August, could be the start of a trend, especially because the crops were already lagging developmentally because of delayed planting and spring floods in parts of the Midwest, grain analysts warned.

The USDA estimates U.S. 2008 corn production at 12.072 billion bushels, down 216 million from the agency’s August estimate. The soybean crop is expected to come in at 2.934 billion bushels, down 39 million bushels from last month’s forecast. In both cases, the agency said, weather during August lowered the average yield for each crop, thereby lowering total production.

Continue reading »

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Jul 12

China has said it must urgently step up the development of genetically modified crops as it faces mounting challenges to feed its 1.3 billion people due to shrinking arable land and climate change.

Newly-approved plans aim to cultivate high-yielding and pest-resistant genetically modified species, the State Council, or cabinet, said in a statement posted on its website late Wednesday

At a meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao, Chinese leaders said the plans were “of strategic significance” in the country’s drive to make its agricultural sector more efficient and competitive internationally, the statement said.

“Departments must fully understand the importance and urgency of this significant project, further improve the programme and waste no time to carry it out,” it said.

It gave no details on which crops should be developed, but analysts said the plans were likely to focus on developing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, including corn and rice.

China has become a major producer of genetically modified cotton and vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes, but it has yet to begin large-scale production of genetically modified rice, corn and soybeans.

Continue reading »

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Jun 29

Related articles:
- The U.S. Has No Remaining Grain Reserves
- Floods wipe out US crops
- Nine meals from anarchy – how Britain is facing a very real food crisis
- Time to Stockpile Food?
- Food Riots are Coming to the U.S.
- UN alert: One-fourth of world’s wheat at risk from new fungus
- THE FOUR HORSEMEN APPROACH – FAMINE IS IN THE AIR

The meat prices will very soon go through the roof too, because the livestock is fed with corn, soybeans and hay. And the prices will continue to rise because of accelerating inflation, the missing bees, flooding and more natural disasters coming. – The Infinite Unknown
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Source: Cattle Network

May

May

Percent

Meat & Dairy

Unit

2007

2008

Change

Ground Chuck Lb 2.766 2.798 1.16%
Ground Beef Lb 2.307 2.313 0.26%
Steak Round, Choice Lb 4.134 4.178 1.06%
Bacon, Sliced Lb 3.651 3.637 -0.38%
Pork Chops Lb 3.194 3.268 2.32%
Chicken Breast Lb 2.312 2.392 3.46%
Turkey, Frozen Lb 1.146 1.258 9.77%
Eggs, Grade A Doz 1.504 1.930 28.32%
Milk, Fresh Gal 3.259 3.760 15.37%
Cheddar Cheese Lb 3.976 4.397 10.59%
Source: ERS/USDA – Retail Prices

Field Crops

Unit

2007

2008

Change

Barley Bu $3.12 $4.76 52.56%
Beans, Dry Edible Cwt $3.08 $5.06 64.29%
Corn Bu $3.49 $5.12 46.70%
Cotton Lb $0.44 $0.61 37.95%
Flaxseed Bu $7.08 $16.60 134.46%
Hay Ton $138.00 $166.00 20.29%
Lentils Cwt $13.20 $32.70 147.73%
Oats Bu $2.49 $3.46 38.96%
Peanuts Lb $0.18 $0.20 12.29%
Peas, Dry Edible Cwt $10.10 $16.40 62.38%
Potatoes Cwt $7.95 $9.21 15.85%
Rice, Rough Cwt $10.00 $15.00 50.00%
Sorghum Cwt $6.49 $9.18 41.45%
Soybeans Bu $7.12 $12.30 72.75%
Sunflower Cwt $16.60 $27.40 65.06%
Wheat Bu $4.88 $8.80 80.33%
Source: USDA/NASS – Ag Prices Received

May

May

Percent

Fruits

Unit

2007

2008

Change

Apples Lb $0.27 $0.34 26.02%
Grapefruit Box $4.49 $5.12 14.03%
Lemons Box $8.14 $20.77 155.16%
Oranges Box $11.12 $6.95 -37.50%
Peaches Ton $820.00 $948.00 15.61%
Pears Ton $651.00 $525.00 -19.35%
Strawberries Cwt $68.60 $66.70 -2.77%
Tangerines Box $17.01 $5.98 -64.84%
Source: USDA/NASS – Ag Prices Received

