tagged w/ Hunger
Adam Yamaguchi, a ravenous sushi consumer since childhood, examines the cost of the world's insatiable appetite for raw fish, namely the Bluefin tuna.
"Sushi to the Slaughter" premieres on Tuesday, July 12 at 9/8c on Current TV.
"Vanguard" is Current TV's no-limits documentary series whose award-winning correspondents put themselves in extraordinary situations to immerse viewers in global issues that have a large social significance. Unlike sound-bite driven reporting, the show's correspondents, Adam Yamaguchi, Christof Putzel and Mariana van Zeller, serve as trusted guides who take viewers on in-depth real life adventures in pursuit of some of the world's most important stories.
For more, go to http://current.com/vanguard.
Current Media, the Peabody-and Emmy Award-winning television and online network founded in 2005 by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, engages viewers with smart, provocative and timely programming -- stories that no one else is telling in ways that no one else is telling them. Current's programming shines a light where others won't dare and boldly explores important subjects -- opening minds, sparking conversations and forming deep connections with its viewers. The channel's audience is comprised of affluent, curious, social and connected adults who crave the kind of entertaining, enlightening, witty and informative programming found on Current's TV and online properties. Current is now available via cable and satellite TV in 75 million households worldwide -- 60 million households in the US -- through distribution partners Comcast (Channel 107); Time Warner ; DirecTV (Channel 358 nationwide); Dish Network (Channel 196 nationwide); Verizon and AT&T. In the UK and Ireland, Current is available on BSkyB (Channel 183) and Virgin Media (Channel 155), and in Italy, Current is available on Sky Italia (Channel 130). Viewers can also find Current online at http://www.current.com.Adam Yamaguchi, a ravenous sushi consumer since childhood, examines the cost of the... more
China is running out of water and can no longer afford to irrigate its northern plains, an expert has warned.
China needs to reduce food production on its dry northern plains or aquifers will diminish to a "dire" level in 30 years, one the country's leading groundwater experts has warned.
Zheng Chunmiao, director of the Water Research Centre at Peking University, said the world's most populous country will have to focus more on demand-side restraint because it is becoming more expensive and difficult to tap finite supplies below the surface.
"The government must adopt a new policy to reduce water consumption," Zheng told the Guardian. "The main thing is to reduce demand. We have relied too much on engineering projects, but the government realises this is not a long-term solution."
Zheng's comments are based on his studies of the aquifers under the North China plain, one of the country's main wheat growing regions. He said the water table is falling at the rate of about a metre a year mainly due to agriculture, which accounts for 60% of demand.
"The water situation in the North China plain does not allow much longer for irrigation," Zheng said. "We need to reduce food production even though it is politically difficult. It would be much more economical to import."
The government will be reluctant to accept such a radical step, which could weaken the country's ability to feed itself. But it may not have a choice.
Over the past 10 years, Zheng estimates the annual water deficit in northern China at 4bn cubic metres. This is increasingly made up from underground sources, which account for 70% of water supplies. Although some aquifers remain 500 metres thick, others are emptying at an alarming rate. This has created depletion cones, the deepest of which is at Hengshui near Xizhuajiang.
Before trimming agricultural production, the government will try to improve usage efficiency. Plans are now being drawn up to measure and centrally manage the remaining resources, which are currently under the control of regional governments that often tend to draw up water unsustainably for the short-term benefit of the local economy.
The Yellow River Conservancy Commission – which has the nation's most advanced river management network – is expected to serve as a model.
"The government is considering a system similar to ours that will collect data on underground water resources and connect it to our Yellow River monitoring system," said Pei Yong, director of the water regulation division. "I think it will start three or four years from now."
Even before this begins, controls on underground water use are slowly being tightened. Well digging – once a lucrative, ubiquitous and poorly regulated business - is already feeling the pinch.
Kaifeng Well Drilling – a company in Henan – charges 100-500 yuan for each metre drilled, but it has recently laid off workers because it gets permission for only two wells a year now, compared to about 30 in the 1980s.
