Global Policy Forum

General Analysis on Hunger

Picture Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Hunger and food issues are a global problem. Although the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights identifies food as a human right, globalized inequalities significantly impact access to food. Rising food prices, industrialized agriculture, environmental destruction, and non-egalitarian distribution contribute to this problem. International aid and domestic policies often prevent systemic reform and derail efforts to feed the world’s hungry.

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GPF Perspectives

NGO UN Food Statement (September 2011)

The NGO Working Group on Food & Hunger in New York has just published a major Statement on food policy. The Working Group is calling upon the United Nations General Assembly to adopt a strong resolution addressing world food insecurity. Policymakers must abandon the current interest-driven industrial food system for ecological methods that preserve rural communities, protect resilience and promote environmental sustainability. NGOs working on this issue in Rome have endorsed the Statement and join the Working Group in this call for action. (NGO Working Group on Food & Hunger)

Interactive Thematic Dialogue of the UN General Assembly on the Global Food Crisis and the Right to Food (April 6, 2009)

In this document, Global Policy Forum provides a detailed account of the General Assembly's thematic dialogue on the food crisis and the right to food. Member states have different priorities when it comes to designing solutions to the food crisis, but the dialogue shows that most states recognize the "right to food" as part of the solution. The rights concept shifts the focus from questions of food scarcity and instead places attention on states' obligation to fulfill a human right. A rights-based approach transforms the hungry from voluntary aid recipients to rights-holders. (Global Policy Forum)

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)

UN Documents

Special Rapporteur issues final report (March 12, 2014)

In his final report to the UN Human Rights Council after a six-year term as Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter calls for the world’s food systems to be radically and democratically redesigned. “Objectives such as supplying diverse, culturally-acceptable foods to communities, supporting smallholders, sustaining soil and water resources, and raising food security within particularly vulnerable areas, must not be crowded out by the one-dimensional quest to produce more food,” he urges.

Report: Global right to food movement emerging - UN Food Expert (October 29, 2013)

In his final report to the UN General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food asks the following questions of burning interest: What is the global state of play on the right to food? Are steps being taken to make food a legal entitlement, and which actors are driving the process forward? How can country-led processes towards the institutionalization of the right to food be supported, and does such institutionalization contribute to the eradication of hunger and malnutrition? (SR Food)

Five Ways to Tackle Disastrous Diets – UN Food Expert (March 6, 2012)

Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, holds Western countries responsible for lining the shelves of global supermarkets with unhealthy products. In his report to the UN Human Rights Council, he criticizes OECD’s misguided agricultural subsidies for wasting taxpayer dollars on producing and marketing these heavily processed foods. In 2010, for example, US companies spent $8.5 billion advertising unhealthy food, candy and non-alcoholic beverages. De Schutter calls for taxation and regulation of unhealthy food, and recommends new policies to support local systems of food production, instead. (SR Food)

General Assembly Resolution "Agriculture Development and Food Security" (December 22, 2011)

On December 22th 2011, at its sixty-sixth session, the General Assembly adopted the resolution on Agriculture Development and Food Security (A/RES/66/220)

General Assembly Resolution "Addressing excessive price volatility in food and related financial and commodity markets" (December 22, 2011)

On December 22th 2011, at its sixty-sixth session, the General Assembly adopted the resolution to address excessive price volatility in food and related financial and commodity markets. (A/RES/66/188) 

General Assembly Resolution "The Right to Food" (December 19, 2011)

On December 19th 2011, at its sixty-sixth session, the General Assembly adopted the resolution on the right to food. (A/RES/66/158)

UN Expert Urges Leaders at G-20 Summit to Put Right to Food before Industry Interests (October 31, 2011)

In a statement to the G20, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier de Schutter said that governments must address speculation and end biofuel subsidies if they want to tackle food insecurity. He called on leaders to go beyond rhetoric and adopt a bold action plan eliminating biofuel mandates and the commodification of staple crops. (UN News Centre)

Achieving the Right to Food: From Global Governance to National Implementation (October 17, 2011)

In this address to the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) UN Special Rapporteur Olivier de Schutter highlights the innovative approaches that countries from Latin American and Africa have adopted in order to integrate the universal right to food in national food security policies. De Schutter suggests several ways that the CFS could support these initiatives, including yearly reviews of the implementation of adopted guidelines by member states. The late October meetings were the first time the CFS met since it was reformed in November 2009. (SR Food)