May

May

Percent

Vegetables

Unit

2007

2008

Change

Asparagus Cwt $91.90 $99.80 8.60%
Broccoli Cwt $26.70 $27.30 2.25%
Carrots Cwt $32.00 $25.50 -20.31%
Cauliflower Cwt $24.90 $37.40 50.20%
Celery Cwt $18.30 $37.70 106.01%
Cucumbers Cwt $28.50 $17.50 -38.60%
Lettuce Cwt $13.60 $16.80 23.53%
Onions Cwt $24.20 $31.70 30.99%
Snap Beans Cwt $38.80 $39.60 2.06%
Sweet Corn Cwt $21.40 $23.10 7.94%
Tomatoes Cwt $35.60 $40.40 13.48%
Source: USDA/NASS – Ag Prices Received
Prepared By: Rob Cook, rob@cattlenetwork.com

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Jun 19

The best commentary I could offer is a link to a previous story:

World’s Largest Maker of Crop Nutrients: Famines May Occur Without Record Harvests

But I’ll ramble on a bit more about this, anyway.

As soon as I became aware of the flooding situation in the American Midwest, I posted the story with the EMERGENCY prefix on the title. Just so we’re clear, when I write EMERGENCY at the beginning of a post title, this is my way of indicating that the situation is as serious as it gets. It means that I feel as though everyone reading should consider taking immediate evasive action. All the jawboning about conspiracy, how things could have been, how things should be, etc. are behind us now. You know, EMERGENCY, act fast, eyes wide, nostrils flared, etc.

While the food supply situation has skated along a knife edge so far this year, with higher prices and many countries experiencing food riots, widespread famine did not take hold. In an incredible move, the Japanese quietly eased rice shortages by releasing portions of their imported rice stockpiles-from giant warehouses in Tokyo-into the system; a welcome but one off blip in the big picture. What happens next time?

Now, this growing season, when yields need to be at record levels to avert disaster, what do we find? Floods or droughts in several of the breadbaskets of the world.

Whatever your plans are, I hope that you’re ready to execute them (or, better yet, are executing them). I’m pretty sure that most people have done nothing, and I don’t know why this continues to amaze me.

How can so many people, even those who should know better, be content to hit the wall without doing anything at all to change course? This includes my own family, who lives in Southern California.

I view Southern California as one of the most dangerous death traps in the world. Since it’s such an important focus of economic activity, though, I like to keep tabs on herd activity there, just for my own situational awareness. I can’t get a meaningful response from my dad-who thinks that traffic jams everywhere in the region and at all times of the day and night represent ‘progress’-I emailed someone there who’s about to flee to a country in Northern Europe. I asked if there was even a subtle sense of panic setting in with regard to the food and fuel prices. Here is part of the response I received:

I have noticed that most people don’t even have instinct enough to panic and hoard, and they wouldn’t know *what* to hoard. They don’t cook, they don’t know what a ‘staple’ means. A young woman in my training last week brought animal crackers and cheese ruffles for breakfast, and a box of Cheezits and Coke Zero for lunch. I asked her mockingly if she’d tried fruit or vegetables, she said she couldn’t afford them. I once saw a woman behind me at Ralphs with food stamps, and she was buying cottage cheese, dry pinto beans, and wheat bread, and told her kid to put the Doritos back. If you don’t have that kind of sense to begin with, the current situation is not going to give it to you.

We’re now well into a phase where system maintenance depends on the inability of the herd to grasp the nature of the immanent threat. “Yes, Kevin,” you say. “Same as it ever was.”

I don’t think so. The food situation is far off the radar screens of Joe Average. It only becomes a problem after it’s too late to do anything substantive to ameliorate conditions. We’ve already seen food riots, armed escorts for grain deliveries, rationing, sharply higher prices. And still, I’m mostly noticing yawns and drugged gurgles from the herd. Meanwhile, the die is all but cast on this year’s lower crop yields.

If the herd had any idea of what was coming, this show would be over inside of 24 hours. You might be sick of reading this on Cryptogon, but, it’s worth repeating: Use your time wisely.

Via: Financial Times:

Consumers were warned to expect even sharper increases in global food prices after US officials said that some of the country’s best farmland was facing its worst flooding for 15 years.