"Business is very bad. Many firms have had to change business," said the director, who only gave his surname, Wang. "The controls are very tight now. You only get permission to drill in areas with severe water shortages."
More at the linkChina is running out of water and can no longer afford to irrigate its northern... more
The worst drought in 60 years in the Horn of Africa has sparked a severe food crisis and high malnutrition rates, with parts of Kenya and Somalia experiencing pre-famine conditions, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
More than 10 million people are now affected in drought-stricken areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda and the situation is deteriorating, it said.
"Two consecutive poor rainy seasons have resulted in one of the driest years since 1950/51 in many pastoral zones," Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told a media briefing.
"There is no likelihood of improvement (in the situation)until 2012," she said.
Food prices have risen substantially in the region, pushing many moderately poor households over the edge, she said.
A U.N. map of food security in the eastern Horn of Africa shows large swathes of central Kenya and Somalia in the "emergency" category, one phase before what the U.N. classifies as catastrophe/famine -- the fifth and worst category.
Child malnutrition rates in the worst affected areas are more than double the emergency threshold of 15 percent and are expected to rise further, Byrs said.
High mortality rates among children are reported, but she had no figures for the toll.
Drought and fighting are driving ever greater numbers of Somalis from their homeland, with more than 20,000 arriving in Kenya in just the past two weeks, the U.N. refuge agency UNHCR said on Friday. It voiced alarm at the dramatic rise, noting the average monthly outflow had been about 10,000 so far this year.
Almost half the Somali children arriving in refugee camps in Ethiopia are malnourished, and those arriving in Kenya are little better, Byrs said.
U.N. humanitarian appeals for Somalia and Kenya, each about $525 million, are barely 50 percent funded, while a $30 million appeal for Djibouti is just 30 percent funded, she said.The worst drought in 60 years in the Horn of Africa has sparked a severe food crisis... more
After a 40% rise in global prices over the past year, droughts and floods threaten to seriously damage this year's harvest
Food prices will soar by as much as 30% over the next 10 years, the United Nations and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have predicted.
Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the OECD, said that any further increase in global food prices, which have risen by 40% over the past year, will have a "devastating" impact on the world's poor and is likely to lead to political unrest, famine and starvation. "People are going to be forced either to eat less or find other sources of income."
The joint UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and OECD report predicted that the cost of cereals is likely to increase by 20% and the price of meat, particularly chicken, may soar by up to 30%.
World food prices are already at a near-record high as droughts and floods threaten to seriously damage this year's harvest. The report said the global harvest is in a "critical" condition and warned that prices will continue to rise until depleted stocks are rebuilt.
More at the link.After a 40% rise in global prices over the past year, droughts and floods threaten to... more
6/15/11 6 more activist arrested in Orlando for Sharing food with the hungry. 2 young children are being served as close to 20 police officers swarm in and arrest the food servers. This brings to total number of arrest for this horrendous crime up to 21 people within a two week time period!
http://www.politicalfailblog.com/2011/06/20-orlando-police-steal-food-from.html6/15/11 6 more activist arrested in Orlando for Sharing food with the hungry. 2 young... more
Starvation! Working or not-inflation-recession... calls for a sacred moment with Jesus Christ. Exclusive gospel channel: http://tinyurl.com/exclusive-gospel-channelStarvation! Working or not-inflation-recession... calls for a sacred moment with Jesus... more
The Argentine government has hitherto been an enthusiastic supporter of the the soy economy (most of which is GM soy), because it has levied export taxes on soybeans that reached a massive 35 per cent in 2010.
But now the Argentine government says it isn't seeing those taxes. It has accused the big four soy traders in Argentina of tax evasion. So perhaps its love affair with GM soy is coming to an end.
Note that all four of the grain traders accused of tax evasion by the Argentine government are members of the corporate greenwash program, the Round Table on Responsible Soy, which certifies GM soy as "responsible".
