Global Policy Forum

Trade and Food Production System

Picture Credit: UN Photo/Gill Fickling
To solve the world hunger crisis, it's necessary to do more than send emergency food aid to countries facing famine. Leaders must address the globalized system of agricultural production and trade that favors large corporate agriculture and export-oriented crops while discriminating against small-scale farmers and agriculture oriented to local needs. As a result of official inaction, more than thirty million people die of malnutrition and starvation every year, while large industrial farms export ever more strawberries and cut flowers to affluent consumers. Excessive meat production, again largely for the affluent, requires massive amounts of feed grains that might otherwise sustain poor families. Giant agribusiness, chemical and restaurant companies like Cargill, Monsanto and McDonalds dominate the world's food chain, building a global dependence on unhealthy and genetically dangerous products. These companies are racing to secure patents on every plant and living organism and their intensive advertising seeks to persuade the world's consumers to eat more and more sweets, snacks, burgers, and soft drinks.


GPF Perspectives l UN Documents | Articles l Archived Articles

GPF Perspectives

A New Era of World Hunger? – The Global Food Crisis Analyzed (July 2008)

This paper discusses the main causes of the steep run-up in global food prices and the resulting spread of hunger to nearly a billion people worldwide. Authors James A. Paul and Katarina Wahlberg conclude that biofuels and the agro-industrial approach to food production are the main culprits of the food crisis. The paper looks at a wide range of factors endangering nutrition for all, including population growth, unsustainable consumption, international trade policy and climate change. The authors argue for effective and generous short-term aid as well as longer-term transformation of the agricultural system to make it more justly distributive, resilient, and sustainable for the future. (Global Policy Forum/Friedrich Ebert Foundation)

Causes and Strategies on World Hunger: Green Revolution versus Sustainable Agriculture (May 2008)

Global Policy Forum's Katarina Wahlberg criticizes the World Bank's proposal to create a Green Revolution in Africa. By focusing on boosting agricultural production through scientific development of more productive crops, the Bank disregards the fact that the Earth's biological systems cannot be exploited forever. The supporters of the new Green Revolution also fail to address the major causes of the global food crisis, including biofuel production and unsustainable global consumption of meat. The author calls for a shift from industrial agriculture of export crops to sustainable agriculture for local consumption. (World Economy & Development in Brief)

Are We Approaching a Global Food Crisis? (March 3, 2008)

Global Policy Forum's Katarina Wahlberg warns that for the "first time in decades, worldwide scarcity of food is becoming a problem." Increasing demand of cereals for food consumption, cattle feeding and in particular biofuel production, is driving food prices to record levels. Especially the poor, who spend a majority of their income on food, will suffer. To make matters worse, the food price hike is also affecting the amount of food aid available, as governments have not increased funding for the UN's World Food Programme. (World Economy & Development in Brief)

UN Documents

Agroecology and the Right to Food (March 2011)

Agroecology can double the world's food production within 10 years, whilst mitigating climate change and alleviating rural poverty. Ecological methods enhance soil productivity and protect crops against pests by relying on the natural environment. This report by Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, calls upon States to feed their population by adopting the efficient farming techniques. Conventional farming that relies on expensive inputs actually fuels climate change and is not resilient to climatic shocks.

Fish Consumption Reaches All-Time High (January 31, 2011)

Fisheries support the livelihood of over 540 million people and fish products are the world's most traded food commodity.  According to the State of the World's Fisheries and Aquaculture report global wild food stocks have declined and fish farming cannot keep up its recent growth. The Report examines increased efforts to enforce trade measures and against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and the need for sustainable management of fisheries, which is often overlooked by policy-makers. (FAO)

"From Food Security to the Right to Food" - UN Expert Highlights China's Next Steps (December 23, 2010)

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, commends China's remarkable social and economic progress over the past three decades. China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. However, there are problems which including climate change, the shrinking of arable land and land degradation, which threaten agricultural production. De Schutter recommends that China move towards a more sustainable farming system to maintain current levels of production.

Addressing Concentration in Food Supply Chains (December 2010)

Disproportionate buyer power in global food supply chains harm small-scale farmers. UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, asserts that competition law can address the abuse of dominant buyer power by global agribusiness firms. Competition law can designed to protect the right to food, so that global food supply chains can reduce rural poverty.

Agriculture at the Crossroads: Guaranteeing Food Security in a Changing Global Climate (December 2010)

The UN Conference on Trade and Development has released a Policy Brief outlining the impact of climate change on agriculture. For many developing countries, the agricultural sector is extremely important. Even though a climate change can have serious detrimental consequences for food security, the agricultural sector can be part of a solution to mitigate negative effects. This brief asserts the need for a significant shift from conventional methods, to sustainable food production systems that improve the productivity of small-scale farmers. (UNCTAD)

The State of Food and Agriculture (2010)

FAO's annual flagship publication, "The State of Food and Agriculture" provides scientific assessment of the current issues in the food and agriculture debate. This year's report draws attention to the rapid expansion of the livestock sector - driven by population growth, urbanization and rising affluence. It emphasizes the need for broader rural development policies and increased governance of the livestock sector, to ensure its impact on the environment is limited. (FAO)

The Environmental Food Crisis (2009)

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a new report on the link between the environment and the food crisis. Environmental degradation and losses of cropland and biodiversity threaten food production. The report analyses the impact of ecocide on agricultural yield and the food system and calls for sustainable investments along with policy regulation of the food market. (UNEP)

Food Security and Agricultural Mitigation in Developing Countries (November 2009)

Food crisis and climate change are challenging agriculture. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has released a new report, which points out that farming significantly contributes to the green house gas emissions while suffering from global warming at the same time. One of the key factors to mitigate climate change and meet food demand is the restoration of organic soils. The report calls for a more holistic vision that looks beyond narrow and unsustainable solutions. (FAO)

UN Expert Raises Concern over Policies Marginalizing Traditional Seed Varieties (October 21, 2009)

Commercial seed production, a market dominated by a few transnational companies, reduces bio-diversity. The Special Rapporteur on Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, is concerned about the dependency of small farmers on these big companies. He also addresses the unequal competition between the commercial and traditional seed system. He calls for investments and policies which favor small farmers in developing countries and not large producers or private investors. (UNDPI)

World Food Summit Declaration: The Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy (June 5, 2008)

This declaration calls upon UN members and international agencies to implement short-, medium- and long-term solutions to the global food crisis. The text urges member states to increase aid to small-scale farmers in affected countries and raise investments for research to boost food production. World leaders failed to agree on the specific causes of the food crisis, including the role played by biofuel production. Instead, the declaration recommends further investigation into the impact that biofuel production has on food security. (Food and Agriculture Organization)

Crop Prospects and Food Situation (February 2008)

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) predicts that even though global cereal production will increase in 2008, prices will remain at record high levels. Production is not growing fast enough to match the strong demand so countries' cereal stocks will keep falling. Most of the production increase will take place in the US, EU, China and India. The majority of poor countries will experience a decline in production, making them even more dependent on imports and vulnerable to higher grain prices.

Articles and Documents

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US family farmers criticise TAFTA (June 13, 2014)

The USA’s National Family Farm Coalition warnes that food safety as well as farmers’ livelihoods could be under threat if plans for a Transatlantic Free Trade Area were to materialise. The National Family Farm Coalition was among a wide range of civil society groups protesting against a Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA) in Arlington, USA, in May. One of the chief aspects of transatlantic negotiations is the mutual recognition by the USA and the EU of rules and regulations on trade and investment. Here, the focus is not so much on tariff barriers, but on what the US government refers to as “behind the border” policies such as health, environmental and financial protection. Eliminating these “trade irritants”, as they have been called by multinational corporations, is referred to as a “reduction of non-tariff barriers” in the on-going EU-US talks. (Rural21)


ETC  Group and EcoNexus have issued reports surrounding the corporate control that is entrenched in the global food chain. The reports delve in to the dominance of the agricultural sector particularly in the industrial farm inputs such as animal feed production, livestock breeding, fertilizers/pesticides and seed production amongst others. Their findings show the devastation that these monopolies are causing to local farmers as their local breeds and food crop varieties have been lost.

Reforming the G8's public–private partnership on agriculture and food security (September 26, 2013)

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched at the G8 summit in 2012, promises to reduce poverty for 50 million people over the next ten years by increasing private investment and agriculture-led growth in selected African countries. One year after the initiative’s launch, evidence provided by a new Oxfam Briefing note about its implementation presents a worrying picture of its performance so far. (Oxfam)

Alternatives to Food Import Dependency (August 1, 2013)

There is a vast number of proposals, strategies and initiatives how to improve food security and agricultural production. Suspiciously, one aspect is missing in these debates: Could import restrictions help to stimulate agricultural production and benefit small-scale farming families? What are the preconditions for a rational and "smart" implementation of trade regulation to achieve these objectives? These questions are taken up by Uwe Hoering in his report "Alternatives to Food Import Dependency" which he wrote for FDCL, a research and documentation institute working on Chile and Latin America. (FDCL)

EU Financial Regulations Fail to Curb Food Speculation (June 28, 2013)

A coalition of NGOs, including Friends of the Earth Europe, Oxfam, the World Development Movement and SOMO have criticized the position EU finance ministers display with regard to financial regulation. They say the EU ignores how financial institutions continue to engage in food speculation, which endangers food security. New regulations are due to be adopted by 2014. (SOMO)

EU Agricultural Reform Misses Opportunity (June 27, 2013)

