Rapidly rising food prices are one of the most immediate ways that the economic crisis hits the poorest people. It led to riots in many parts of the world in 2010 and was a significant factor in igniting the Arab Spring.
Millions are dying of starvation in Africa and it’s easy to assume that this is because we aren’t producing enough food to feed everyone. In fact food production has become increasingly globalised and distorted since the 1970s with the result that a handful of countries now dominate the trade in staple foods. This leaves the most vulnerable countries at the mercy of those who dominate the trade. Global warming compounds the problem through drought, desertification and water shortage.
The rich countries of the north have imposed so called “liberalisation” on poorer countries – often through institutions like the International Monetary Fund – and subsidising agribusiness at the expense of the most vulnerable.
Agribusiness and GM crops have pushed up yields in a way that destroys the environment and denies food to hungry people. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez hit the nail on the head when he said that the food crisis is “…. the greatest demonstration of the historical failure of the capitalist model.”
War on Want runs a campaign against the power of the supermarkets to make the lives of growers increasingly intolerable. Oxfam has produced a report into the growing phenomena of land grab, produced by a drive to produce food for export, to meet bio-fuels targets and speculate on land to make an easy profit. Land grabs ignore the rights of people living on the land, leaving them homeless and without land to grow enough food to eat and make a living.
We need to argue for a Green Socialist approach to the problem where the people who produce food have the right to determine their own agricultural policies, free from interference from the multinationals or international institutions and their neo-liberal policies.
These issues are not discussed enough on the Left, so the meeting we have arranged in Wigan, which is part of a national tour focussing on them, organised by Socialist Resistance & Green Left, gives us a unique opportunity to do so.
Maria Neri Pampilo – from CONZARRD, a group of popular organisations & NGOs in The Philippines.
Friends Meeting House, 76 Swinley Lane Wigan, WN1 2DL – See Map @ http://www.quaker.org.uk/wigan
TUESDAY 22nd NOVEMBER 2011, 7.30pm Start
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=300506099960924
For CONZARRD organic farming is not a luxury – but essential to the survival of the farmers. Organic rice for example is more resilient against both disease and flooding as well as cheaper. Organic fertiliser, produced locally enriches the soil rather than depleting it in the way chemical fertiliser does.
‘Food sovereignty’ not ‘food security’ is the answer to world hunger!
One and a half billion people are at risk from rising food prices. This is the dramatic conclusion of the report by UN food agencies. This is the state of food insecurity in the World today. The report talks of a triple crisis of food, climate change and depleted natural resources, which could affect 1.5 billion people across 10 countries. It says: “having 600 million people suffering from hunger on a daily basis is never acceptable”
But the way the UN agencies focus on the concept of “food security” is fundamentally flawed. They promote private investment and increased agricultural productivity – both of which are part of the problem. They have contributed to the development of widespread hunger, rising food prices and small producers being forced off the land by increasing power of agribusiness and the supermarkets.
The answer is food sovereignty; that is the right of the people who produce food to determine their own agricultural policies, free from interference from either multinationals or from international institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF. The promotion of neo-liberal deregulation by these institutions has been one of the key factors leading to today’s food crisis.
We say no to the power of the supermarkets! Food producers are at the mercy of the supermarkets who dictate what is grown and what price they will pay. Tesco makes two thirds of its sales and profits in Britain. In the second quarter of this financial year like for like sales in British stores fell by 0.7% while profits increased by 12% in the first half of the year!
These are not issues that the left in Britain often addresses – we hope you will join us to hear Maria and other speakers discuss why they are vital to us all!