The State of Food Insecurity in the World (September 2011)

The latest report on Food Insecurity in the World identifies food price volatility as a major contributing factor to global food insecurity. It calls for increased long-term investment in the agricultural sector and emphasizes the importance of initiatives that support small farmers. The report was jointly produced by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP). (FAO)

Agriculture: Higher Prices Here to Stay, says OCED - FAO Report (June 17, 2011)

Food prices have grown steadily from 2001 - 2010 and data from a new joint report by  the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED) and  the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) forecasts that prices will continue to rise in the next decade. Although good harvests in the coming years will help decrease commodity prices, per capita food consumption is expected to rise and real prices for cereals may average up to 20% higher and meats as much as 30% higher. The report calls for greater investment in agriculture and states that particular attention should be paid to “reinforcing rural development in developing countries.” (OCED)

New Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (May 1, 2011)

The UN Human Rights Council has renewed Prof. Olivier de Schutter’s mandate to serve as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. In this statement released at the beginning of his second 3-year mandate, De Schutter comments on the current food crises and the need for governments to address the imbalance of power in food systems. He endorses the shift towards sustainable agriculture and commits to continuing to address issues of land grabbing and food security. (United Nations)

Women in Agriculture: Closing the Gender Gap for Development (March 9, 2011)

Women contribute significantly to rural agriculture in developing countries. Whilst the role of women differs, they all lack access to land, livestock, education, financial services, technology and rural employment opportunities, when compared with men. The UN Food and Agriculture Organizations' report on the State of Food and Agriculture says that closing the gender gap in agricultural could lift up to 150 million people out of hunger. Agricultural development and global food security rely on the empowerment of women and achieving gender equality. (FAO)

Global Food Price Monitor (March 3, 2011)

Global food prices continue to rise. This briefing by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization examines the price increase in key food commodities such as cereal, meat and dairy products. With global food consumption outpacing supply, prices are expected to increase over the next ten years and remain at levels above the past decade. (FAO)

ECOSOC Briefing on Rising Food Prices (February 18, 2011)

This briefing of the UN Economic and Social Council contains a discussion of the impacts and effects of rising food prices on agricultural production, food security and development as well as the UN's response. Representatives of the Food and Agricultural Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the World Food Programme and the Coordinator of the Secretary General's High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security Crisis seek an understanding of the fundamentals of rising food prices. (ECOSOC)

World Food Price Index (January 2011)

The data in this index shows monthly and annual food price movement from 1990 to 2010, reflecting the rapid price increases of 2008 and 2010-2011. For many low-income households, food price rises result in hunger. The World Food Price Index, compiled by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, consists of six commodity group price indices: meat, diary, cereals, sugar, oils and fats for a total of 55 commodities. (FAO)

The Right to Adequate Food - Fact Sheet (September 2010)

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization jointly developed a fact sheet to explain the right to food. It provides an overview of national, regional and international accountability and monitoring with respect to food as a human right. The publication outlines the link between human rights, the promotion of food security and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. MDG Goal 1 is to reduce hunger by half by 2015.

High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis; Programme of Work for 2009 (February 2009)

In response to the world hunger crisis, the UN High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis identifies key areas for their work plan. The Task Force will coordinate national strategies to address the financial support for both immediate plans and long term investment, engage all stakeholders involved in food security through wide participation and monitor the program's progress to ensure accountability.

Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (January 31, 2009)

Oliver de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food summarizes the outcomes of the UN "High Level Meeting on Food Security for All," which took place in January 2009 in Madrid. He outlines what the UN means by the "right to food" and advises that nations should recognize the right to food in their national strategies to address hunger. Guidelines towards achieving the right to food recommends integrating small-scale farmers into the global economy and reshaping trade rules to make trade work for the poor. Further steps include ensuring farmers' ownership of, and access to land, as well as protection of agricultural sector workers against labor rights violations. (United Nations)


2013 l 2012 l 2011 | 2010 | 2009 l Archived Articles


After the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food Oliver de Schutter visited Malaysia the conclusion was that “As Malaysia rises to ‘high-income status’, it must focus on the most vulnerable”. Despite progress, de Schutter notes a series of remaining challenges. “Ending poverty means effectively safeguarding against exploitation,” he underscores, referring to the precarious situation of up to 4 million migrant workers currently working in Malaysia, primarily on palm oil plantations.