Two German NGOs, Brot für die Welt and WWF Germany, criticize the recent agreement on the reform of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, which provides massive subsidies to large agricultural producers in EU countries. Not only does the reform miss the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in terms of environmental protection, but it also ignores export subsidies, which are a crucial issue for farmers in the global South. (Brot für die Welt, WWF Germany)

A coalition of British NGOs as well as the German NGO Misereor have emphasized that African civil society organizations reject the "G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition", according to statements that both groups published. Last weekend, the so-called "Nutrition for Growth" summit was held in London in anticipation of the G8 meeting this month in Northern Ireland. African civil society organizations reject the G8 approach and call into question its legitimacy in terms of deciding about African food security. (World Development Movement, Misereor)

Fourth Largest German Bank Backs Out of Food Speculation (May 13, 2013)

Germany's fourth largest bank, DZ Bank, and its subsidiary Union Investment, have announced that they will no longer engage in speculation with agricultural commodities, according to the NGO foodwatch. DZ Bank confirmed this through a letter sent to foodwatch. DZ Bank is the latest of a number of institutes which have announced their decision to stop the process of food speculation. (Foodwatch)

Drought and a growing population have put a strain on food security in Kenya. In response, the Kenyan government is encouraging rice farmers to adopt an agricultural technique called System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which is widely used in India.  The method allows farmers to grow their crops with limited water, whilst producing greater yields. Rice is a staple part of the Kenyan diet, but production in the country does not match demand and it relies heavily on imports from countries in Asia.  The rice intensification program aims to make Kenya more self-sufficient, particularly in the face of climate change. 

FAO Director-General Praises Trend toward Small-Scale Local Food Production (March 25, 2013)

FAO Director-General Jose Graziono da Silva cites small-scale food production and the recovery of agricultural biodiversity as the path towards increasing food security, particularly in rural areas. At a visit to the University of Gastronomic Sciences, he criticised the Green Revolution of the 1960s for its environmental destruction and detrimental impact on crop varieties that resulted from the heavy weight placed on chemical agrarian methods. He noted the need to “recover traditional crops, support local production and link them to markets, allowing for an increase in their income”. He highlighted the role of crops such as quinoa in the struggle against hunger, referencing the UN’s International Year of Quinoa. Although da Silva’s emphasis on agricultural and food diversity and “rediscovering different foods” is important, it ignores issues related to land grabbing and climate change. (FAO)

Mars, Mondelez, Nestle Are Leaving Women Farmers Behind (March 8, 2013)

Oxfam criticizes Mars, Mondelez and Nestle for their unequal treatment of women. Research into the ethical standards of their supply chain has revealed that female cocoa farmers in the global south often face discrimination.  Even though women are crucial in the production system, they often receive unequal pay and are frequently denied access to land, credit, trainings and tools. On International Women’s Day, Oxfam campaigned to encourage the companies to address these issues and urged them to take steps to make their products more sustainable. (Oxfam Press Release)

The Local Food Revolution in Brazil's Schools (March 1, 2013)

Brazil has introduced new initiatives to encourage sustainability and nutrition in the country by promoting the use of locally sourced produce in school meals. The program aims to support the production and consumption of quality food from small-scale farmers and increase their visibility in the local market. The government hopes that it will stimulate economic development, nutrition and food sovereignty in the country. The initiative follows on from the National School Feeding Program which was launched in 1955 as a social assistance program to tackle hunger problems. Today the focus is on creating a local food procurement system and on encouraging transparency and accountability in the school meal program. (Al Jazeera)

Oxfam’s “Behind the Brands” report assesses the ethical behavior of the top 10 food brands. The charity has rated companies such as Nestlé, Mars and Coco-Cola in terms of their conduct towards women’s rights; land and water use; climate change; local communities; small hold farmers and workers’ rights. The report reveals that these companies, which dominate the food market and collectively make over $1 billion a day, are not meeting ethical standards. Associated British Foods (ABF), owner of brands including Kingsmill, Ovaltine and Silverspoon got the lowest score with just 13 out of 70. It scored a poor one out of ten in its treatment of land, women and climate change. Oxfam hope to put pressure on these companies to re-examine how their activities encroach on human rights and the environment. However, the charity is calling on consumers rather than governments to push for this change.  (Guardian)

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food (February 20, 2013)

This article explores how the junk food industry drives the public to over-consume and become addicted to processed food. Colossal amounts of research, money and engineering go into the process of discovering how they can “drive more ounces into more bodies more often.”  As well as overloading their products with sugar and salt to encourage addiction, they also create products that are intentionally bland in flavor and that melt when eaten to trick the brain into thinking that it hasn’t consumed any calories, causing the consumer to eat and crave more. They target sections of the population that would be more susceptible to marketing and addiction. Coca-Cola for example, which refers to its biggest consumers as “heavy users,” has big campaigns in poorer and more vulnerable areas such as New Orleans. Transnational companies such as Kraft, Coca-Cola and Nestlé disregard the health dangers of their items, often excusing their behavior by claiming that it is a matter of supply and demand.  (New York Times)

Ministers Dine on Food Grown in Kenya But Rejected by UK Supermarkets for Cosmetic Reasons (February 18, 2013)

 As part of the UN initiative Think.Eat.Save, ministers and high-level officials gathered in Nairobi recently to dine on food that would have otherwise been discarded for not meeting EU food aesthetic standards. The event was designed to raise awareness of the campaign which aims to reduce global food waste by changing consumer and retailer attitudes towards food. 1.6 tonnes of food was gathered from Kenyan farms that had been deemed unfit for sale in Europe and served at the dinner. Tristram Stuart, founder of Feeding the 5000, a partner organization to Think.Eat.Save notes that “It’s a scandal that so much food is wasted in a country with millions of hungry people.” However, this food is not being farmed to feed the millions of people who suffer from food shortages in Kenya; it is intended for export to the EU. The campaign doesn’t address the fact that the UK and other EU countries are growing their food in Africa to begin with, a key issue within the modern food system.  (UN Press Release)

India's Rice Revolution (February 16, 2013)

In the village of Darvesphura, in India’s poorest state, farmers are growing record-breaking amounts of rice, without the help of GMOs or herbicides. The increase in yield is a direct result of a farming method called System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which was developed by Henri de Laulanie, a French Jesuit priest and agronomist in Madagascar in the 1980s.  An American Professor, Norman Uphoff, circulated the method in Asia which has helped to lift many people out of poverty. It has been described as a “new green grassroots revolution,” wholly opposite to the “green revolution” of the 1960s which relied heavily on technology and pesticides. Westerns governments, however, are holding back from investing in the method, preferring to finance technological research. (Guardian)

The UN has designated 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa and has high hopes for its role in the fight against world hunger. The crop is becoming increasingly popular, with health enthusiasts heralding it as a “super-food”; however, the question surrounding this popularity’s impact on quinoa growers in the Andes is also topical, and contentious. Critics claim that the mounting demand for the super-grain increases its price and makes it inaccessible to poor Bolivians who rely heavily on it for nutrients. Others, including the UN, argue that the farmers are benefiting economically from the high demand for the crop. In either case, the responsibility is placed on the consumer: to boycott its sale or to increase it.  This article argues that it is not consumer habits that are affecting the lives of the farmers; it is rather the system behind production that really calls for change. Cheap US wheat products saturate the Bolivian market, undermining the local food market and making it difficult for local farmers to compete.  Furthermore, the farming of the crop is having harmful effects on the land and ecosystems as the government pushes for the mechanization of the production system. (Common Dreams)

Profits and Pandemics: Prevention of Harmful Effects of Tobacco, Alcohol, and Ultra-Processed Food and Drink Industries (February 12, 2013)

The medical journal "The Lancet" has published a series of articles on non-communicable diseases and their role in the Post-2015 debate. This particular article looks at transnational food and drink corporations as drivers of NCDs. It examines their political behavior and how they work to undermine health regulations, drawing a close comparison to the tobacco and alcohol industries. Each year there are more than 9.4 million deaths caused by high blood pressure, 3.4 million from high body-mass index and 2 million from high cholesterol, much of which could be ascribed to the consumption of processed foods and drinks. Despite these health dangers, transnational companies such as Nestle and Coco-Cola have a big influence on public policies designed to fight NCDs and have a powerful position in the global market, in particular in low and middle income countries. The Lancet NCD Action Group calls on governments and civil society to work to protect public health and regulate the actions of these industries. (The Lancet)

Bhutan Set to Plough Lone Furrow as World's First Wholly Organic Country (February 11, 2013)

Bhutan is banning the sale of pesticides and herbicides and promoting traditional agricultural methods to become the world’s first wholly organic country. The government hopes this move will help the nation of small-hold farmers to produce more food and increase exports. The Buddhist country is leading the way in sustainable development, it is carbon neutral, food secure and 95% of the population has clean water and electricity. However, it is also suffering from the effects of globalization, consumerism and climate change. Many Bhutanese are reluctant to pursue an agrarian livelihood and are migrating to neighboring countries. Unpredictable weather has affected farmers’ harvests and growing numbers have come to rely on chemicals to improve their yield.  Despite these set-backs, the government is confident that Bhutan will succeed in being agriculturally organic and as a Buddhist country, see this step as both practically and philosophically valuable. (Guardian)

Genetically Engineered Meat, Coming Soon to a Supermarket Near You (February 11, 2013)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has plans to approve the “AquAdvantage Salmon,” the first-ever genetically engineered animal. It is being evaluated through the FDA’s “New Animal Drug Approval” (NADA), a procedure intended to assess new animal drugs, not genetically engineered animals. As a drug is inserted at the one-cell stage of development, the animal is considered as a drug and is thus not required to be analyzed in reference to human health, animal welfare or environmental impacts. If this approval goes ahead, the GE meat process is likely to become concealed from consumers and as Friends of the Earth notes, FDA’s approval “will open the floodgates for other genetically engineered animals, including pigs and cows, to enter the food supply.” (Common Dreams)

