Sunday, 2 January 2011

That Trillion Dollar Food Bill

"With the pressure on world prices of most commodities not abating, the international community must remain vigilant against further supply shocks in 2011" FAO (pdf).

According to the Washington Post: “In the 10 years before the 2007-08 food crisis, the global bill for food imports averaged less than $500 billion a year.” But now, since that initial Shock, the crisis, if too little remediating action is taken, seems likely to escalate further causing more major global repercussions in the form of gnawing hunger and destabilisation.

The FAO food price index tells the story in stark terms. From a baseline of 90 in 2000 it rose to 115 in 2005, soaring through 154 in 2007 and up to 191 in 2008. It then dropped back a little in 2009, but by October 2010 it had leapt up again to 198, reaching a peak of 205 in November 2010, the last month so far recorded.

We Have to Admit that Western “Development” Models Have Failed

These higher than ever food prices in a deliberately globalised, commoditised world, mean that the burgeoning numbers of impoverished peoples - who let’s not forget, have been effectively encouraged to become dependent on imports of their very basic sustenance - will be pushed closer to starvation ever more frequently and over wider areas.
"The import dependance has become quite devastating, the expenditure for Less Developed Countries on food imports rose from 9 billion dollars in 2002 to 23 billion in 2008" reported Supachai Panitchpakdi, The Secretary General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

And as if all that wasn't bad enough, you'd hardly believe it, but even now rulers of poor nations, with the connivance of the wealthy transnational community, are pursuing wilful asset-stripping and sell-off of vital farmland, which will exacerbate hunger and dependence even further, entrenching it ineradicably into future decades if no-one acts to stop it.

As delegates told ENInews at a recent conference in Nairobi covering the global land-grab: "... corporations are using land for intensive farming, leaving it badly degraded for use by local communities when contracts end ... Global food market price volatility affecting countries depending on imports is a key factor driving the rush ... A surging demand for bio-fuels by oil companies," and perhaps most shockingly "the expectation of subsidies for carbon seizure through plantations and the avoidance of deforestation are the other factors."

IFPRI Report, 'Reflections on the Global food Crisis:  How Did It Happen? How Has It Hurt? And How Can We Prevent the Next One?'


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