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, has called for developing countries to be granted the freedom to use food reserves to help secure the right to food without being sanctioned by the WTO. In his speech he said that “It should not be forgotten that developed countries are able to subsidize their farmers to the tune of more than US$ 400 billion per year, without breaching WTO rules. Support must also be allowed to reach smallholders in developing countries.” The G33 group of developing countries has also proposed exempting public stockholding aimed at supporting low-income or resource-poor producers from being considered as a trade-distorting subsidy.

20 civil society groups have issued an appeal to the World Trade Organisation to take the issue of food security in developing countries as a matter of serious and immediate concern, and not to render the G-33 proposal on public food stockholding a travesty by asking developing countries to agree to the current text on the peace clause.

Both an oral and a written statement have been submitted by FIAN International on behalf of 14 organizations advocating for the economic, social, and cultural rights of women in rural communities, to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on its General Discussion on Rural Women, 56th Session, on October 7, 2013.

On the occasion of the Global Day of Action for Food Sovereignty, La Via Campesina, a global movement of millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world, calls for international support. Stating that the global food crisis can only be ended by food sovereignty and agro-ecological production, La Via Campesina urges "we should show the strength and diversity of our movements, coordinating actions against transnational agribusinesses like Monsanto, against land grabbing, against the use of pesticides and genetically modified seeds." (La Via Campesina)

The Right to Food and Nutrition Watch has issued its annual publication for 2013. The title of the report is ‘Alternatives and Resistance to Policies that Generate Hunger’ and surrounds the policies that are in place that carry forth the social issues of hunger and malnutrition rather than reducing and putting a halt to them. It also reveals case studies on policies that foster violence and discrimination against women, policies that systematically limit and exclude large groups, such as peasants and agricultural workers, and policies on a global level that facilitate land grabbing.

A Report on the State of Corporate Concentration in Agriculture Industry (September 12, 2013)

ETC Group publishes its 111th Communiqué today. The 40-page report – “Putting the Cartel before the Horse…Who Will Control Agricultural Inputs?” – provides market data on the world’s major corporate players involved in food and agriculture and analysis of key sectors in the corporate food chain. The report concludes that cartel arrangements are commonplace and the oligopoly paradigm is dominating the entire food system. (ETC Group)

Stop the hunger brokers (September 4, 2013)

"Few forms of financial speculation are as perverse or damaging as the speculation in food prices, or have such dramatic and immediate effects. Despite this, the financial lobby has skillfully defended its territory and if politicians lack focus, the plans to curb speculation might be lost at the last moment," writes European lobby-watchdog Corporate Europe Obeservatory (CEO) in an article published yesterday. (Corporate Europe Observatory)

Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition Launched in Vienna (June 24, 2013)

The Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition was launched in Vienna on 24 June 2013 as part of the Vienna+20 action week, celebrated 20 years after UN World Conference on Human Rights. The Network has 20 founding organizations aiming to open space for dialogue and mobilization to hold states accountable and support social movements and groups standing up to violations of the right to adequate food and nutrition. (FIAN International)

Why Food Riots Are Likely to Become the New Normal (March 7, 2013)

The Arab Spring was partly triggered by a huge rise in food prices, which have continued to remain high across the world. One elemental factor behind this escalation is poor crop harvests, caused by dramatic global climate changes. Rice yields have plummeted by 10-20% in the past ten years, which is indicative of the unsustainability of the global food system. Oil prices have also spiked, pushing the global economy into further crisis and also affecting the oil-dependent industrial food system. Speculation on food by investment banks further elevates the high prices, widening the gap between the worlds’ rich and poor. The inter-connectivity of climate change, economic difficulties, oil dependency and the global food crisis is glaring, and serves to foster social unrest. According to a new report by the Royal Society, if this cycle is not broken, we may “face the prospect of civilization collapse.” (Guardian)


UN Special Rapporteur, Dr Olivier de Schuttier, presented a new report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva entitled “Gender and the Right to Food”. The report argues that discrimination against women is prevalent in societies, despite anti-discriminatory international laws. It shows that women are burdened with an unequal distribution of family responsibilities and have less of a voice in decision-making in households and communities than men. Agriculture has witnessed a gradual feminization since the responsibility of providing food for their families is often assigned to women. However, access to education and farming resources is often restricted, inhibiting food production and distribution. De Schuttier calls for policy initiatives to empower women and announced to the Council that “sharing power with women is a shortcut to reducing hunger and malnutrition, and is the single most effective step to realizing the right to food.” 