Almost Half of the World's Food Thrown Away, Report Finds (January 10, 2013)

The UK's Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has released a report revealing that between 30 and 50 per cent of all food produced across the world is wasted every year. This global waste stems mainly from retailers’ and consumers’ demand for aesthetically perfect food and strict sell-by dates.  The IMechE has also expressed concern over the high levels of water used in the process of food production, particularly in the production of meat. Due to high standards of physical appearance, about 550 bn cubic meters of water is wasted in growing products that are disposed of before they even reach the consumer. As the population is growing and food insecurity is increasing, the IMechE calls on governments, the UN and development agencies to tackle this problem. (Guardian)


Does the Future of Farming in Africa Lie In the Private Sector? (November 23, 2012)

In recent years, many development organizations and NGOs have promoted linking large corporations with African smallholder farmers. Critics such as Patrick Mulvany from the UK Food Group argue that these developments are motivated by agribusinesses that depend on the imposition of an industrialised agricultural model in African countries for their own commercial success. Large agriculture firms such as Cargill and Monsanto now offer farmers greater access to fertilizer, quality seeds, finance and other services, creating a dependency that ultimately undermines smallholders. Agribusiness corporations see smallholder farmers as an opportunity to secure the food supplies at relatively cheap prices, using cheap labor and simultaneously creating a new market for proprietary agrochemicals. (Guardian)

Q&A: Food Production Accounts for 29 Percent of Greenhouse Gases (October 31, 2012)

Food production represents 29 percent of the greenhouse gases that are causing global warming. Two reports released in Copenhagen by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) confirmed this. A Q&A with the authors of these reports revealed that the emissions footprint of food production involves the combined emissions of all the stages of food production (manufacture of inputs like fertilizers, agriculture itself, food distribution and sales, and managing of food waste). The reports emphasize that the impacts of climate change with regards to food security will fall disproportionately on the people in developing countries, even when these people contribute very little to the global footprint. To reduce emissions, there must be new methods of food production as well as new food consumption patterns. (IPS)

Betting on the Farm: Africa's Drive for Food Self-Sufficiency (October 19, 2012)

Food insecurity and dependency on food imports are a common problem in Africa, despite its abundant land and resources. Following the food crisis of 2007-2008, a number of African countries have been prioritizing efforts to tackle this problem and achieve food self-sufficiency based on the principles of national and regional food sovereignty. The heart of these strategies is to increase food production by substantially improving crop yields and emphasizing emerging local and regional African urban markets. Compared to earlier attempts, prospects for Africa’s food sovereignty appear more promising than before, and there is growing political pressure for measures protecting consumers from import and price volatility.  However, significant financial investment is required to move past political rhetoric and decrease dependency on external food supplies. (Think Africa Press)

In a World Hungry for Biofuels, Food Security Must Come First (October 17, 2012)

 Growing crops for food and fuel simultaneously can work, but food security must be a priority. The UN Special rapporteur on the right to food Olivier De Schutter argues thatwhile EU’s plans to revise its biofuel targets downwards failed to go far enough.  The remaining productive lands are under increasing pressure for biofuel production. International trade and investment in this field is intensifying this. Lowering targets for biofuel is insufficient and a guarantee of sustainability in agriculture requires domestic case-by-case measures. De Shutter proposes a model where smallholders would organize themselves into cooperatives that intercropped biofuel feedstocks with staple crops that were earmarked for local food markets. In this way biofuel production would in fact strengthen small-scale local food producers and food systems that have a long-term interest in maintaining the natural resource base. (Guardian)

More Fish in the Sea? (October 9, 2012)

Over fishing by foreign fleets is threatening fish stock sustainability for local fishermen in West and Central Africa. Unregulated fishing and harmful techniques are destroying habitats and causing the ocean’s stocks to dramatically deplete, seeing many species move towards extinction. The Regional Commission for Fishing in the Gulf of Guinea (COREP) warns that this strain on resources threatens food security and livelihoods in the area. Governments must enforce measures to monitor the activities of foreign fishing fleets.  Warnings are sidelined; however, as authorities are reluctant to forsake the revenues they receive from selling fishing rights. (Think Africa Press)

Treating Food Like Stocks and Shares is a Recipe for Disaster (October 13, 2012)

Financial speculation on food commodities brings uncertainty and volatility to the markets and is a major threat to the world’s poor. The Institute of International Finance has estimated that by the middle of last year, $450bn of financial assets was invested in commodities or derivatives betting on future price movements. UNCTAD is urging the world’s regulators to take a series of measures to control and limit speculation.  A financial transaction tax is the most likely measure to succeed, as at least 11 European countries are close to adopting such a levy in the near future. But lobbying by financial firms will likely prevent any serious regulation of futures and derivatives. (Observer)

Stanford Researchers Show Oil Palm Plantations Are Clearing Carbon-rich Tropical Forests in Borneo (October 8, 2012)

A new study by Stanford University researchers shows that the expanding production of palm oil is destroying tropical rainforests in Borneo and significantly increasing carbon dioxide emissions.  Indonesia is the leading producer of palm oil and home to the world’s third largest tropical forest area. Due to rapid loss of these forests, Indonesia is one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases. Despite the fact that about 16, 000 square kilometers of forested lands has been cleared for plantations, accurate information about these plantations is not readily available for public review or oversight. Most residents in this area are unaware of these developments, which have dramatic effects on their livelihoods and environment. (Farmland Grab)

What's the Real Driver of High Food Prices and Hunger? (September 6, 2012)

The media coverage of the US drought and increase in food prices is welcomed but it perpetuates false ideas about the main causes and solutions to these problems. The Alternet article criticizes coverage that attributes price increases mainly to an increase in meat-based western diets in developing countries. While this is certainly a part of the explanation, it misses two problems underlying price volatility - ̶  financial speculation and the lack of publicly held food reserves. It also downplays the impact of biofuels. While dietary patterns change slowly, the use of biofuels can be quickly and decisively changed through government policies. (Alternet)

Food Shortages Could Force World into Vegetarianism, Warn Scientists (August 26, 2012)

To avoid catastrophic food shortages in the next 40 years, the world’s rapidly growing population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet, says the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). SIWI’s latest report warns that there will not be enough water available for everyone to adopt a Western-type diet. Vegetarian diets consume five to ten times less water and would hence increase the amount of water available to grow more food. The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) also states that investment in small-scale water solutions rather than large irrigation projects would increase household revenues across the global south. (Guardian)

Has ‘Organic’ Been Oversized? (July 7, 2012)

In the past decade, US corporations such as Kellogg, PepsiCo and General Mills have bought many small, independent organic companies and profited from the value-added price of organic food, making it a $30-billion-a-year business. Their domination of the board that sets standards for organic foods has also led to an increase in the number of nonorganic materials approved for organic production, from 77 in 2002 to more than 250 today. By turning “organic” into a marketing ploy and corrupting the organic food industry, corporate giants continue to maintain the unsustainable food and farming system that threatens the health of humans and the environment. (New York Times)

How Fairtrade Bananas are Failing Migrant Workers (May 28, 2012)

In the Dominican Republic, the Fairtrade banana industry is reliant on Haitian migrant workers who are paid below living wages and have no access to social security. More than half of the country’s bananas are exported the UK, where supermarkets are the most powerful actors along the supply chain and make high profits based on unsustainably low prices that they pay to suppliers. While fair trade standards are designed to ensure that producers from developing countries have long-term security, in practice, the standards are not helping migrant workers to earn a fair salary and decent living conditions. (Guardian) 

Access to Good, Healthy Food Should Be a Basic Right (February 22, 2012)

In this article, author Eric Schlosser argues that the current system of food production must be overhauled in favor of a new diverse, resilient, and democratic system. Schlosser states that the current system is overly centralized, overly industrialized, and “overly controlled by a handful of companies that are overly reliant on monocultures, pesticides, chemical fertilizers.” He says that the current low costs of food are deceptive, but what’s gone wrong in our food system can be reversed if we move towards alternative small scale production systems, such as organic farming. (The Atlantic)

Once a Food Chain, Now a Corporate Supply Chain - Part 2

As consumer markets in the US and Western Europe are shriveling, Walmart , the world's largest corporation, is attempting to enter markets of developing economies. It is estimated that the value of grocery markets in the four BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will amount to three billion dollars in the next four years. With an 8 percent growth rate, India shines as a lucrative market for retailers. Walmart's entry into the country would not only jeopardize the livelihoods of small farmers but also destroy the entire Indian system of “farm to table” farming. It seems that Walmart poses a bigger threat to small-scale agriculture than seed titan Monsanto. (IPS Terraviva)


Monsanto & Other BioTech Giants Deeply Entrenched in US Politics  (December 11, 2011)

Multi-national Biotech company Monsanto spent $2 million in the first quarter of 2009 lobbying the US government that genetically engineered seeds were safe and did not need testing. Leaked cables and internal FDA documents show that FDA scientists believe genetically modified foods could lead to new diseases. Although 30 countries have significant restrictions or bans on GMOs, the US government approves of their use. (UK Progressive

The GMO Emperor Has No Clothes (October 2011)