Argentina accuses world's largest grain traders of huge tax evasion
Grain traders ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Dreyfus deny charges by Argentine government of substantial tax evasion
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 1 June 2011
The world's four largest grain traders, responsible for the vast majority of global corn, soya and wheat trading and processing, have been accused of large-scale tax evasion in a landmark series of cases being brought against them by the Argentinian government.
In an interview with the Guardian, Ricardo Echegaray, the head of Afip, the country's revenue and customs service, has given a detailed account of the charges his department is bringing against ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Dreyfus.
"These companies have gone into criminality," Echegaray said. "2008 was when agricultural commodities prices spiked and was the best year for them in prices, yet we could see that the companies with the biggest sales showed very little profit in this country."
The Guardian has learned from separate sources that Afip is seeking to claim $476m (£290m) for what it says are unpaid tax and duties from Bunge, $252m from Cargill and $140m from Dreyfus. The companies have all denied all the allegations and have said they will defend themselves vigorously.
With the global food system and who controls it under intense scrutiny in recent weeks, thanks to record prices, the legal battle between Afip and the "ABCD four", as they are known, has taken on heightened significance.
Oxfam, in a report earlier this week, warned of spiralling prices and a huge increase in global hunger over the next two decades, and said that corporate concentration in the global food trade was a structural flaw in the system.
Echegaray said he had begun investigating Argentina's large business taxpayers towards the end of 2008, cross-checking information given to his authorities with that from other countries where their exports were destined, by making use of tax information exchange treaties – some of which have been newly signed. He also cross-checked declarations made to Argentinian customs with corporate income tax returns.
He said he had evidence from his detailed inquiry that all four traders had submitted false declarations of sales and routed profits through tax havens or their headquarters, in contravention of Argentinian tax law.
He also alleged they had on occasion used phantom firms to buy grain. He further alleged that they had inflated costs in Argentina to reduce taxable profits or claim tax credits there.
The Afip inquiry has focused on the traders' sales to Uruguay, among other low-tax jurisdictions.
Echegaray said Bunge had set up an office in the tax-free zone of Montevideo through which it began routing its exports after 2007, from which point it declared no gains in Argentina. He alleged his checks had revealed that Bunge employed only a handful of people in Uruguay's capital, and that it had no real imports or exports from that office other than small items for those staff. Bunge was expelled from the Argentine exporters' register last week.
Bunge denied the allegations absolutely and was adamant it had broken no laws or tax rules. "We believe that we have done nothing wrong and that our past tax payments are complete. This is an issue that is not unique to Bunge, or even our industry. We will continue to take the appropriate legal steps to defend ourselves," it said in a statement.
Echegaray alleged that Cargill had also used Uruguay and Swiss subsidiaries to evade taxes in Argentina. Cargill, ADM and Dreyfus were suspended from the exporters' register by the government earlier this year as a result of the investigation.
cont.The Argentine government has hitherto been an enthusiastic supporter of the the soy... more
Central China’s worst drought in more than 50 years is drying reservoirs and stalling rice planting, and threatens crippling power shortages as hydroelectric output slows, state media said yesterday.
Rainfall levels from January to last month in the drainage basin of the Yangtze, China’s longest and most economically important river, have been 40 percent lower than average levels of the past 50 years, the China Daily said.
The national flood and drought control authority has ordered the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric project, to increase its discharge of water by 10 percent to 20 percent for the next two weeks.
The measure is aimed at sending badly needed water to the Yangtze’s middle and lower reaches for drinking and irrigation.
Watermarks in more than 1,300 reservoirs in Hubei Province, where the dam is located, have dropped below allowable discharge levels for irrigation, the paper quoted Hubei Reservoir Management Director Yuan Junguang (袁俊光) as saying.
Rainfall in some areas is as much as 80 percent lower than usual, while the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Zhejiang along with Shanghai municipality are mired in their worst droughts since 1954.
“Without adequate water, we lost the spring planting season for rice,” Hubei farmer Zhou Xingtao was quoted as saying.
The paper said many other farmers in Hubei have lost their existing crops or given up on planting summer rice, fearing the emergency water supplies will be inadequate to sustain their fields, with more hot and dry weather forecast.