New Era of Food Scarcity Echoes Collapsed Civilisations (February 7, 2013)

Growing populations, climate change and high consumer demand have caused grain stocks to become worryingly strained. This in turn is driving up food prices and has led to a global race for land and water resources. Grain reserves across the globe have dropped by one third in the past ten years and food prices have more than doubled.  Many earlier civilizations, including the Sumerians and Mayans, collapsed due to an unsustainable agricultural system. Lester Brown, the president of Earth Policy Institute, warns that without a reversal of these trends, our society could meet the same fate. (IPS)

Portugal’s Disappearing Middle Class (January 25, 2013)

Harsh austerity measures in Portugal following the country’s financial bailout have led to a discernible rise in poverty levels. Unemployment and the inability to pay back bank loans are affecting the country’s middle class. A growing number of middle class families are finding themselves closer to the poverty line, struggling to pay their bills and pay for basic food.  Soup kitchens are opening up across the country as many are being forced to turn to charities for food aid. According to the National Statistics Institute, last year a fifth of all Portuguese were surviving on less than the minimum wage. This shrinking middle class has become known as the “embarrassed poor,” as many feel ashamed to turn to charities for assistance. According to reports by development organizations, this new poverty has also led to an increase in national suicide rates. (IPS)

Goldman Bankers Get Rich Betting on Food Prices as Millions Starve (January 20, 2013)

Food prices have risen substantially in recent years, increasing by 16 percent between 2010 and 2012. This escalation has heightened the food crisis across the world; yet, whilst more and more people are going hungry, Goldman Sachs is making a profit. Climate change is having detrimental impacts on harvests worldwide, making betting on the rise of food prices a reliable wager. Last year, Goldman Sachs made about $400m on food speculation. The deregulation of Wall Street has allowed banks and hedge funds to invest heavily in agriculture, this inflow of money has coincided with the escalation of food prices, these investors; however, deny the link. (Independent)


Assessing the World’s Agriculture: the IAASTD Report and the Future of Sustainable Food Policy (December 5, 2012)

On December 5, 2012, GPF and the Working Group on Food & Hunger invited Molly Anderson from the College of the Atlantic to discuss the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report and the future of sustainable food policy. Ms. Anderson was one of the coordinating lead authors of the study that reflected the work of more than 900 agricultural experts from 110 countries. To this day the IAASTD report remains by far the most definitive study of global agricultural science and technology.  During the luncheon, Ms. Anderson discussed the report’s implications for policy making. She also discussed the contested terrain of food system alternatives after Rio+20. You can access the slides from this presentation here.

Britain in Nutrition Recession as Food Prices Rise and Incomes Shrink (November 18, 2012)

Rising food prices and shrinking incomes are driving up the consumption of fatty foods in Britain and people with low incomes are being forced to an increasingly unhealthy diet. The Guardian compiled detailed data analyzing the grocery buying habits of thousands of UK citizens and, based on these results, food experts and campaigners have called for government action on food poverty, which they say created public health problems. This nutritional crisis is only expected to worsen as food prices continue to rise. Food Campaigner Laura Sandys has set out a ten-point plan to address food poverty issues, including establishing a national food affordability index to monitor food prices and nutritional changes as well as mandatory food education in the early years school curriculum. (Guardian)

How Africa Could Feed the World (November 6, 2012)

Although nearly 239 million people in Africa are hungry, the continent has around 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land. Taking this land into use and increasing overall agricultural productivity in Africa would reshape the continent’s farming potential and allow it to feed itself.  Olesegun Obasanio, the former president of Nigeria, addresses the five main ways to do this; focusing agricultural policies on smallholder farmers, dealing with the issue of land grabbing, fostering risk management skills among smallholder farmers, focusing international community efforts to improve food security in Africa, and increasing the international community’s support for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Rather than removing barriers to increase trade, addressing these five points is crucial in increasing productivity in a sustainable matter. (CNN)

Two Contemporary Challenges: Corporate Control Over Food and Nutrition and the Absence of a Focus on the Social Determinants of Nutrition