This new Global Citizens’ report on the state of GMOs highlights the false promises and failures of genetically engineered (GE) seeds. Contrary to claims by global corporation Monsanto, GE crops do not control pests and weeds, increase crop yields, or lower the levels of chemicals used in food production, writes activist Vandana Shiva. The report calls for a shift towards agroecology, a biological-based, sustainable alternative to the current industrial food production model. (Panna)

Biofuels May Push 120 Million into Hunger, Qatar's Shah Says (September 26, 2011)

In order to feed a growing global population, food output must compete with biofuels production and rise by seventy percent in the next forty years, says Policy advisor to Qatar's food security program Mahendra Shah. According to Shah, biofuels encourage deforestation, increase fertilizer usage, and will inevitably lead to rising agricultural prices and push hundreds of millions of people into hunger. (Bloomberg)

Resisting the Corporate Theft of Seeds (September 14, 2011)

Preeminent land activist Vandana Shiva emphasizes the need to resist the agro-industrial takeover of small farmers and communities. This fundamental shift has played a significant role in denying millions of people their right to food. According to Shiva, it is important to move away from food “dictatorship” and build food “democracies,” which address the challenges of seed monopolies and advocate agroecology. (The Nation) 

Why GMOs Won't Feed the World (Despite What You Read in the New York TImes) (August 19, 2011)

This article discusses how “sustainable intensification”—the production of food while reducing agriculture’s negative impacts on the environment—is a better alternative to GMO technology. Unlike GMO crops that rely on synthetic fertilizer and pesticides, sustainable farming increases the capture of carbon in the soil while simultaneously decreasing health risks from exposure to toxic chemicals. In this article Anna Lappé, co-founder of the Small Planet Institute, argues that GMOs do not strengthen social networks or up production significantly and they are not the answer to global food needs. (Civil Eats)

Barack Obama Bets on Next Generation of Biofuels Industry (August 16, 2011)

During a campaign tour in the Midwest, Obama announced plans to spend up to $510m building biofuels refineries. These refineries will produce fuel from corn, wood chips, or grasses for the US navy and “[reduce] America’s dependence on foreign oil,” said Obama. Like corn ethanol, another government-backed biofuel, investment in these types of biofuels could further constrict food supplies and hike global food prices, as seen with corn ethanol. (Guardian)

GM Corn Being Developed for Fuel Instead of Food (August 15, 2011)

US farmers have begun growing Enogen-branded genetically modified (GM) corn plants to produce ethanol for commercial purposes. Critics of Enogen believe farmers will be drawn to the new “efficient ethanol form of corn” and consequently produce less food for human consumption. Studies show a well-established relationship between expanding biofuels production and rising global food prices. There is also much worldwide resistance to the introduction of this new GM corn. The EU, South Korea, and South Africa have not approved the import of the new GM corn and food industry groups in the US also oppose the new Enogen corn, citing cross-pollination fears. (Guardian)

Russia Offers Agricultural Land for Southeast Asian Farmers to Grow Crops (August 12, 2011)

In an effort to foster trade and boost exports, Russia is looking to sell about 24 million hectares of arable land, below-market price, to Asian countries seeking to invest in foreign farmland for food security purposes. Currently, a reported 409 million acres of farmland are unused in Russia. The Russian government plans to acquire more land for lending, by annulling ownership rights to land that has not been cultivated for three years. Russia’s focus on Southeast Asia is part of a wider effort to build stronger ties with the fastest growing region in the world.  (Bloomberg)

"Africa Can Feed the World" (July 27, 2011)

The neglect of sustainable agriculture in Africa must end says Kanayo Nwaze, president of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The Somali famine serves as a warning to African governments and the international community to invest in small-scale farming. Development assistance for agriculture fell from $20billion (in the 1990s) to $3billion (in the early 2000s) due to an emphasis shift from agriculture to industrialization. Agriculture accounts for approximately 30% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GPD but represents 80% of export earnings in other countries. Nwaze is confident that diversification, rural investment, the stemming of migration, and reduction in the gap between rural and the urban populations can boost food productivity and generate income for countries in Africa. (Guardian)

Targeting Gaps in the Food Supply Chain: Going Beyond Agricultural Production to Achieve Food Security (July 14, 2011)

This article from Nourishing the Planet, a project of the Worldwatch Institute, identifies inefficiencies within the current food system and outlines ways in which producers and consumers can work together to increase food security. Recommendations include using low-cost technology, such as cell phones, to give farmers direct access to market information and ensure fair pricing. Such practices will increase market transparency and allow for the fair distribution of food, says Nourishing the Planet. With a growing global population, it is important to address problems in the current food system, rather than only channeling efforts into producing more crops. (Worldwatch Institute)

EU's Increasing Use of Decoupled Domestic Supports in Agriculture: Implications for Developing Countries (March 2011)

The European Union’s (EU) reform of its Common Agricultural Policy does not include any change for subsidies to EU agricultural producers. The EU argues at the World Trade Organization that its supports are no longer trade distorting, since they are not tied to farmers’ production. According to this analytical note, these distortions have far-reaching implications for developing countries, including impacts on small farmers. The EU’s developing country partners negotiating trade agreements should protect themselves against EU-created distortions in agricultural trade. (South Centre)

China Sees Food Need Rising (March 25, 2011)

China’s increasing domestic demand for food could mean a rise in imports of key grains to feed its growing population. China is usually a large net exporter of grains like corn, rice and wheat, so an increase in imports may affect the price of food commodities worldwide. As China’s population becomes wealthier, dietary changes include more meat consumption. According to the Chinese director of the State Council’s office on rural policy, decision-makers should rethink the notion of food self-sufficiency. (Wall Street Journal)

What Would the World Look Like If We Relied on Industrial Agriculture to Feed  Everyone? (March 24, 2011)

Industrial agriculture methods, involving the intensive use of energy, water, machinery, and chemicals to grow crops, cannot be relied upon to feed people in the future. The UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter says that the combination of agronomics and ecological science, known as “Agroecology,” best suits the needs of the 21st century. De Schutter believes that resource efficiency should be the prime objective - saving water, preserving soil, and de-linking agriculture from fossil energies. (AlterNet)

Is the Common Agricultural Policy Sustainable (March 21, 2011)

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that subsidizes European farmers is notable because of the harm it causes to producers in the developing world.  Now, Eastern European farmers, who do not receive high subsidies as their Western European counterparts, are lobbying for reform to make arrangements “more equitable”. This article highlights the many failings of the CAP, and advocates for changing the system. However, this seems improbable at the present. (L’anglophone)

Wheat Seen Rebounding 11% as Global Stockpiles Decline the Most Since 2007 (March 21, 2011)

Global wheat prices have doubled in the past two years due to a combination of factors, including changing weather and grain commodity speculation. Financial market mechanisms create perverse incentives resulting in farmers planting other crops such as soy and cotton chasing higher returns. In order to avoid such problems, governments should better regulate food commodities, particularity grains and cereals. This article analyses the causes of the decline in global stockpiles, such as export bans on farmers in Russia, crop production and increasing food prices resulting in riots. (Bloomberg)

UN Report Says World's Food Stocks at Risk as Bee Colonies Dying Out (March 10, 2011)

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, bees pollinate around 71 of the 100 crop species which provide 90 per cent of food worldwide.  But bees are dying out rapidly. A new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says that toxic chemicals in pesticides cause a loss in the sense of direction and memory for bees, which they rely on to find food. UNEP advises farmers to take more care when applying insecticides and other chemicals, and restore bee-friendly habitats. (The Australian)

EU Ministers to Ban Fish Discards (March 1, 2011)

Fishermen discard more than 10 per cent of all the fish caught for human consumption. As much as two-thirds of the fish caught in some areas ends up back into the water, usually dead, due to the current EU system of fishing quotas. EU Ministers plan to make the most radical change to fisheries policy in 40 years. A common fisheries policy, reform fishing quotas, means that fishermen do not need to throw away large amounts of their catch. (Guardian)

Food Security and National Security (February 23, 2011)

China's approach to "food security as national security" can offer important lessons for the rest of the world. A policy of maintaining an emergency grain reserve means that China does not play a significant role in global grain markets, despite being the world's largest wheat producer. China also stores foods like pork and edible oils. Many other nations do not follow the same approach. This article argues that given the current volatility of the global food system, more countries should look into the idea of food reserves to feed their own populations. (Foreign Policy In Focus)

Predator Fish in Oceans on Alarming Decline, Experts Say (February 20, 2011)

Humans have caught and consumed over 65 per cent of all large fish species in the last 100 years. Experts say that this ecological imbalance will forever change the oceans, with only small fish such as sardines and anchovies thriving in future decades. Overfishing in East Asia is problematic since almost 50 percent of the increase in the world's fish consumption for food comes from that region. The UN Environment program says international organizations and governments should regulate number of fishing boats and the days they fish in order to stabilize fish populations. (The Washington Post)

UN Food Agency Issued Warning on China Drought (February 8, 2011)

China's major agricultural regions are affected by the worst drought in 60 years, threatening crop production and drinking water supplies. Any decision by its government to import large quantities of food will further increase high food prices. The International Rice Research Institute says that the country's grain situation is critical to the entire world. China produces more wheat than any other nation, and is the world's largest importer of soybeans, making them very important to the world food market. (New York Times)

Plundered Fish Stocks: Somalia's Double Piracy (January 31, 2011)

NATO and foreign governments have spent $200 million to flight piracy off the coast of Somalia, but they have failed to address the plundering of Somalia's fisheries by Asian and European fishing fleets. The rapid growth of piracy is linked to the destruction of Somali's local fishing sector. According to the High Seas Taskforce, these illegal fleets break international conventions, destroy marine stocks and deny some of the world's poorest people their source of protein and livelihoods. (The Africa Report)