The agricultural impact is likely to further alarm officials already trying to tame high prices of key items such as food.
China — and the Yangtze river region in particular — is prone to the alternating threats of crippling drought followed by devastating flooding.
Just last summer, sustained torrential rainfall across the region caused widespread flooding and even some concern over whether the giant Three Gorges Dam would be able to contain the deluge.
More than 3,000 people were reported killed in the flooding and related landslides.
Nearly every year, some part of China suffers its worst drought in decades, and meteorological officials have said previously the extreme weather may be because of climate change.
The State Grid, China’s state-owned power distributor, reportedly said this week that 10 of its provincial-level power grids were suffering severe shortages because of the drought’s impact on hydroelectric generation, including grids in Shanghai and the heavily populated southwestern Chongqing region.
China could face a summer electricity shortage of 30 gigawatts — the most severe power shortfall since 2004, the company said.Central China’s worst drought in more than 50 years is drying reservoirs and... more
Climate change threatens far more than our environment. It's already led to the spread of infectious diseases and respiratory ailments across the globe and contributed to thousands of deaths through heat waves and other extreme weather events. It's even fueled recent revolts in the Middle East and North Africa.
That's according to Dan Ferber and Dr. Paul Epstein, the authors of a new book, Changing Planet, Changing Health: How the Climate Crisis Threatens Our Health and What We Can Do about It (University of California Press, April 2011).
The health of all humans is directly tied to how we, as communities, nations, and a global population, respond to the growing climate threat, says Ferber, a science journalist and Epstein, Associate Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.
Ferber and Epstein spoke with Reuters Health Thursday about how malaria, Lyme disease, and cholera, as well as food shortages and malnutrition, are all becoming increased risks with steadily rising temperatures. (See the live blog from the discussion here: bit.ly/lJnshE)
While getting out of the corner humanity has backed itself into will take a worldwide effort, they say that effort may be led by a surprising player: industry.
"Changing finance is a critical part of ... rewriting the rules" on climate management, Epstein said.
For the financial industry, there's a lot at stake, Epstein continued.
"With the uptake in extreme events -- particularly as it's affecting food security globally and food prices -- we're going to see a renewed interest on the part of the investors and insurers in the stability of society," he said. Already, "the financial industry has at times in the last several decades been acutely aware of the dangers and risks of climate change."
MANY THREATS, ONE CAUSE
Climate change is hitting human health -- and political and social stability -- from all sides, Epstein and Ferber said. On a daily basis many of those impacts are hidden from view -- until you take a step back.
Even slight increases in temperature -- a couple of degrees -- can broaden the habitat of pests that cause infectious diseases, from malaria in Kenya to Lyme disease in Maine, they said.
And the claim that regions saturated with infectious disease will just shift, rather than expand, isn't helpful because it misses other key points, Epstein said.
For example, in parts of Honduras it's gotten too hot for malaria-carrying mosquitoes to thrive. "But it's been so dry and hot that the people have moved as well, and they've moved into the northern area, into the forest, where there's plenty of malaria," he explained.
Pests also target wildlife, wiping out forests and increasing the risk of fires, such as in the Rockies and Cascades, where it used to be too cool for those pests to venture to high altitudes.
Another result of a changing climate: heat and carbon dioxide magnify the effects of asthma and allergies, particularly in cities where more and more children are developing respiratory problems.
And a combination of heat waves -- such as the one that killed thousands of Russians last summer -- and droughts not only causes immediate local health crises but also threatens global public health by destroying crops and driving up food prices, the authors said.
Food availability may be the most pressing issue of all.
"Our food, our air, our water, these are the issues that really underlie our public health," Epstein said. "These are the life support systems. These are the ones that ultimately are most critical and most sensitive to climate instability."