The multi-stakeholder initiative Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) is an alarming example of the increasing influence of private corporations on global nutrition policies. Right to Food and Nutrition Watch discusses this problem of corporate control over food and nutrition in its 2012 annual report these initiatives should focus on the social determinants of nutrition rather than on technocentric and market-based solutions. Short-term, superficial solutions provide clear benefits for the corporations but questionable benefits for the ordinary people. In recent years the UN has growingly supported public private partnerships that are incapable of promoting and real change. The report provides strategies developed by grassroots organizations to regain control over food and nutrition and establish food sovereignty. (Right to Food and Nutrition Watch)

If Extreme Weather Becomes the Norm, Starvation Awaits (October 15, 2012)

George Monbiot argues that climate models predicting average warming trends are in fact masking wide weather extremes. These extremes, like the recent droughts in the US and Russia, will be increasingly reoccurring. Climate models that ignore extreme weather events can have severe consequences. While climate change is likely to be devastating for many of the world’s poor, these conditions can threaten food production in the north.The effects of global warming in the north might result in a rapid worsening of the global food crisis. (Guardian)

Globally Almost 870 Million Chronically Undernourished - New Hunger Report (October 9,2012)

The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012 states that almost 870 million people are “chronically undernourished” – a new benchmark which may lower previous estimates. While the report indicates that the global number of hungry has declined over the past decades and that the Millennium Development Goal target is “within reach”, this global progress has slowed down over the recent years. The report notes in particular that the world economy after the recent financial crisis remains fragile, and continues to affect food insecurity and malnutrition. The report underlines that agricultural growth involving smallholders, especially women, will be most effective in reducing hunger. You can read the report here. (FAO)

‘We Let Them Starve’ (October 5, 2012)

According to World Food Programme, there is enough food in the world for everyone, yet almost one billion people are living in hunger.  Jean Ziegler’s new book “Mass Destruction: The Geopolitics of Hunger” discusses this crisis. Ziegler, the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food is critical of speculators and multinational companies that are contributing to the increasing number of hungry people. Ziegler wants to exclude all non-producers and non-consumers from the commodities exchange. He also argues that especially in the case of Africa, the “colonial pact” is still enforced – local farmers are being forced to export their products while the North sells its food surplus on African markets. (Guardian)

The Real Reason the Middle East is Rioting (September 20, 2012)

New England Complex Systems Institute has released a study showing that the main factor for both the Arab Spring and the most recent anti-US protests was skyrocketing food prices. The study showed that with each successive peak in food prices, citizens in food-importing countries destabilized the political system. As food prices have reached record highs worldwide this year, it is not surprising that we have seen a rise in political instability. Another study by the same NECS team found that agricultural subsidies form the federal government in particular was responsible for creating food insecurity in the Middle East and North Africa. Instead of analyzing a video that worked as a catalyst for the recent uprisings, scrutinizing the activity on Capitol Hill, Wall Street and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange should be prioritized in preventing future unrest. (Nation of Change)

Human Rights Are the Best Weapon to Combat Hunger, Report Says (September 26, 2012)

Food and power are related. A report by civil society groups says it is impossible to combat the causes of hunger if existing power relations remain untouched. The report expresses particular concern about the increasing influence and control of agribusinesses and financial companies over food and nutrition, which leads to a centralized model of food supply. This negative corporate influence can be seen in the UN- backed Scaling Up Nutrition initiative (SUN), that involves food giants such as PepsiCo, Kraft and Danone. While Olivier de Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, has welcomed the progress of SUN, he has also pointed out that the private sector tries to use technical solutions for what are fundamentally social problems. It should be recognized that the promotion of processed foods enriched with nutrients often clashes with the promotion of local and regional food systems. (Guardian)

Mali's Humanitarian Crisis May Worsen if Intervention Calls Heeded, UN Warned (September 27, 2012)

On the occasion of the UN 67th General Assembly, France, the US, and many other Western and African member States have called for military action in Mali. Since the coup of March 2012, North Mali which controlled by Tuareg rebel and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb have increased its presence in the region. Yet, aid officials and experts of humanitarian affairs warn the UN that such intensification of the conflict would actually exacerbate the current food and nutrition crisis by displacing important part of the population. (The Guardian)

Our Secret Weapon Against Hunger: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (August 22, 2012)