Emerging Nations Tackle Food Crisis (January 25, 2011)

Developing countries are taking action against rising food prices, including price caps and export bans. Many governments are concerned that speculation on food prices will cause another political crisis, similar to the violent riots in 2008. Indonesia is removing import tariffs on over 50 items including wheat, soybeans, fertilizer and animal feed. India is extending the ban on the export of lentils and cooking oil. The UN and World Bank advise governments to invest more in new production and agricultural infrastructure to match the rising demand for food.  (Wall Street Journal)

National Food Security Act: Universalisation vs Targeted Approach (January 20, 2011)

In India, two fifths of the population is hungry and 75 per cent of Indians lack adequate food and nutrition. At the same time tones of stored grain decay in warehouses.  The government of India is unwilling to reform the system of food distribution to feed hungry people. This article examines the option of an equity-based social framework where agriculture and natural resources are paramount. A legal guarantee through a universal regime of food security is needed to feed hungry people and eradicate poverty in India. (South Asian Citizens Web)

Report: Urgent Action Needed to Avert Global Hunger (January 24, 2011)

The Foresight Report on Food and Farming Futures, a study into food security commissioned by the UK government, says that the current world trade and food production system is unsustainable and fails to end hunger. The report recommends the minimization of waste, as well as the sustainable production of food in order for the system to provide good health and nutrition to a growing world population. The report also calls for government intervention to protect poor people from sharp price increases. (BBC)

Food Speculation: 'People Die From Hunger while Banks Make a Killing on Food' (January 23, 2011)

An extra 75 million people are malnourished due to recent food price rises. But real supply and demand do not determine prices, instead banks, hedge funds and financiers are making billions of dollars by speculating on food. Staple foods as well as cocoa, fruit juices, sugar, meat and coffee are all now global commodities, along with oil, gold and metals. Olivier de Schutter, UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food, has no doubt that speculators are a major cause of rising prices. ( Guardian)

Prices Soar on Crop Woes (January 13, 2011)

The US Agriculture Department reduced its estimates for global harvests of key crops, including corn and soy beans, due to tightening food supplies and rising food prices. Supply constraints reflect the dry weather in South America and Russia and floods in Australia. Another problem is the use of crops by the biofuel industry, which in the US enjoys extensive government incentives. A rising population is putting unsustainable pressures on resources such as water, food and energy, which could cause social and political instability and irreparable environmental damage. (Wall Stret Journal)

How the Farm Lobby Distorts U.S. Foreign Policy (January 7, 2011)

Agribusiness companies in the US are recipients of federal farm subsidies that impact the world economy and the environment. This article examines the influence of the US Farm Lobby on Washington's foreign policy. US farmers export goods like cigarettes and pop corn to blacklisted countries under the guise of "humanitarian aid" through legal loopholes.  Agricultural protectionism by the US is not only detrimental to foreign policy, but also threatens the world trade and food production system.  (Foreign Policy In Focus)

UN Data Notes Sharp Rise in World Food Prices (January 5, 2011)

The price of sugar, grain and oilseed drove world food prices to a record high in December 2010. It is the sixth consecutive month in which the UN food price index has risen. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization warn that prices could rise even higher given the droughts in Argentina and floods in Australia affecting crop yields and commodity prices. Grain prices impact significantly on the food budgets of people in poor countries. An increase in food prices would almost certainly increase world hunger and set off another global food crisis. (New York Times)

EU Reforms Should be More Ambitious - UK (January 5, 2011)

UK agriculture and environment minister, Caroline Spelman, recently chastised EU governments for their Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), because of its enormous cost in a time when government finances are looking wobbly. Spelman proposes to replace direct subsidies with income supports tied to enhanced environmental protection. Farm subsidies in the world's advanced economies are inherently unequal, and when viewed within the broader context of rising food prices, climate change, and increasing protectionism, it is clear that the current system urgently needs modification. (Reuters)

Bees in Freefall as Study Shows Sharp US Decline (January 3, 2011)

The bumblebee is an important pollinator of many agricultural crops around the world, including most fruits, vegetable and nuts as well as coffee, soya beans and cotton. Ninety per cent of the world's commercial plants are dependent on pollination by bees to increase yield. These insects, along with other pollinators, have been in serious decline in the last few decades. There is concern about the impact this could have on global food production. UN conservation strategies may help to mitigate further losses. (Guardian)


Regional Fisheries Stakeholders Urged to Close Ranks (December 14, 2011)

The fisheries sector plays a critical role in reducing poverty, hunger and malnutrition for many developing countries. Coastal states particularly should ensure regional collaboration on shared fish stocks. Recent statistics indicate that fish stocks are continuing to declining due to over-fishing, poaching by unlicensed vessels and illegal fishing. The Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission, regional fisheries bodies and others are working on conservation and protect. (Today)

Myanmar: Concerns Grown Over Opium and Amphetamine Production  (December 13, 2010)

Myanmar is the second largest opium poppy grower in the world, after Afghanistan. Conflict in the north and growing food insecurity is resulting in small-scale farmers growing poppy in order to feed their families. According to this report, 77% of the 1.2 million farmers growing poppy are doing so to pay for food. The production of these drugs is mostly for export within the region and internationally. Without more attention to the human and food insecurity problem, convincing farmers to stop the production of such a lucrative drug will be difficult. (IRIN)

Q & A: Revitalizing Agriculture Starts in a Small Field (December 8, 2010)

Small farmers and local food producers all around the world often find themselves driven off their land. When governments do not invest enough in local agriculture, these farmers are left vulnerable and impoverished. UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter says that the most sustainable solution for developing countries is to reinvest in domestic agriculture to feed their own populations. These countries should also diversify their economies in order to decrease dependency on a limited range of export crops. (IPS)

Developing Countries Must 'Double' Food Production (December 6, 2010)

The International Fund for Agriculture and Development (IFAD) have released a report on volatile food prices, the effects of climate change and a range of natural resource constraints which complicate the fight to end rural poverty. IFAD says that food production will have to increase by 70 per cent to feed the expected world population of 9 billion by 2050. Rural poverty rates have dropped over the last decade. However the situation for women farmers has not improved. Women still face limited access to land tenure, credit and equipment, and market opportunities. (IPS)

Food Prices May Rise By Up to 20%, warns UN (November 17, 2010)

The prices of wheat, maize and other traded foods have risen by up to 40 percent in a few months. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the 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. The food prices would then reach a level not seen since the food crisis in 2008. The price inflation is partly fuelled by food commodity speculation. Legal regulations that control global food speculation are needed before to avoid a repetition of the 2008 crisis and millions of more hungry people. ( Guardian)

US Corn Prices Surge (October 13, 2010)

FAO estimates that 925 million of the world's people are undernourished. Because of the rising US corn price, that number could now grow higher. Even the smallest increase in bushel prices for corn, grain or wheat can have a devastating impact on food availability for millions of people. A weakened dollar has led to rising speculation in the commodity market and increased price volatility, while climate change is diminishing production. Experts fear another global food crisis. (Countercurrents)

The "Green Chomsky" on the Hidden Hunger Crisis (September 27, 2010)

Structural barriers to sustainable development are woven in the malfunctioning neoliberal economic policies. For issues like food security, poverty eradication and reaching a sustainable environment, governments have to think outside the neoliberal box. Neoliberal institutions like the G20 are not looking to help developing countries to become food secure. Instead, developing countries are increasingly dependent on food imports, and the G20 chooses to look the other way since they don't want to hurt the commercial interests of corporate agricultural giants. In this interview, Devinder Sharma explains. (Share the World's Resources)

The Rich Get Richer, the Poor Go Hungry (August 20, 2010)

Western lifestyle often literally means taking food from poor people - the harsh truth is "the hunger of the poor is in part a choice of the rich." Putting limits on food speculation, making cut-backs to the global food trade and assisting poor nations in creating food sovereignty are some of the things that have to be made if hunger is ever going to be defeated. The cause of hunger is not so much about a lack of food as unfair allocations of the world's resources. Acknowledging self-sufficiency is critical and by growing our own food, the power of corporate agriculture will be undermined. (Share the World's Resources)

AFGHANISTAN: Farmers' dilemma - wheat, fruit or saffron? (May 20, 2010)

About 7 million people in Afghanistan, over 24 percent of the country's population, are food insecure. Afghanistan is largely a food deficit country. But wheat although considered a strategic crop and staple food - is not encouraged by the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture. Instead, it promotes export crops like fruit and saffron because they receive a higher price in international markets. Donors such as USAID condone this trade-oriented food production strategy while Afghani people rely on food aid. This is just one example of the distorted global food system that continues to burden people worldwide. (IRIN)

Bill Clinton's Doubletalk on Haitian Agriculture (May 17, 2010)

Bill Clinton has admitted that the US free-market agriculture policy towards Haiti did not work. But the solutions Clinton puts forward, as the UN Special Envoy to Haiti, calls for more of the same failed policies. Clinton's presidential policies toward Haiti deliberately reconfigured the country to fit into the new global division of labor, turning relatively self-sufficient farmers into low-wage workers in assembly plants. Now, Clinton ignores practical ideas put forward by Haitian popular organizations, while the ex-president continues to bolster export-oriented cash crops like coffee, mangos, and avocados. (NACLA)

Liberia Invests in Farmers to Feed Nation (May 19,2010)

