Archive for the 'food' Category

Raj Patel on America’s Growing Hunger Crisis and the UN Summit to Fight Hunger in Rome

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

From Democracy Now!: “More than 49 million Americans—or one in seven—struggled to find enough to eat last year, according to a report from the US Department of Agriculture released Monday. That’s the highest total since the federal government began keeping track of food insecurity. Meanwhile, leaders from most of the world are gathered in Rome to tackle hunger on a global scale at the UN World Food Summit, but leaders of the world’s richest countries were largely absent from the summit. We speak with Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System.”

food speculation, food riots, and conditional feeding

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Here are some more links about the current global food crisis. We need to keep watching the World Bank on the matter. On the 29th of April World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick announced that “a New Deal must embrace a short, medium and long-term response: support for safety nets such as school feeding, food for work, and conditional cash transfer programs; increased agricultural production; a better understanding of the impact of biofuels and action on the trade front to reduce distorting subsidies, and trade barriers.” In short, conditional feeding. He also called for Sovereign Wealth Funds to use a small percentage of their assets to provide the cash for this new deal. As in the late 1970s the petrodollar were used to fund third world debt to “help their development”, so now, the accumulated surplus which followed the last round of global accumulation can serve the next round of global restructuring.

Here are also three links that highlight speculation as the main reason for the recent climb in food prices.

A short extract from the newstatesman article will do here do make the point:

“Conventional explanations for the food crisis range from climate change to dietary change in China, from global overpopulation to the switch of agricultural production to biofuels. These long-term factors are important but they are not the real reasons why food prices have doubled or why India is rationing rice or why British farmers are killing pigs for which they can’t afford feedstocks. It’s the credit crisis.
This latest food emergency has developed in an incredibly short space of time - essentially over the past 18 months. The reason for food “shortages“ is speculation in commodity futures following the collapse of the financial derivatives markets. Desperate for quick returns, dealers are taking trillions of dollars out of equities and mortgage bonds and ploughing them into food and raw materials. It’s called the “commodities super-cycle“ on Wall Street, and it is likely to cause starvation on an epic scale.”

What does need to be explored is the link between the alternating of speculation waves (the latest of which is on food prices) and different phases of global restructuring. Also, I am curious, how many pension funds hold commodities futures in their assets?

Here are some other links I got from the site listed above:

Overview: FAO, World Food Situation:
Overview: Financial Times, “The global food crisis”, interactive map, last updated 21 April 2008:
Overview: Stefan Steinberg, “Financial speculators reap profits from global hunger”, Global Research, Centre for Research on Globalisation, Montreal, 24 April 2008.
Overview: Confédération Paysanne, “Les révoltes de la faim dans les pays du Sud : l’aboutissement logique de choix économiques et politiques désastreux”, Press release, 18 April 2008: (French only)
Structural Adjustment Programmes: “UNCTAD official blames food crisis on structural adjustment programme,” This Day, Lagos, 23 April 2008:
Food sovereignty: and
Agrofuels: GRAIN, Agrofuels special issues, Seedling, July 2007,
Rice in the Philippines: GRAIN, Philippines and beyond: rice crisis – reaping the ‘fruit’ of market capitalism, Hybrid rice blog, 22 April 2008,

. . . food riots . . .energy. . .climate change. . .

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

The extract below says it all . . .the video at the Democracy Now! site explains it: among other things, the countries that have liberalised most are those in which global food price hikes are hurting most . . .

AMY GOODMAN: For our last segment, we look at the dramatic rise in global food prices, adding a new level of danger to the crisis of world hunger. In Africa, food riots have swept across the continent, with recent protests in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Senegal. In most of West Africa, the price of food has risen by 50 percent—in Sierra Leone, 300 percent. Last week, African finance ministers warned the rise in international food prices “poses significant threats to Africa’s growth, peace and security.” Other protests have been held this past week in countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, Egypt. In Haiti, at least five people have died in riots over 50 percent price hikes for rice, beans and fruit since last year. The demonstrations continued Monday outside the national palace in Port-au-Prince.

HAITIAN DEMONSTRATOR: We are protesting voluntarily. It is not for money. The parliament is responsible for all of this. All we ask for is for the government to cut down on prices of food.

The other oil shock

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

palmoil.jpgThis good article from the International Herald Tribune links it all: peak oil and biofuel, planterary urbanization and growth in meat consumption for middle classes, increase in food prices, especially hurting the poor, and spreading food riots across the globe.

The other oil shock: Vegetable oil prices soar (more…)

Aquaculture and cancer

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

fishfarming.jpgvideo_button_white_dred.gifThis article from the International Herald Tribune argues that Chinese fish farmers face polluted waters. There are 10 million fish farmers in China who produce for both domestic and export markets. Much of Chinese fish export goes to Japan and East Asia, followed by USA and Europe. 70% of world farmed seafood comes from China, mostly grown inland. So much is the intensity of aquaculture along the coast of China, that not only fish farming pollutes fresh water sources and the surrounding land (a classical example of modern enclosures for the traditional peasantry and local communities — not discussed by this article) but fish farmers are polluting each other ponds. The pollutants of fish and shrimp exports are linked to cancer. Look at this video from The New York Times which pictures fish farmers working in their surrounding, and discusses the reasons why Chinese fish exports are polluted. The colour of the water in these video clips is not the most attractive! Also, check this slide show always from the New York Times for a visual ideaof the work involved in fish farming.

Happy meals, children and exploitation

Friday, September 29th, 2006

We eat crap because it is cheap, and “taste good”, we make our children to eat crap, because it is cheap, they give them toys and it “taste good”, somewhere . . . someone . . .along the line, must live a crap life . . . here it is. (more…)

e pluribus unum: on a US motto

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

Apparently the origin of the motto is a poem about a cheese, garlic and herb sauce recipee attirbuted to Virgil. The poem — roughly translated as “the salad” — actually helps me to understand what is good about the E Pluribus Unum motto when applied to a culinary process, and what is so sick about it when applied to a social process. Virgil was celebrating the melting together of the ingredients that gave rise to a proper cheese and garlic sauce ( . .I can relate to that!! in the end, the individual ingredients are gone, what is left is the souce . . . (more…)