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, shared his views on the role of gender equality in securing the right to food at the Eminent Speakers' Forum, and wrote an article on the same topic based on these remarks. He lists several reasons as to why the promotion of gender equality and women’s rights should be seen as a key component of any policy aiming at improving food security. He argues that gender equality in food security discussions might significantly improve productivity, change the perspective about the direction of agricultural development and focus of key investments as a whole, and improve social protection as a whole. While ensuring gender equality and empowering women at household, community and state levels are crucial goals in themselves too, it should be noted that no food security strategy is likely to succeed without taking into account this dimension. (UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food)

Speculating Banks Profit as World's Poorest Go Hungry (September 3, 2012)

Bank’s behavior in the current food crisis risks fuelling a speculative bubble that will push millions into hunger and poverty. Banking giants like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Barclays are using the food market as a playground for investors at the expense of fragile populations, who are deeply affected by price spikes and volatility. These banks’ involvement in agricultural markets adds to the concern that food speculation could push basic prices so high as to trigger a wave of riots in the world’s poorest countries. (Common Dreams)

Impact of Climate Change on Food Prices is Underestimated, Oxfam Warns (September 5, 2012)

As UN talks on climate change conclude in Bangkok with mixed feelings on financial commitments and an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, Oxfam’s latest report sheds light on just how big an impact climate change is predicted to have on global food prices. Even under a conservative assessment, another US drought in 2030 could see a rise in the price of maize by up to a whopping 140% on top of a predicted doubling of current prices. Similar harsh increases in the price of grains such as rice have been forecasted for Africa and South East Asia. Uncertain weather conditions, such as rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns, will put a hold on crop production and trigger a steady increase in food prices. The effect of escalating prices on the world’s poorest, who spend a majority of their household income on food, will be disproportionate. The UN Climate Change Conference in Doha in November 2012 is meant to fill the gaps in international policy response to climate change, but a favorable outcome is unlikely. (The Guardian)

The Cost of Hunger Drought Only One Factor Behind High Food Prices (August 21, 2012)

The global food supply faces pressures from all sides and more technology, biology and chemistry alone will not create food security. This Spiegel article underlines that the widely reported hunger droughts are only one factor behind the wider crisis on food, and that issues like climate change, biofuels, price speculation and new consumption patterns are crucial parts of the crisis. In this context, industrial agriculture is not the answer and instead small farmers, local markets and water saving should be supported. It is however important to remember that just as there are several causes to the food crisis, there are also many different measures to combat it. (Spiegel)

Could Malawi's Empty Grain Stores Signal Return to the Bad Times? (August 21, 2012)

The UN World Food Programme predicts that the current drought in southern Malawi may push 1.6 million people into food insecurity conditions at the beginning of 2013. The recent devaluation of the national currency (pushed by foreign aid donors) has already increased fertilizer and food prices. Better distribution of the country’s surplus grain from previous years can reduce the effects of the drought. However, to prevent future crises, the Malawian government must carefully consider how its economic policy impacts food security for the people. (Guardian)

Trees Breathing New Life into French Agriculture (August 21, 2012)

In some parts of France, farmers are increasingly switching to agroforestry, a traditional practice of growing crops around trees. As the roots of the trees act as natural filters, this type of farming slows down soil erosion and eliminates dependency on chemical fertilizers. Agroforestry also produces wood for additional source of revenue and brings additional biodiversity that helps to protect the crops. Better subsidies for farmers to offset the substantial investment cost of agroforestry projects will help to expand this sustainable farming model. (Le Monde)

Must the Poor Go Hungry Just so the Rich can Drive? (August 13, 2012)

On the closing day of the Olympics, UK Prime Minister David Cameron hosted the “Global Hunger and Nutrition summit” to promote what George Monbiot sees as a corporate and paternalistic approach to overseas aid. The summit failed to address Western countries’ demand for biofuels, which is causing a global land grab and worsening food price increases brought about by the recent drought. Biofuel policies of Western governments perpetuate an unjust system in which the richest population over-consumes at the expense of the poorest population’s survival. Rather than focusing on charity, Western governments should adopt policies that ease the burden of rising food prices on the world’s poorest. (Guardian)

The Hunger Wars in Our Future (August 8, 2012)

The current drought is not a one-off event in the US, but rather a link in the chain of global warming consequences unfolding in the world. In the near future, climate change will not only lead to catastrophic physical effects but also social effects such as mass starvation, food riots, mass migrations and violent conflicts. While the current focus is on rising food prices, an immediate outcome of the drought, this article calls to mind the big picture of the grim social and political ramifications of climate change-related crisis. (TomDispatch)