Liberia's agricultural sector has been suffering from underdevelopment due to fourteen years of civil war. The Liberian government is now investing in its farmers and creating a long-term plan to counter the stagnation. The government's main priority is food security and decreasing the country's dependence on food imports. In conjunction with the United Nations, the Liberian government developed a food and nutrition program that calls for investing in the country's infrastructure so that Liberian farmers are able to increase food production for national consumption. (Reuters AlertNet)

Cuba: Sustainable Agriculture Moves to Suburbs (May 3, 2010)

Cuba will bring farming to the suburban areas around cities and towns, providing the science and leadership for alternative, localized models of food production. This approach brings food production closer to the urban areas where 76 percent of the island's population lives.  The approach, which will not only provide food but also cultivate carbon sinks, create water basins, and reduce emissions, is based on principles of crop diversity and the use of animals for traction and transport of produce.(IPS)

After the Crisis, Is Now the Moment to Cut Western Farm Subsidies? (March 30, 2010)

$100 billion a year in US and EU farm subsidies are distorting world trade and harming exporters in poor countries. This article asks if the global financial crisis presents an opportunity to get rid of these astounding distortions. Many lobbyists and politicians in high income countries obstruct efforts to reform these policies that devastate poor countries. (Africa Report)

The True Cost of Cheap Food (March 2010)

Cheap food causes poverty and hunger. This article explains the contradictory nature of food and agriculture under globalization. The demand for low food prices means many farmers are getting less money for their crops and struggle to support themselves. As farmers go out of business, long term food security is also at risk.  The author blames the demand for "cheapness "for the food crisis, concluding that there are "some essential things, such as our land and the life-sustaining foods it can produce, that should not be cheapened."  (Resurgence)

Agribusines and the Food Crisis: a New Thrust at Anti Trust (March 22, 2010)

The world's largest agribusiness companies squeeze the agriculture system from both the supply and demand side, threatening food security. Seed prices overall have risen 146 percent in the last decade as many farmers in the US and worldwide have no choice but to buy seeds from Monsanto, the world's largest GM seed company. As well, agribusiness mergers in the last two decades have concentrated the industry's buying power in the hands of a small number of corporations, threatening farmers to "get big, or get out." (Triple Crisis)

Colonialism Lives In Biotech Seed Proposal for Africa (March 20, 2010)

Biotechnology is playing an increasing role in African agriculture. As a result, farmers are becoming more dependent on imported technology -a fact that hinders local sustainability. US companies, Monsanto and Pioneer, plan to export more biotech corn seed to Africa - claiming yields will increase to provide more food and profit for all. However, companies sell seed at a great cost to farmers and enforce strict rules to prohibit sowed seeds being used for future seasons. Moreover, the agricultural methods promoted are designed for monoculture production on large scale acreages (like in the US) and are unsuited to the small scale production methods of African farming. (Institute for Agriculture and Trade)

Large Agribusiness Hurting Small Landholders, says UN Rights Expert (March 5, 2010)

The global food sector is dominated by transnational corporations and as a result small landowners and farmers are suffering, says Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rappotteur on the Right to Food.  De Schutter says that smallholders in developing countries are suffering hunger and poverty because of the tremendous market influence of the companies.  He proposes that governments use tax incentives, legal protection of rights of agricultural workers, and action against foreign suppliers that abuse the rights of local producers. (UN News Centre)

Reclaiming Rice From Rats and Rot (January 14, 2010)

Experts estimate that in 2009 Liberia lost up to 60% of its harvest due to vermin infestation and poor weather conditions. Resultantly food insecurity has increased. In response, UN officials are calling for donors to invest in pest control and food storage systems. Likewise, FAO and the Liberian Agriculture Ministry have recognized the problem and set up "field schools" to train farmers how to protect their crops from pests. (IRIN)

Rwandan Measures to Boost Food Security Bear fruit (January 12, 2010)

Rwanda has recorded a sharp increase in food productivity. In 2009, the Government invested in fertilizer distribution, improving seed stocks and crop husbandry training. Together these investmentshave boosted the output of major food crops such as maize, potatoes, cassava and rice. Rwanda now has sufficient food reserves to meet domestic demands for eight months. (IRIN)


People-Centered Resilience (November 16, 2009)

This report by Oxfam International advocates for building up the resilience of vulnerable farm operations. Building up such resilience not only depends on helping farmers to best manage their resources, but also on collaboration of local, national and global institutions. The report underlines the importance of farmer-driven decisions as well as gender-based policies that aim to meet the specific needs of women farmers. (Oxfam)

Disagreement Over Goals at U.N. Meeting on Hunger (November 17, 2009)

In Rome, the World Summit on Food Security has attracted only few leaders of rich countries. The summit reveals the wide gap between the rich and the poor countries' agriculture and trade policy. In addition, the summit has failed to fulfill expectations on aid and agriculture assistance. Change seems far away and leaders have expressed their concern that the conference will produce little of substance. (New York Times)

Global Food Reserves - Framing the Context for a New Multilateralism (October 2009)

In 2008, food prices reached historically high levels, leaving millions of additional people in hunger. Policy makers and civil society have called for public food reserves in order to stabilize prices and mitigate the food emergency. International agricultural and trade policy have led to price instability, with devastating effects on developing countries. This paper calls for a discussion in which food reserves form part of a reformed trade system. (Share the World's Resources)

Tackling the climate crisis from the ground up (October 2009)

Industrial agriculture plays a key role in the climate crisis. Agro industry heavily uses fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides, which damage natural soil fertility. According to this report from GRAIN, agro industry depletes soil, which results in up to two third of the excess carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. GRAIN sharply criticizes this highly concentrated food system and calls for a fundamental policy change and the return to small-scale and ecologically friendly farming. (GRAIN)

Africa and Global Food Crisis (September 3, 2009)

In this interview with Afroline, Olivier de Schutter, a UN special rapporteur, clarifies different aspects of the African food crisis. De Schutter puts the emphasis on discrimination and marginalization rather than imbalance of supply and demand, to explain the current hunger problem in Africa. The UN rapporteur touches also the controversial issue of "land grabbing", as oil-rich countries buy lands in poor countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. (Pambazuka)

Food and Energy: An Inflationary Duet (April 6, 2009)

Food production and energy consumption are closely interlinked. Due to the heavy use of fertilizer, the agriculture industry depends more than ever on energy inputs. The long-term trend of high energy prices threatens the food system. The environmental movement favors a return to local and organic farming in order to close the inflationary price gap. (CIBC World Markets)

European Subsidies Stray From the Farm (July 17, 2009)

The EU promotes the world's biggest agricultural aid program and spends almost €53 billion in subsidies - half of its annual budget. Non-traditional farming companies receive an important share of the aid, which contradicts the original idea of production incentives and price support. Further, farmland ownership already entitles landlords to subsidies regardless of agricultural use. The Queen of England and airport caterers are among recipients of this giant subsidy system. (NY Times)

A Food System that Kills (April 2009)

Experts claim that the industrial food system and the factory farm model lie at the roots of the Mexican borne swine flu.   For years, public authorities have ignored early warning signs about the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of intensive meat production and have instead supported corporate cover-ups.  Pharmaceutical companies and vaccine producers reap the benefits from the swine epidemic and public authorities continue to prioritize the interests of large corporations instead of the health of local communities. (GRAIN)

The Soils of War (March 2009)

Following the military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) developed agricultural reconstruction programs, aimed at helping farmers rebuild their agricultural activities and providing alternatives to the cultivation of opium. However, these agricultural reconstruction programs legitimize the US military occupation and enable foreign seed companies and agribusiness to establish their presence in a potentially lucrative market. The symbiotic work between US military and agribusiness jeopardizes Afghan farmers' livelihoods and gives a monopoly to US companies over seed supply to Afghanistan. After the "complete" withdrawal of combat troops, the remaining military forces will serve as aid workers to safeguard US military power in Afghanistan and Iraq and protect US corporate interests. (GRAIN)

Voices from Africa; African Farmers and Environmentalists Speak Out Against a New Green Revolution in Africa (March 2009)

African farmers, researchers and civil society speak out against Western-led campaigns which champion genetically engineered (GE) crops as a solution to world hunger. Compiling experiences and voices from African opposition, this report challenges the Gates Foundation's Alliance for a New Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The document complements a UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) report, which reveals the likelihood of biotech solutions deepening, rather than solving hunger problems. As the West exploits the food crisis as an opportunity to promote GM crops,"Voices from Africa" urges Africa to resist bullying tactics that force the continent to adopt biotechnology solutions. Instead, the report emphasizes investment in small-scale agriculture, which will enable farmers to take control over food production.(Oakland Institute)

Food Speculation the Main Factor of the Price Bubble in 2008 (February 21, 2009)

Even mainstream economists acknowledge that speculation in commodity markets contributed to the rise in food prices in 2007/2008, which pushed millions more people into hunger. After the subprime mortgage bubble burst and stocks began to fall in the US, institutional investors sought new high-return bets for their money, moving onto speculation in commodity markets. This distorted the price of food staples such as rice and contributed to rapidly rising food prices. To avoid such speculation in the future, the author recommends a food trade register at the commodity exchanges and corresponding regulation of commercial traders. (World Economy, Ecology and Development)

UN Seeks a Green Revolution (February 19, 2009)

A new study produced by the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), entitled "The Environmental Food Crisis," warns that unless the global systems of agricultural production undergo radical change, millions more will go hungry. Demonstrating the success of organic agricultural models, UNEP Executive Director states that future agricultural production must adopt methods that increase crop yields without creating the environmental and social damage that resulted from industrial agricultural production. Agro-businesses tread carefully! (Inter Press Service)

Food Security and Global Warming; Monsanto versus Organic (January 16, 2009)

