Global Food Crisis: Hunger Plagues Haiti and the World

Linked with Stephen Lendman – USA.

Published on Global, by Stephen Lendman, April 21, 2008.

Consumers in rich countries feel it in supermarkets but in the world’s poorest ones people are starving. The reason – soaring food prices, and it’s triggered riots around the world in places like Mexico, Indonesia, Yemen, the Philippines, Cambodia, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Guinea, Mauritania, Egypt, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Peru, Bolivia and Haiti that was once nearly food self-sufficient but now relies on imports for most of its supply and (like other food-importing countries) is at the mercy of agribusiness.

Wheat shortages in Peru are acute enough to have the military make bread with potato flour (a native crop). In Pakistan, thousands of troops guard trucks carrying wheat and flour. In Thailand, rice farmers take shifts staying awake nights guarding their fields from thieves. The crop’s price has about doubled in recent months, it’s the staple for half or more of the world’s population, but rising prices and fearing scarcity have prompted some of the world’s largest producers to export less – Thailand (the world’s largest exporter), Vietnam, India, Egypt, Cambodia with others likely to follow as world output lags demand. Producers of other grains are doing the same like Argentina, Kazakhstan and China. The less they export, the higher prices go.

Other factors are high oil prices and transportation costs, growing demand, commodity speculation, pests in southeast Asia, a 10 year Australian drought, floods in Bangladesh and elsewhere, a 45 day cold snap in China, and other natural but mostly manipulated factors like crop diversion for biofuels have combined to create a growing world crisis with more on this below. It’s at the same time millions of Chinese and Indians have higher incomes, are changing their eating habits, and are consuming more meat, chicken and other animal products that place huge demands on grains to produce.

Here’s a UK April 8 Times online snapshot of the situation in parts of Asia: …

… This is the brave new world neoliberal schemers have in mind. They’re well along with their plans, marginally diverted by today’s economic distress, well aware that growing world protests that could prove hugely disruptive, but very focused, nonetheless, on finding clever ways to push ahead with what’s worked pretty well for them so far, so they’re not about to let human misery jeopardize big profits.

If they won’t reform, people have to do it for them, and throughout history that’s how it’s always worked. Over time, the stakes keep rising as the threats become greater, and today they may be as great as they’ve ever been.

What better time for a new social movement like those in the past that were pivotal forces for change. Famed community organizer Saul Alinsky knew the way to beat organized money is with organized people. In combination, they’ve succeeded by taking to the streets, striking, boycotting, challenging authority, disrupting business, paying with their lives and ultimately prevailing by knowing change never comes from the top down. It’s always from the grassroots, from the bottom up, and what better time for it than now. It’s high time democracy worked for everyone, that destructive GMO and biofuels schemes won’t be tolerated, and that “America the Beautiful” won’t any longer just be for elites and no one else. (full text).

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