DRC Farmers Reap Benefits of Soil Fertility (August 6, 2012)

In villages around Bukavu, small-holder rice farmers are seeing their market share rising after they adopted a new technique to protect soil quality using subsidized mineral fertilizer. This method has increased rice output from 2.5 tons to 7.5 tons per one hectare plot, helping farmers to gain ground in a market previously dominated by rice from Tanzania and Pakistan. While some farmers have invested profits from harvests to purchasing farmland, access to land remains a challenge to most farmers as the cost of leasing land is very high and changes in land rights system are slow.  Small-holder farmer in the Democratic Republic of Congo need strong support from the government, which is only allocating 0.6 percent of the 2012 national budget to agriculture, to ensure better access to land and fertilizer and build food security systems. (IPS)

Corn for Food, Not Fuel (July 30, 2012)

Given the current drought in 32 US states, this article calls on the Environmental Protection Agency to lower the renewable- fuel standard by 20 percent and divert corn from ethanol production back into the food chain. While corn is indeed a renewable resource, the current ethanol policy rests on false assumptions pushed by the ethanol lobby about how ethanol lowers the price of gasoline and reduces global carbon dioxide emissions. Reducing the renewable-fuel standard would offset nearly half of the expected crop loss and ease the drastic impacts that the drought would otherwise have on inflation, food security and political instability in many parts of the world. (New York Times)

Sam Dryden: The Most Powerful Figure in the Global South's Agriculture? (July 6, 2012)

While global annual aid spending on agriculture by governments is around $2.3 billion, the Gates Foundation has invested more than two billion dollars in agricultural projects, making it one of the most powerful actors in world agriculture. The foundation’s head of agricultural development program, Sam Dryden, claims that he works in the interest of small-holder farmers; however, his  record, which includes working for the chemical company Union Carbide and setting up the GM crop giant company Dow AgroSciences, raises serious doubts. Should one foundation be allowed to wield such influence over agricultural policy that concerns the livelihoods of millions of farmers, especially when it promotes an unsustainable industry-driven farming system?  (Guardian)

Biofuels and Hunger, Two Sides of the Same Coin (June 25, 2012)

In 2009, the EU set a mandatory target of a ten percent share of biofuel use in transport by 2020. Several international NGOs pointed out that this would require converting an area larger than Belgium and the Netherlands combined into cropland for biofuel production and lead to 56 million tons of CO2 per year. The ten percent target would put an extra 140 million people at risk of hunger due to land grabbing, water diversion and increases in prices of oilseed, sugar and maize. However, under pressure from the biofuel industry, the EU remains silent on the effects of biofuels on food security. (IPS) 

The G-20 Agricultural Agenda: Agricultural Productivity Growth in a Vacuum (June 19, 2012)

While the G-20 comprises the agricultural powerhouses of international markets, their agriculture agenda for the 2012 meeting in Mexico fails to mention how G-20 members must change their agricultural policies in order to bring about significant changes for small-scale producers worldwide. Instead, it has a narrow focus on low-income countries and the problem of agricultural productivity growth.The G-20’s call for increases in agricultural investment, without consideration of possible risks, demonstrates that the G-20 is pulling back from any of the structural challenges that confront the international agricultural economy today. (Triple Crisis)

Africa Must End Hunger to Sustain Growth - UN (May 15, 2012)

Africa continues to be a net importer of food, despite an abundance of fertile land and water. In its first Africa Human Development report, UNDP is calling for more investment in agriculture, to reduce hunger, create jobs and sustain growth. In the last decade, African economies grew at an average rate of more than 5 percent, but as of 2008, 48 percent of its inhabitants were living in poverty. (AlertNet)

UN Envoy Blasts Canada for "Self-Righteous" Attitute over Hunger, Poverty (May 15, 2012)

Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, says he was shocked to find on his recent visit to Canada that there are over 900,000 food insecure households, with up to 2.5 million hungry people in such a wealthy country. The Conservative government declined to allow its cabinet ministers to meet De Schutter, a sign of the lack of commitment to tackle the problem of food insecurity. This was De Schutter’s first mission to a developed country. (National Post)

The Philippines: The Family Plot (May 12, 2012)