An unstable climate, Epstein explained, is directly linked to social and political unrest. "I think we're looking at increasing damages and social disruption from the climate instability and extremes," he said. "The earth itself can go to a new equilibrium, but we need to back off. We're pushing it hard
cont.Climate change threatens far more than our environment. It's already led to the... more
But, with food prices rising, 29 countries needing food aid this year, and budget shortfalls creating cries that foreign aid should be ended, we've got to cut the world's annual growth rate ever more quickly. As was stated at the Earth Summit in 1992 by the then United Nations Under-Secretary General, Maurice Strong, "Either we reduce the world's population voluntarily or nature will do this for us, but brutally." That was when the world had only 5.5 billion people to support. In another six months the number will be a full 7 billion, more than a 25% increase, with yet another 25% increase on top of that expected before 2050. For the foreseeable future, Strong's statement remains 100% correct and more important than ever. Voluntary population reduction remains a "must."But, with food prices rising, 29 countries needing food aid this year, and budget... more
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger
Robert Parry in In These Times examines how Paul Ryan’s budget test would turn healthcare for the elderly into one big free-market death panel.
Ryan’s plan privatizes Medicare, replacing it with premium support for insurance companies. That means the government would kick in a fixed amount of money towards insurance premiums for Americans over age 65. Ryan also wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurers to cover people with preexisting conditions. Ryan’s plan doesn’t guarantee that Americans over 65 could get insurance in the first place. Even if they could find an insurer willing to take them, there is no reason to believe that premium support would cover more than part of the cost.
Maybe the plan is to save money by pricing most seniors out of health insurance entirely. If you can’t get insurance in the first place, you don’t qualify for premium support.
Mitt Romney and health care
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney kicked off the exploratory phase of his campaign this week, Lynda Waddington reports in the Iowa Independent. Ironically, this prospective frontrunner is best known for bringing Obama-style health care reform to Massachusetts.
Aswini Anburajan of TAPPED wonders whether Romney’s record on health care will hurt him in the primary. Repealing health care reform is one of the major themes for the Republican Party, and Romney is the architect of a similar system. However, Anburajan notes, campaigning to all but abolish Medicare hasn’t hurt GOP Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s political status, even though seniors are a big part of the GOP base..
Part of the reason why Ryan hasn’t felt a backlash from seniors is that his plan preserves Medicare for people who are currently over 55 and will only decimate the program for younger people.
Demonizing pregnant users
At RH Reality Check, Lynn Paltrow takes the New York Times to task for a sensationalized story about children born to women who are dependent upon prescription painkillers. Paltrow notes that the same alarmist language was used to hype a non-existent epidemic of crack babies in the 1980s. The evidence suggests that the impact of drug use during pregnancy on the developing fetus is relatively minor compared to the effects of other factors that are correlated with drug use, such as poverty, poor nutrition, and lack of prenatal care.
If we assume there’s a clear causal relationships between using drugs and hurting babies, it’s easier to lay all the blame on the mother. The truth, Paltrow argues, is much more complicated. Drug use is just part of a constellation of unhealthy factors that conspire to give the children of poor and marginalized women a worse start in life.
Positing a distinct syndrome caused by drug abuse is often a first step towards stigmatizing, and even criminalizing, poor women who give birth to sick children.
Hungry women and children
Speaking of threats to the health of poor women and their children, the new budget deal slashes $500 million from nutrition programs, with the Women Infants and Children (WIC) food support program at the USDA taking the hardest hit, Tom Laskawy reports for Grist.
If you get your meals through an umbilical cord, the Republicans want to protect you; but if you have to eat groceries, you’re on your own.