Agriculture officials and traders said the damage could push up worldwide corn and soyabean prices, which have spiralled in recent days as floods have swamped crops in parts of Iowa, the US’s biggest corn-producing state.

The warning comes at a time when high food prices are already sparking protests across the developing world.

Corn futures in Chicago this week rose to record highs of more than $8 a bushel on fears that up to 5m acres of the crop could be lost, while soyabean prices hit a record of $15.93 a bushel.

Continue reading »

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Jun 19

The swollen Mississippi River ran over the top of at least 12 more levees on Wednesday, as floodwaters swallowed up more U.S. farmland, adding to billion-dollar losses and feeding global food inflation fears.

Volunteers and aid workers were piling sandbags up and down the most important U.S. inland waterway to try to protect more levees and thousands of acres of prime crop land threatened as the river’s crest moves south after last week’s torrential rains.

About 10 levees were breached earlier this week, bringing the total to 22 on Wednesday. The levee breaches lowered the river level by letting water spill onto the surrounding land.

“Their misfortune had been our fortune. I’d rather it hadn’t come at the expense of others. But it is what it is,” said Steve Cirinna of Iowa’s Lee County Emergency Management Agency. Continue reading »

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Jun 13

CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. corn futures soared more than 4 percent to a fresh record high for the fifth consecutive trading session on Wednesday as flooding expanded in the U.S. Midwest, harming the 2008 corn crop.

“There’s still no indication that we’re getting ready to change this pattern. Concerns continue from planting issues to emergence to crop development,” Mike Palmerino, forecaster for DTN Meteorlogix, said.

Corn prices on the Chicago Board of Trade have surged 80 percent over the past year, with nearly 17 percent of that tacked on just this month.

Soybeans surged 3 percent and wheat leaped nearly 5 percent as those markets followed corn, but the historic rainfall and flooding in the United States also were beginning to hurt soy and wheat crop prospects.

“There is definitely concern. There is way too much water and, even if it is drier next week, it won’t matter now. It’s too late to plant corn and even bean yields are being affected,” Vic Lespinasse, an analyst for GrainAnalyst.com, said.

Corn prices rallied the daily trading limit of 30 cents per bushel early in the session and the new-crop July 2009 contract soared to a record $7.56-1/4, surpassing the record of $7.35 set in during Asian trading hours.

By midday, U.S. corn for July 2008 delivery was locked up the 30-cent limit at $7.03-1/4 per bushel.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week slashed 5 bushels per acre from its estimate for U.S. corn yields because of excessive rainfall and flooding in key corn states, including top producers Illinois and Iowa.

Now there are ideas that yields and corn acreage will fall further because it keeps raining. This season has come the closest to the historic flood in summer 1993.

“That’s the year everyone is looking at as a comparison,” Palmerino said.

That summer the U.S. Midwest suffered from heavy flooding after weeks of rain that eventually caused the Mississippi River, a major North American river and grain shipping artery, to flood, washing out surrounding corn and soybean fields.

“The size of the corn crop is coming down, and maybe the wheat crop too,” said Chicago cash merchant Glenn Hollander of Hollander-Feuerhaken.

U.S. wheat markets leaped to keep up with corn and now the maturing winter wheat crop is being threatened by the rains.

Wheat for July delivery was up 58 cents per bushel at $8.67 per bushel at midday, nearing its 60-cent trading limit.

European grain markets followed the trends at the CBOT, extending their early rally. In Paris, the benchmark November wheat contract settled up 12.75 euros, or 6.6 percent, at 205 euros a tonne, after hitting 205.25 euros, its highest level since April 17.

“If you look at corn prices, wheat can only rise. We can’t have wheat cheaper than corn,” a European trader said.

U.S. traders said the excessive wet weather in the U.S. crop region was the main driver of the markets, but they also tied some of the gains to a strong rebound in crude oil and gold as the dollar fell.

“More rain is exactly what we don’t need, and today we have the added support from crude oil being up,” Lespinasse said.

U.S. soyoil, a key resource for the biodiesel industry, soared following crude oil, and soybean futures held to their own limit gains.

U.S. soy for July delivery was up its limit of 70 cents at $15.16-1/2 per bushel.

(Additional reporting by Christine Stebbins in Chicago and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris; Editing by Walter Bagley)

By Sam Nelson
Wed Jun 11, 1:20 PM ET

Source: Reuters

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May 09

The global free market for food and energy is facing its biggest threat in decades as a host of countries push through draconian measures to hold down prices, raising fears of a new “resource nationalism” that could endanger world food security.


