Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Help Stop Food Speculators

With a billion people living with chronic hunger and global agriculture beset by the dual ravages of climate change and the freshwater crisis it is morally reprehensible to tolerate the investment sector gaming global food prices.  This has to stop.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is warning that the poorest, most vulnerable people (as in "human beings") are facing severe food problems this year and potentially far worse conditions in 2011.

In the latest edition of its Food Outlook report, the agency also issued a warning to the international community to prepare for harder times ahead unless production of major food crops increases significantly in 2011.

Food import bills for the world’s poorest countries are predicted to rise 11 percent in 2010 and by 20 percent for low-income food-deficit countries.

This means, by passing a trillion dollars, the global import food bill will likely rise to a level not seen since food prices peaked at record levels in 2008. 

...Contrary to earlier predictions, world cereal production is now forecast to contract by two percent rather than to expand by 1.2 percent as anticipated in June. Unexpected supply shortfalls due to unfavourable weather events were responsible for this change in direction, according to the report.   

Global cereal stocks are forecast to decline sharply and Food Outlook makes a strong call for production to be stepped up to replenish inventories. World cereals stocks are anticipated to shrink by seven percent according to FAO, with barley plunging 35 percent, maize 12 percent and wheat 10 percent.

It has been widely reported that Goldman Sachs, just one Wall Street firm, made a billion dollars this year through global food speculation.  The Independent accused Goldman of gambling on starvation.  

There was a time when commodity trading was a vehicle to assist farmers by getting money into their hands that they needed to be able to plant their crops.  But when there's a chronic shortage of food it's no longer about helping the farmer but rather gaming the market.

The World Development Movement is waging a campaign in the U.K. seeking government intervention to block food speculators.  Our government should be acting, both domestically and internationally, to put the boots to these food speculators.  Write your MP.  Write Ignatieff and Layton.  Tell them this has to stop and they have to make that happen.

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