Big Pharma hikes HIV drug prices
Elizabeth Lombino at Change.org reports that more than 8,000 people nationwide are on the waiting list for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), a government program that helps poor people living with HIV/AIDS pay for medications. Lombino notes that even as the ranks of patients who can’t cover their drugs continues to swell, pharmaceutical companies continue to raise their prices. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is calling upon pharmaceutical companies to lower prices to help grapple with what has come to be known as the ADAP crisis. So far, it’s been to little effect.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger
Robert Parry in In These Times... more
Food sovereignty is about a system of agriculture where people get to decide their own food and agricultural policies in their own countries without being dictated by foundations or institutions like the WTO or the IMF or the World Bank or trade agreements.People decide what they’re going to eat, who’s going to produce it, what’s going to be produced. And more than that, it’s a whole life system that is sustainable, that respects Mother Earth, that respects human rights and the rights of people to live in dignity, to be well-fed, to be reasonably taken care of, have a decent standard of living. Everything that food sovereignty encompasses is human rights, women’s rights and education: everything that makes a good life and protects the planet. http://www.makeahistory.com/index.php/recent-news/37410-la-via-campesina-food-and-farming-for-the-earthFood sovereignty is about a system of agriculture where people get to decide their own... more
2 years ago
If female farmers had stronger legal rights and more business opportunities millions of people would be better fed, claims a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization report released today.
In its annual report, "The State of Food and Agriculture," the U.N. agency finds that global harvests could rise by between 2.5 and 4 percent if women had stronger rights.
The organization estimates that 925 million people are currently undernourished. Closing a gender gap, which leaves female farmers' yields 20 to 30 percent lower than their male counterparts, could reduce undernourishment numbers by between 100 million and 150 million people.
The gender gap in agriculture is tied to women's weaker access to land rights, financing, modern technologies and ownership of animals and equipment.
In many countries, women do not have the same legal rights to buy, sell or inherit land, borrow money or open bank accounts, sell their produce or sign a contract. When women do have similar rights, the law is not always upheld by government officials.
Villarreal said several countries, such as some in sub-Saharan Africa, have changed their laws to give women equal rights to owning and inheriting land. However, she adds, in the rural areas of these countries, where a woman's status isn't recognized, customary standards take precedent.
Read the full run down at Women's eNews http://www.womensenews.org/story/environment/110305/bias-against-female-farmers-shrinks-food-harvestsIf female farmers had stronger legal rights and more business opportunities millions... more
Charities warn of food shortages in North Korea | BBC
Officials from five aid agencies who have just returned from a trip to North Korea say they saw evidence of looming food shortages and alarming malnutrition, including people picking wild grasses to eat.Charities warn of food shortages in North Korea | BBC
Officials from five aid... more
This is just the beginning. More rain in a month than they usually get in a year. We need to heed the signs.This is just the beginning. More rain in a month than they usually get in a year. We... more
By Hossein Askari and Noureddine Krichene
In his speech at the National Press Club in early February, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke downplayed, or some might say rejected, the notion that the Fed's sustained loose monetary policy had had an impact on record global food prices.
"I think it's entirely unfair to attribute excess demand in emerging markets to US monetary policy. Those nations can use their own monetary policy and adjust exchange rates to deal with their inflation problems," Bernanke said. "It's really up to emerging markets to find appropriate tools to balance their own growth.
"The Fed's policies are aimed at growing the domestic economy and to address stability in the United States. For some foreign countries facing high inflation, their policies have not been such to keep growth and capacity in balance.
"Supply and demand abroad for commodities, not US monetary policy, are causing higher food and energy prices rattling much of the world. Strong growth in emerging economies is moving millions of people from poverty to the middle class, changing their eating habits - more beef and less grains and so on."
It is not too surprising that Bernanke has consistently argued that countries that face food price inflation and riots have only themselves to blame for not adopting appropriate monetary and exchange rate policies. In fact, it is highly unlikely that the Fed will ever admit any relationship between food prices that are determined in financial markets and the US$600 billion of money that the Fed is pumping into these markets at near zero interest rate.
Similarly, the recent report on the causes of the financial crisis carefully avoided any blame on the Fed, with most of the culpability placed on greed and regulators.
Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times on February 6, absolved the Fed of any responsibility and argued: "... the evidence tells a different, much more ominous story. While several factors have contributed to soaring food prices, what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production. And these severe weather events are exactly the kind of thing we'd expect to see as rising concentrations of greenhouse gases change our climate - which means that the current food price surge may be just the beginning."