Somali’s demonstrate against high food prices in the capital Mogadishu. At least two people were killed in clashes

India shocked the markets yesterday by suspending trading in futures contracts for a range of farm products in a bid to clamp down on alleged speculators and curb inflation, now running at 7.6pc.

The country’s Forward Markets Commission said contracts for soybean oil, chana (chickpeas), potatoes, and rubber had been banned for four months, even though a report by the Indian parliament last month concluded that soaring food costs had almost nothing to do with the futures contracts. Traders in Mumbai slammed the ban as an act of brazen political populism.

The move has been seen as a concession to India’s Communist MPs – key allies of premier Manmohan Singh – who want a full-fledged ban on futures trading in sugar, cooking oil, and grains.

As food and fuel riots spread across the world, a string of governments have resorted to steps that menace the free flow of food and key commodities. Argentina has banned beef exports, while Egypt and India have stopped shipments of rice.

Kazakhstan has prohibited wheat exports. Russia has slapped a 40pc export duty on shipments, and Pakistan a 35pc duty.

China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philipines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam have all imposed export controls or forms of rationing to ease the crisis.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that this lurch towards national controls is becoming a threat to the open global system we all take for granted. “If not handled properly, this crisis could result in a cascade of others and affect political security around the world,” he said.

A new report by UBS says the scramble for scarce raw materials is turning ever more political, with ominous implications for ill-endowed societies that rely on imports.

“The bottom line is that countries with resources, particularly in food and energy are becoming more protective of these resources,” it said.

(I know I am repeating myself and I know that many are already well prepared. This is for the ones that are not:
Store food and water “NOW”. Do this in a relaxed manner because your brain shuts down when you are under stress and in survival mode. – The Infinite Unknown)

Continue reading »

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May 05

For decades, wheat was king on the Great Plains and prices were low everywhere. Those days are over.

At Stephen Fleishman’s busy Bethesda shop, the era of the 95-cent bagel is coming to an end.

Breaking the dollar barrier “scares me,” said the Bronx-born owner of Bethesda Bagels. But with 100-pound bags of North Dakota flour now above $50 — more than double what they were a few months ago — he sees no alternative to a hefty increase in the price of his signature product, a bagel made by hand in the back of the store.

I’ve never seen anything like this in 20 years,” he said. “It’s a nightmare.”

Fleishman and his customers are hardly alone. Across America, turmoil in the world wheat markets has sent prices of bread, pasta, noodles, pizza, pastry and bagels skittering upward, bringing protests from consumers.

But underlying this food inflation are changes that are transforming U.S. agriculture and making a return to the long era of cheap wheat products doubtful at best.

Half a continent away, in the North Dakota country that grows the high-quality wheats used in Fleishman’s bagels, many farmers are cutting back on growing wheat in favor of more profitable, less disease-prone corn and soybeans for ethanol refineries and Asian consumers.

“Wheat was king once,” said David Braaten, whose Norwegian immigrant grandparents built their Kindred, N.D., farm around wheat a century ago. “Now I just don’t want to grow it. It’s not a consistent crop.”

In the 1980s, more than half the farm’s acres were wheat. This year only one in 10 will be, and 40 percent will go to soybeans. Braaten and other farmers are considering investing in a $180 million plant to turn the beans into animal feed and cooking oil, both now in strong demand in China. And to stress his hopes for ethanol, his business card shows a sketch of a fuel pump. Continue reading »

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May 04

Genetic modification actually cuts the productivity of crops, an authoritative new study shows, undermining repeated claims that a switch to the controversial technology is needed to solve the growing world food crisis.

The study – carried out over the past three years at the University of Kansas in the US grain belt – has found that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, contradicting assertions by advocates of the technology that it increases yields.

Professor Barney Gordon, of the university’s department of agronomy, said he started the research – reported in the journal Better Crops – because many farmers who had changed over to the GM crop had “noticed that yields are not as high as expected even under optimal conditions”. He added: “People were asking the question ‘how come I don’t get as high a yield as I used to?’”

He grew a Monsanto GM soybean and an almost identical conventional variety in the same field. The modified crop produced only 70 bushels of grain per acre, compared with 77 bushels from the non-GM one.