Monsanto hails its genetically engineered drought-tolerant corn as a solution to food security in the face of global warming. But research findings reveal the flaws of genetically engineered crops, which suffer yield losses under the erratic weather patterns caused by climate change. This article argues that agricultural policy must prioritize needs of food-insecure famers, not profit-driven agribusinesses. Organic farming practices require fewer energy inputs and withstand impacts like drought more efficiently. Organic farming offers smallholder farmers a more accessible and affordable option to exorbitantly priced GM crops. (Grist)

A 50-year Farm Bill (January 5, 2009)

This article urges for a farm bill that addresses the problems of industrialized agriculture, which has lead to soil loss, pollution, the destruction of rural communities and made our food supply dependent on fossil fuels. The authors argue that a national agricultural policy based on ecological principles is needed in order to keep up production and to preserve the land. The proposals to protect the soil and to reduce greenhouse gases include increasing the mixture of grain-bearing perennials and using crop rotations, which would simultaneously increase employment opportunities in agriculture. (New York Times)


Agriculture at a Crossroads (2008)

Agriculture is multifunctional with commodity and non-commodity outputs. The International Assessment of Agriculture Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) has released a benchmark report. This assessment addresses the challenges to increase agricultural productivity on a sustainable base and to create opportunities for small-scale farms. It takes into account the multiple dimensions of agriculture and emphasizes the need to incorporate agricultural knowledge, science and technology in order to fight hunger and poverty. (IAASTD)

Speculation Undermines the Right to Food (October 23, 2008)

Speculation on agricultural commodities increases food prices and undermines food security for low-income countries, where people generally spend about 60-80 percent of their income on food. This report argues that governments worldwide should register speculators in a "trade register" to control trade and prevent speculation on food commodities. (Eurodad)

Making Financial Markets Work for Development (October 2008)

This working paper for the International Follow-Up Conference in Doha November 2008, proposes a new financial architecture including a special tax on capital assets and improved supervision of investors. The paper describes the current financial system as a "casino economy," based on competition, speculation and pursuit of profit, which contributes to increasing food prices and makes the poor pay the costs of the global financial crisis. (Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst)

The World Food Crisis: What's Behind It and What We Can Do About It (October 6, 2008)

This report outlines the root causes of the global food crisis and addresses problems, such as trade conditions, biofuel production and financial speculation. Further, the report points out that many people participate in "riots" against the conditions of the global food system. (Institute for Food and Development Policy)

Darfur Withers as Sudan Sells Food (August 10, 2008)

Sudan, a country that receives a billion pounds of food from international donors, is exporting its own crops and capitalizing on high global food prices. Government officials argue that building up the agricultural sector will diversify Sudan's economy and make the country self-sufficient. However, millions are starving in the conflict-ridden region of Darfur as international aid agencies struggle to deliver food. The Sudanese government continues to disrupt efforts of aid agencies to feed the people in Darfur at a time when international organizations lack adequate funds to purchase and deliver food. (New York Times)

Hoarding Nations Drive Food Costs Ever Higher (June 30, 2008)

Conventional economists argue that everyone will benefit if countries specialize in producing a few different food commodities and import the rest. But without any protection of the domestic market, farmers in poorer countries must compete with commodities subsidized by richer countries. As over 29 countries have restricted food exports to ensure that their people have enough to eat, the import-dependent countries have even less access to food. A group of food-importing countries is promoting an agreement in the Doha Development Round to prevent countries from unilaterally restricting exports. (New York Times)

Facing Inflation, Asia Gets More Aggressive (June 11, 2008)

People are protesting the soaring prices of oil and food throughout Asia. In Vietnam, low-wage factory workers are on strike against the 70 percent increase in food prices since 2007 that has in turn led to a 25 percent inflation rate. Policymakers across Asia are responding to social discontent by raising interest rates to curb high inflation, says Christian Science Monitor. However, Asian governments are facing a dilemma - they must raise interest rates without undermining growth because their popularity is contingent upon a booming economy.

The World Food Summit: A Lost Opportunity (June 10, 2008)

The World Food Summit declaration neglects to address the root causes of global food insecurity. World leaders failed to reach a solution on biofuel production, even though the International Food Policy Research Institute calculated that "production of biofuel is responsible for 30% of the rise in food prices." Furthermore, the declaration urged governments to reduce trade restrictions, even though trade liberalization is one of the main causes of the food crisis. (OpenDemocracy)

Development: 'Food Production Must Rise 50 Percent' (June 4, 2008)

Director General of the World Trade Organization Pascal Lamy claims that liberalizing trade will "strengthen the production capacity of developing countries" and render food prices less vulnerable to change. But, the author fears that further deregulation of trade will make food prices more volatile and allow large multinational companies to undermine local production in poor countries. Finding a sustainable solution will require world leaders to increase investment in agriculture and support small-scale farmers' agro-ecological methods. (Inter Press Service)

Destroying African Agriculture (June 3, 2008)

This Foreign Policy In Focus article argues that the shift of countries from net-exporters to net-importers of food caused the global food crisis. The author criticizes the IMF and World Bank's structural adjustment programs that lowered countries' investments and social spending. Several poor countries dedicated land for export crops to service their debt to the World Bank and IMF. As a result, food production has declined and food insecurity has grown. For example, from 1966-70, Africa exported an average 1.3 million tons of food a year but almost all African countries are now net food importers.

Secretary General's Address at High-level Conference on World Food Security (June 3, 2008)

At the UN Food Summit in Rome, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made several short- and long-term recommendations to address the food crisis. Although he recommended implementing social protection programs and supporting smallholder farming, Ban also endorsed more controversial measures such as a Green Revolution in Africa and minimizing trade restrictions. Despite widespread criticism of biofuels, the Secretary General neglected to acknowledge how biofuel production leads to food shortages. (UN News)

Manufacturing a Food Crisis (June 2, 2008)

The 2008 global food crisis demonstrates the destructiveness of the "one-two punch of IMF-imposed adjustment and WTO-imposed trade liberalization." These policies have steadily marginalized farmers, and transformed self-sufficient agricultural economies into vulnerable, import-dependent ones. Large industrial farms and grain-trading corporations control the global food market. However, poor countries increasingly defy World Bank, IMF and WTO policies – with fruitful results – and farmer's movements such as the Via Campesina are gaining in influence. (The Nation)

In Grip of Financial Markets (May-June 2008)

Economists argue that increased speculation in agricultural commodities is pushing up food prices, a phenomenon termed as "agflation." But, others argue that agro-prices are still recovering from their dramatic decrease of the 1980s. The price of corn, for example, is still below the 1945-1980 average. Although analysts have differing theories, the author concludes that speculation is one of the many causes of the global food crisis. (World Economy and Development in Brief)

Why We Face Both Food and Water Crises (May 15, 2008)

In this interview, physicist Vandana Shiva explains that the global economic structure is incompatible with the basic physics of the planet. Unsustainable, large-scale agriculture not only "displaces small peasants, creates poverty and bad food," but also emits a huge quantity of carbon into the atmosphere, causing climate instability. Perversely, large agribusinesses with a stranglehold of the world economy, such as Cargill and Monsanto, harvest super-profits while people starve. (AlterNet)

What Michael Pollan Hasn't Told You About Food (May 15, 2008)

Raj Patel, author of the book "Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System," wants consumers to stop feeling guilty about eating unhealthy foods. Instead, consumers should get angry at the food corporations that have chipped away at their ability to choose, leaving low-income families with the so-called choice between "Burger King and MacDonald's, and between Pepsi and Coke." Patel argues that major food producers have spent millions on research and marketing to convince their customers to eat unhealthy food that only benefits the corporations. (AlterNet)

Artificial Foods and Corporate Crops: Can We Escape the "Frankenstate"? (May 2, 2008)

This article criticizes the effect of industrial agriculture on global food security. The author points out that a few large corporations have patented or genetically modified most of the plants humans rely on for their basic needs. These corporations use chemical and genetic technologies to "dominate agricultural production from seed to stomach and to profit from every bite." In addition, industrial food production exhausts Earth's basic biological support systems, and makes the planet more vulnerable to climate change. (AlterNet)

Seven Reasons Why the Doha Round Will Not Solve the Food Crisis (May 2008)

Some world leaders argue that the WTO Doha Round will solve the global food crisis. But, this Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy (IATP) article says increased trade liberalization will reinforce poorer countries' dependence on food imports. Further, deregulation policies will increase the power of transnational agribusinesses at the expense of local farmers. Instead, the IATP argues, world leaders should reform the rules governing international trade to control the market power exerted by agribusiness companies.

Cargill – A Corporate Threat to Food and Farming (May 2008)

Cargill is one of a handful of corporations that control the global system of food production and agriculture. By selling farmers agricultural input, and then buying outputs for further processing, Cargill has created a worldwide agricultural system in which it is "both buyer and seller" and has near unlimited freedom to maximize profit. In this report, Food & Water Watch warns that Cargill's enormous and under-regulated influence on global agricultural trade threatens the health of consumers, family farmers, the environment and even entire economies and governments.