While the unprecedented high level of food prices is a result of the confluence of a number of factors, including bad weather, export restriction in surplus countries and hoarding, the culpability of monetary policy should be also included in the mix.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/MB10Dj01.htmlBy Hossein Askari and Noureddine Krichene
In his speech at the National Press Club... more
“What for a poor man is a crust, for a rich man is a securitized asset class.” --Futures trader Ann Berg, quoted in the UK Guardian
Underlying the sudden, volatile uprising in Egypt and Tunisia is a growing global crisis sparked by soaring food prices and unemployment. The Associated Press reports that roughly 40 percent of Egyptians struggle along at the World Bank-set poverty level of under $2 per day. Analysts estimate that food price inflation in Egypt is currently at an unsustainable 17 percent yearly. In poorer countries, as much as 60 to 80 percent of people's incomes go for food, compared to just 10 to 20 percent in industrial countries. An increase of a dollar or so in the cost of a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread for Americans can mean starvation for people in Egypt and other poor countries.
Follow the Money
The cause of the recent jump in global food prices remains a matter of debate. Some analysts blame the Federal Reserve’s “quantitative easing” program (increasing the money supply with credit created with accounting entries), which they warn is sparking hyperinflation. Too much money chasing too few goods is the classic explanation for rising prices.
The problem with that theory is that the global money supply has actually shrunk since 2006, when food prices began their dramatic rise. Virtually all money today is created on the books of banks as “credit” or “debt,” and overall lending has shrunk. This has occurred in an accelerating process of deleveraging (paying down or writing off loans and not making new ones), as the subprime housing market has collapsed and bank capital requirements have been raised. Although it seems counterintuitive, the more debt there is, the more money there is in the system. As debt shrinks, the money supply shrinks in tandem.
Read more at:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23079“What for a poor man is a crust, for a rich man is a securitized asset... more
A well written piece by Paul Krugman appeared in the NY Times yesterday that gives a truthful view on the current protests we are seeing in relation to food prices and world weather events and the effects of climate change. I have been reporting and writing about sustainable agriculture here for a couple of years now primarily in regards to the effects of climate, speculation, world policy regarding loans and food grown for export, types of sustainable agricultural practices, seed patents and the effects of monoculture GMOs on the world's economy, health, environment and food sovereignty.
It is no overstatement to state that we are in a climate/food crisis. Recent events in Australia, Russia, China, Africa and Latin America for example have not only been a part of rising prices but also in giving us a glimpse of what life will be like in a warming world. Agriculture, its cultivation, its very existence is under threat by an ongoing assault of erratic and intensifiying weather/climate events, pesticides, expansive and destructive industrial agricultural policies and practices that see more land going to growing non food items, lack of food access and the effects of GMOs and the transgenic contamination they bring which has already affected not only the traditional corn varieties of Mexico's culture and livelihood, but crops around the world which works against what we must now be doing to save our agriculture.
As we look to the future our ability to provide for our needs is being made much harder by our own actions. As we see our population approaching a projected 9 billion within the next several decades we must begin to seriously understand the role our actions play in the world we see before us, and the world we will leave successive generations. The ability to feed ourselves and plant seeds that preserve our global biodiversity is being attacked by those who would profit from both their ownership and their demise.
In this century there will be no greater challenge to our species than working to preserve the planet that provides our food, our water, and our lives. What Mr. Krugman states here is not to be taken lightly. Climate change is indeed upon us, and its reach goes far beyond the political differences that have kept this urgent crisis from being faced as it must be now. The protests in Egypt and around the world are warning signs as well as hopeful signs. If we do not deal with the root causes of this crisis including and most importantly climate change, the world of our making will not be one we will be able to inhabit. This does come down to the very seeds we plant in our soils, and in our consciences.
Excerpt by Mr, Krugman:
"While several factors have contributed to soaring food prices, what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production. And these severe weather events are exactly the kind of thing we’d expect to see as rising concentrations of greenhouse gases change our climate — which means that the current food price surge may be just the beginning."A well written piece by Paul Krugman appeared in the NY Times yesterday that gives a... more