The GM crop – engineered to resist Monsanto’s own weedkiller, Roundup – recovered only when he added extra manganese, leading to suggestions that the modification hindered the crop’s take-up of the essential element from the soil. Even with the addition it brought the GM soya’s yield to equal that of the conventional one, rather than surpassing it.

The new study confirms earlier research at the University of Nebraska, which found that another Monsanto GM soya produced 6 per cent less than its closest conventional relative, and 11 per cent less than the best non-GM soya available.

The Nebraska study suggested that two factors are at work. First, it takes time to modify a plant and, while this is being done, better conventional ones are being developed. This is acknowledged even by the fervently pro-GM US Department of Agriculture, which has admitted that the time lag could lead to a “decrease” in yields.

But the fact that GM crops did worse than their near-identical non-GM counterparts suggest that a second factor is also at work, and that the very process of modification depresses productivity. The new Kansas study both confirms this and suggests how it is happening.

A similar situation seems to have happened with GM cotton in the US, where the total US crop declined even as GM technology took over. (See graphic above.)

Monsanto said yesterday that it was surprised by the extent of the decline found by the Kansas study, but not by the fact that the yields had dropped. It said that the soya had not been engineered to increase yields, and that it was now developing one that would.

Critics doubt whether the company will achieve this, saying that it requires more complex modification. And Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington – and who was one of the first to predict the current food crisis – said that the physiology of plants was now reaching the limits of the productivity that could be achieved.

A former champion crop grower himself, he drew the comparison with human runners. Since Roger Bannister ran the first four-minute mile more than 50 years ago, the best time has improved only modestly . “Despite all the advances in training, no one contemplates a three-minute mile.”

Last week the biggest study of its kind ever conducted – the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development – concluded that GM was not the answer to world hunger.

Professor Bob Watson, the director of the study and chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when asked if GM could solve world hunger, said: “The simple answer is no.”

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Sunday, 20 April 2008

Source: The Independent

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Apr 30

April 28 (Bloomberg) — As farmers confront mounting costs and riots erupt from Haiti to Egypt over food, Garry Niemeyer is paying the price for Wall Street’s speculation in grain markets.

Commodity-index funds control a record 4.51 billion bushels of corn, wheat and soybeans through Chicago Board of Trade futures, equal to half the amount held in U.S. silos on March 1. The holdings jumped 29 percent in the past year as investors bought grain contracts seeking better returns than stocks or bonds. The buying sent crop prices and volatility to records and boosted the cost for growers and processors to manage risk.

Niemeyer, who farms 2,200 acres in Auburn, Illinois, won’t use futures to protect the value of the crop he will harvest in October. With corn at $5.9075 a bushel, up from $3.88 last year, he says the contracts are too costly and risky. Investors want corn so much that last month they paid 55 cents a bushel more than grain handlers, the biggest premium since 1999. Continue reading »

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Apr 22

A farmer harvests soy beans on the outskirts of Gualeguaychu, north of Buenos Aires.(Andres Stapff/Reuters)

Soaring food prices and global grain shortages are bringing new pressures on governments, food companies and consumers to relax their longstanding resistance to genetically engineered crops.

In Japan and South Korea, some manufacturers for the first time have begun buying genetically engineered corn for use in soft drinks, snacks and other foods. Until now, to avoid consumer backlash, the companies have paid extra to buy conventionally grown corn. But with prices having tripled in two years, it has become too expensive to be so finicky.

“We cannot afford it,” said a corn buyer at Kato Kagaku, a Japanese maker of corn starch and corn syrup.

In the United States, wheat growers and marketers, once hesitant about adopting biotechnology because they feared losing export sales, are now warming to it as a way to bolster supplies. Genetically modified crops contain genes from other organisms to make the plants resistance to insects, herbicides or disease. Opponents continue to worry that such crops have not been studied enough and that they might pose risks to health and the environment.

(Genetically modified crops have been studied long enough to know that GM food weakens the immune system within days, increases the cancer risk dramatically etc. – The Infinite Unknown) Continue reading »

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Apr 06
LONDON – Staple food prices will rise for some years, but should eventually fall to historical averages as harvests increase, biofuel company executives said on Thursday.

Soaring demand for better quality food from rapidly industrializing emerging markets such as China, supply shortages, increased demand for biofuels, and a surging appetite for food commodities by investment funds, have combined to push prices of basic foods higher and higher in recent months.

