Food for 12 Billion. So Why Did 854 Million Go Without?

Published on, by Christi van der Westhuizen, February 19, 2009.

GENEVA, Jun 29 (IPS) – “As you are suffering from over-consumption, I am suffering from under-consumption. We need to strike a balance,” said Mary Wahu Kaara from the Kenya Debt Relief Network with reference to the North and the South.

Her words were echoed by Hilkka Pietila, honorary president of the World Federation of United Nations Associations: We are wasting food in the North. We are eating too much, burning grain as fuel, and growing grain to feed pigs to slaughter for ham …

… Jean Ziegler, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, alerted the more than 500 delegates that while 854 million people went without food in the world last year, enough food was produced to feed 12 billion people. “This is why a child that dies from famine is murder,” Ziegler said.

Food is being over-produced in industrialised countries where some 349 billion dollars have been spent on agricultural subsidies for a minority of people. Only 2.5 percent of the French and 4.9 percent of the Swiss population are farmers, said Ziegler.

“You can go to the Dakar market (in Senegal) and find Spanish, French, German and Italian fruit and vegetables at half or one-third of the local prices. The African farmers work 15 hours a day but they cannot compete with subsidies. This is systematically destroying Africa’s agriculture,” he pointed out.

“Nothing is being done about the dumping policy. The Third World is feeding us (Europeans). That is what is keeping this system in place.”

Ziegler called the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the “mercenary organisation of the financial oligarchies that dominate the world”.

He gave the following example to justify his comment: Niger, the second poorest country in the world, had a national veterinary office which provided free vaccinations and other services for the 22 million head of cattle in the country.

The IMF insisted on the privatisation of the service and threatened to withdraw its funding, something Niger’s government fought without success. Since privatisation, herds have been destroyed because people could not pay for vaccinations. “The IMF has destroyed the way of life of tens of thousands of families,” Ziegler said … (full text).


video in french: la haine de Jean Ziegler pour l’Occident – Intégrale, 20.56 min, Jan 5, 2009;

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM: Makers and Shakers of the Post-Crisis World;

Human Rights Council Advisory Committee begins discussion on the right to food;

Biofuel production a crime against humanity;

… more on Google News-results (by key words right on food).

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