Making a Killing from Hunger (April 2008)

Since the 1970s, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund pushed for large-scale industrial agriculture, trade liberalization and other structural adjustment policies in poor countries, causing the "structural meltdown" that led to the global food crisis. The global market system – which puts the needs of investors before the nutritional needs of humans – has transformed food from nourishment into a commodity for speculation and bargaining. Nearly all corporate players in the global food chain reported record profits after the first quarter of 2008. These corporations are "making a killing from the food crisis." (GRAIN)

Agriculture and Development (April 2008)

An international research project consisting of 900 representatives from multilateral organizations, civil society, national governments, the private sector and scientific institutions has produced a report that evaluates the "relevance, quality and effectiveness of agricultural knowledge, science and technology" (AKST) on development. This summary of the International Assessment on Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report concludes that small-scale farmers and their traditional agricultural knowledge should play a greater role in production. Also, the report criticizes genetic modification (GM) in agriculture, pointing out that research on long-term effects of GM is lagging behind. The study warns that patenting genetic modifications undermines local farming practices and concentrates the ownership of resources. (GreenFacts)

Grain Companies' Profits Soar as Global Food Crisis Mounts (April 30, 2008)

Hungry people are protesting around the globe as they struggle to feed themselves in the face of massive commodity price rises. Large agribusinesses claim they are working to solve the food crisis. Monsanto plans to design genetically modified crops that "can squeeze even more yield from each acre of planted grain." But "Big Agriculture" actually benefits from the food crisis. Monsanto's profit in the last quarter (February 2008) more than doubled, while Cargill's profit jumped 42 percent in the same period. (Wall Street Journal)

Europe: Subsidies Feed Food Scarcity (April 25, 2008)

European subsidies for agriculture are contributing to rapidly rising food prices and the destruction of small-scale farming. These massive subsidies artificially cheapen EU products, making it impossible for small-scale farmers in poorer countries to compete. Critics have long protested the way in which these subsidies distort global agriculture and trade. In light of the 2008 food crisis, the EU subsidies are under heavy fire, from poor countries who suffer most, but also from within, by EU politicians and policymakers. (Inter Press Service)

Liberians Drop Rice for Spaghetti (April 22, 2008)

In the first half of 2008, the price of rice more than doubled, making it unaffordable for many Liberians, who have switched from rice to cheaper staple foods like spaghetti. Liberia depends almost completely on foreign imports of rice from the US and Asia. While the Liberian Minister for Agriculture optimistically notes that this might be an opportunity for Liberians to diversify their diets, this example shows how vulnerable poor, net food importing countries are to price shocks on the global market. (BBC)

Food Safety on the Butcher's Block (April 18, 2008)

Korean authorities have found bone fragments – even an entire spine - in shipments of US beef. Consequently, South Korea banned the import of US beef, as it did not comply with Korean food safety standards. This article reports on how the US uses Free Trade Agreement (FTA) "negotiations" to force South Korea to remove the ban on US beef and relax food safety standards. Besides the health risk involved, domestic farmers get pushed off the market by subsidized US imports. The author concludes that FTAs pressure weaker nations into relinquishing their food sovereignty, their control of national food safety and their right to reject genetically modified products. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Face It, We All Aren't Going to Become Vegetarians (April 18, 2008)

Biofuel production and livestock are important causes of the global food crisis. Both divert huge amounts of grain away from human mouths: 100 million and 760 million tons, respectively. The author states that consumers should eat as little meat as possible. The author concludes that it seems surreal that while half the world might not have anything to eat at all, those in rich countries have endless choices and barely notice the global food crisis. "It is hard to understand how two such different food economies could occupy the same planet, until you realize that they feed off each other." (AlterNet)

A Man-Made Famine (April 15, 2008)

This article is highly critical of World Bank president Robert Zoellick's calls for further trade liberalization as a response to the global food crisis. According to the author, trade liberalization is not the solution but the cause of the food crisis. The 2007-2008 food price rises have had such a severe effect on the world's poor because of the trade liberalization the World Bank, World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund propagate. These policies limit social safety nets and public sector agricultural support, push small-scale farmers out of the market, and lead to the sale of grain stockpiles to service foreign debt. Consequently, there is no "buffer between price shocks and the bellies of the poorest people on earth." (Guardian)

A Time of High Prices: An Opportunity for the Rural Poor? (April 2008)

This Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy report argues that while high commodity prices – such as those of 2007 and 2008 – can potentially benefit farmers, this is not the case in the short-term. The immediate effects of high food prices are to place extreme stress on the urban and rural poor of net-food importing, low-income countries. The IATP urges trade ministers at the UN Conference on Trade and Development in Accra, 2008 (UNCTAD XII) to review three decades of commodity market liberalization critically and to take action to rebalance power relations in agricultural markets.

Rising Food Prices, What Should Be Done? (April 2008)

Joachim von Braun, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute, calls for policy action in three areas to address the massive rise in food prices. Firstly, he proposes the implementation of social safety nets to help the poor who can no longer afford essential foodstuffs. Secondly, he calls for increased investment in agriculture. Finally, stating that export restrictions and import subsidies only add to global trade distortions that harm poor countries, he calls for other trade policy reforms, such as the removal of trade barriers by rich countries.

A New Philanthro-Capitalist Alliance in Africa? (March 31, 2008)

This article analyzes the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an initiative by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. AGRA aims to end poverty and hunger by restructuring Africa's food systems. But, this reform may ultimately serve the interests of agribusinesses like Monsanto, by creating a new market for genetically modified seeds and agrochemicals. AGRA's philanthro-capitalism overrides local agricultural techniques by focusing on global market-based "solutions." This diverts attention from the role that global markets systemically play in creating hunger and poverty in the first place. (Pambazuka)

Priced Out of the Market (March 3, 2008)

This New York Times editorial discusses the human cost of the "rich world's subsidized appetite for biofuels." When it seemed that global food supply might run out in the past, food production grew to meet demand. This time it might not be so easy, with the demand for biofuels diverting food into energy for cars, rather than human beings.


World Food Stocks Dwindling Rapidly, UN Warns (December 17, 2007)

The UN warns against massive price increases for food grains and declining global food stocks, officials say as a result, the world's poor are facing "a perfect storm." Both supply and demand side factors have produced these changes – global warming, increased production for animal feed and biofuels. The World Food Program representatives believe that the change in these factors is permanent. (International Herald Tribune)

Ending Famine, Simply by Ignoring the Experts (December 1, 2007)

In 2005, a famine struck Malawi and a third of the population needed emergency food aid. In 2007, the same country is the number one southern African supplier of corn to the World Food Program. The Malawian government ignored the World Bank's pressure to implement free market policies and to cut back on subsidies, and instead deepened their fertilizer subsidies, boosting the productivity of the country's agriculture. (International Herald Tribune)

World Cereal Prices to Remain High, Warns UN Report (November 12, 2007)

Global cereal prices are increasing due to low global food stocks and higher transportation costs. The prices of cereal cause food inflation across the world, and further increase the price of bread, meat and milk. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) expect prices to remain high for several years, which could result in hunger for the world's poor, as they will be unable to purchase sufficient amounts of food. (OneWorld South Asia)

Global Food Crisis Looms as Climate Change and Fuel Shortages Bite (November 3, 2007)

The price of food is increasing worldwide and several countries are on the brink of a food crisis. The reason for the increase is due to a combination of rising oil prices, greater amounts of food crops used for bio-fuel production, and unstable weather conditions. The rise in food prices has devastating consequences for the world's poor who cannot afford to buy basic necessities and food to live above the subsistence level. (Guardian)

Unpredictable Weather Patterns, Diversion of Grain for Biofuels, Contribute to Growing Food Shortages (September 28, 2007)

The author of this YaleGlobal article expresses concern over a looming global food crisis. Food crop harvests are falling while consumption is increasing, and the author fears this will lead to social and political unrest. Also worrying is the increasing share of agriculture devoted to biofuels. Combined with growing consumption, environmental degradation, watershortages and urbanization and massive agricultural subsidies in rich countries this could spell disaster. Further, climate change leaves poor equatorial countries extremely vulnerable to weather changes and seasonal variation.

Historic Surge in Crop Prices Roils Markets (September 28, 2007)

Crop prices are rising to historic levels, reversing a long-term trend of steadily lowering world crop prices. For the third consecutive year the world is consuming more food grain than it produces, making the gap between demand and supply the largest in thirty years. This has dramatic consequences for poor countries as they are increasingly vulnerable to bad harvests. Further, high food grain prices will reduce poor countries' purchasing power and hinder economic growth. Also, humanitarian groups fear that they will lose ground against hunger, as their food aid budgets will not reach as far as planned. (Wall Street Journal)

US-Korean Food Fight (August 24, 2007)

This Foreign Policy in Focus article illustrates the negative economic effects of the US-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on Korean agriculture. The FTA would seriously undermine Korean agricultural production and food safety laws, leading to a complete restructuring of the local agricultural practice. Korea's National Policy Institute estimates that the country's agriculture may well disappear within the next 10-15 years as a result of the new FTA. Washington has suggested that the FTA could function as a blueprint for other US trade liberalization agreements with countries across Asia, which would lead to similar adverse consequences.

How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor (April 24, 2007)

A surge in demand for alternative fuels such as ethanol has caused the price of corn to rise to its highest level in ten years. Because corn is a staple food for billions of impoverished people around the world, these price increases have "potentially devastating implications for both global poverty and food security," argues this Foreign Affairs article. The authors further point out that "political and corporate interests" dominate the ethanol industry, so that corn growers in rich countries receive substantial government subsidies which diminish the competitiveness of their developing country counterparts.

Deadly Combination: The Role of Southern Governments and the World Bank in the Rise of Hunger (2007)

This report published by Norwegian Church Aid, Danish Church Aid, Church of Sweden and Brot-fur-die-Welt finds that ever since African governments began liberalizing trade, food security has worsened on the continent. In particular, economic liberalization has harmed poor subsistence farmers. The author suggests that to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015,the World Bank and local governments must abandon their present governance and liberalization policies.



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