Stephane Delodder, managing partner of Netherlands-based consultancy iFuel Corporate Advisory, told a conference the problem of rising food prices would persist for some years.

Market forces should eventually help rebalance supply and demand, especially in markets which are not highly regulated, but this could take some time.

“(It could be) a few years at most before the situation returns to normal,” Delodder said.

He said grains and oilseed futures markets, which have corrected down recently after meteoric rises, may already be signaling that supply will rise as farmers raise plantings. Continue reading »

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Apr 06
Governments across the developing world are scrambling to boost farm imports and restrict exports in an attempt to forestall rising food prices and social unrest.

Saudi Arabia cut import taxes across a range of food products on Tuesday, slashing its wheat tariff from 25 per cent to zero and reducing tariffs on poultry, dairy produce and vegetable oils.

On Monday, India scrapped tariffs on edible oil and maize and banned exports of all rice except the high-value basmati variety, while Vietnam, the world’s third biggest rice exporter, said it would cut rice exports by 11 per cent this year.

The moves mark a rapid shift away from protecting farmers, who are generally the beneficiaries of food import tariffs, towards cushioning consumers from food shortages and rising prices. Continue reading »

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Apr 05

Monsanto already dominates America’s food chain with its genetically modified seeds. Now it has targeted milk production. Just as frightening as the corporation’s tactics-ruthless legal battles against small farmers-is its decades-long history of toxic contamination.

No thanks: An anti-Monsanto crop circle made by farmers and volunteers in the Philippines.
By Melvyn Calderon/Greenpeace HO/A.P. Images.

Gary Rinehart clearly remembers the summer day in 2002 when the stranger walked in and issued his threat. Rinehart was behind the counter of the Square Deal, his “old-time country store,” as he calls it, on the fading town square of Eagleville, Missouri, a tiny farm community 100 miles north of Kansas City.

The Square Deal is a fixture in Eagleville, a place where farmers and townspeople can go for lightbulbs, greeting cards, hunting gear, ice cream, aspirin, and dozens of other small items without having to drive to a big-box store in Bethany, the county seat, 15 miles down Interstate 35.

Everyone knows Rinehart, who was born and raised in the area and runs one of Eagleville’s few surviving businesses. The stranger came up to the counter and asked for him by name.

“Well, that’s me,” said Rinehart.

As Rinehart would recall, the man began verbally attacking him, saying he had proof that Rinehart had planted Monsanto’s genetically modified (G.M.) soybeans in violation of the company’s patent. Better come clean and settle with Monsanto, Rinehart says the man told him-or face the consequences.

Rinehart was incredulous, listening to the words as puzzled customers and employees looked on. Like many others in rural America, Rinehart knew of Monsanto’s fierce reputation for enforcing its patents and suing anyone who allegedly violated them. But Rinehart wasn’t a farmer. He wasn’t a seed dealer. He hadn’t planted any seeds or sold any seeds. He owned a small-a really small-country store in a town of 350 people. He was angry that somebody could just barge into the store and embarrass him in front of everyone. “It made me and my business look bad,” he says. Rinehart says he told the intruder, “You got the wrong guy.”

When the stranger persisted, Rinehart showed him the door. On the way out the man kept making threats. Rinehart says he can’t remember the exact words, but they were to the effect of: “Monsanto is big. You can’t win. We will get you. You will pay.” 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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Feb 21


Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) — Grain farmers will need to harvest record crops every year to meet increasing global food demand and avoid famine, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. Chief Executive Officer William Doyle said.

People and livestock are consuming more grain than ever, draining world inventories and increasing the likelihood of shortages, Doyle said yesterday in an interview on Bloomberg Television. Global grain stockpiles fell to about 53 days of supply last year, the lowest level since record-keeping began in 1960, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“If you had any major upset where you didn’t have a crop in a major growing agricultural region this year, I believe you’d see famine,” Doyle, 57, said in New York.

Potash, the world’s largest maker of crop nutrients, has more than doubled in market value in the past year as record crop prices allowed farmers to spend more on fertilizer to boost yields. The company has more than doubled net income in the past two years to $1.1 billion and expects gross profit from potash to expand to $8 billion within five years from $912 million in 2007. Potash is a form of potassium that helps plants grow.

Continue reading »

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