In 1989, the owners of Hacienda Luisita, a sugar plantation estate owned by the family of the President of the Philippines, persuaded farmworkers to give up their land rights in exchange for shares and guaranteed five or six days of work per week. When the company violated its contract and gave some farmers work only one day per week, the United Luisita Workers’ Union took their case to the courts and forced the government to re-examine the 1989 agreement. On April 24thof 2012, the Workers’ Union won a big victory against Hacienda Luisita when the Supreme Court upheld a decision to redistribute 4, 335 hectares of the land to 6, 269 farmers. This article outlines this rare success of land reform in the Philippines. (The Economist)

Not a Famine, but an Issue of Food Insecurity (May 11, 2012)

Millions of Angolans are facing critical food insecurity because of a lack of rain and reduced irrigation. Unable to grow their own food, small farmers are forced to purchase it elsewhere, but prices have doubled. The Angolan government launched a high profile US funded $150 million microcredit scheme to help small farmers buy inputs seeds and fertilizers in 2011. But with yields so low this year, many families are getting deeper into poverty as they struggle to repay their debts. (IPS Terraviva)

Want to Stop Banks Gambling on Food Prices? Try Closing the Casino (May 10, 2012)

High rollers like JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs have transformed speculation on the world’s food commodities into another high stakes game. Thanks to their success at crippling regulatory legislation, nobody can track how the game is being played. Investigative reporter Frederick Kaufman says the only way to stop speculation in food commodities is to make it a criminal offence. (Guardian)

UN Sees Risk of Unrest from Food Costs above 10-Year Average (May 7, 2012)

According to the UN, global food prices may stay at high levels, about 40 percent above the average over the past 10 years. In order to help poor countries cope with high food costs, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has asked international lenders to give more monetary assistance to the world’s least developed countries. UN officials are especially worried about social unrest because high food prices contributed to riots across Africa and the Middle East in 2011. (Bloomberg)

Time to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Industrial Agriculture? (May 2, 2012)

In this article, author Tom Philpott critiques a recent study published in the journal Nature, which compared the productivity of industrial and organic agriculture by averaging the yields-per-acre of 66 case studies. The study’s fixation on yield puts a shiny gloss on a system that wastes huge amounts of resources and leads to severe environmental degradation, says Philpott. Viewed through a gross output-per-acre lens, conventional agriculture seems hyperefficient and organic agriculture looks “like a laggard.” (MotherJones)

Curbing Food Speculation – Right Step to Stop Hunger? (May 2, 2012)

Following the food price crisis of 2008, traders began to bet heavily on the future prices of wheat, maize and corn, among other commodities, which forced food prices to remain high and volatile. According to a report by the World Development Movement, investment in food commodities by banks and hedge funds has risen from US$65 bn to US $126 bn in five years. This article gives a good overview of the impact of speculation on the food prices and analyzes steps that can be taken to regulate commodities speculation. (AlertNet)

Restructuring the Planet's Food System (May 1, 2012)

The current food system is broken, says Danielle Nierenberg, the Project Director of Nourising the Planet at Worldwatch Institute.  In this IPS Terraviva interview, Nierenberg outlines inefficiencies in the current industrialized food system and advocates for a restructuring of the system towards one that is “more regional and local and relies on resources already available.” (IPS Terraviva)

US Ethanol Expansion Cost Mexico Billions in Higher Import Prices (May 2012)

Released on the eve of a key meeting of vice ministers of agriculture from the G-20, this working paper urges Mexico, which has the presidency of the G-20, to put biofuels, import dependence and other underlying causes of the food crisis on the agenda. Mexico imports one-third of its corn and the study has found that due to US biofuels policy, the added cost of importing corn in Mexico was between US$1.5bn and US$3.2 bn from 2006-2011.This price increase significantly contributed to rising hunger and food insecurity in Mexico, where the cost of the staple diet, corn tortillas, rose by 60 percent. As chair of the G-20, Mexico has a unique opportunity to take a strong position against bad policies, and should call on other leading economies to curb their biofuels policies. (Global Development and Environment Institute)

Genetically Modified Crops' Results Raise Concerns (April 30, 2012)

Food manufacturers and grain millers are worried that a new genetically modified (GM) Trojan corn, which turns its own starch to sugar, will contaminate food corn. The primary concern is that the new GM corn will spread through pollen or inadvertent mixing, as GM crops have done at least six times in the past. Proponents of GMOs promise to feed the world, but they never anticipated the side effects of reliance on GMOs. The overall vast increases in herbicide, for instance, have created impervious weeds that now infest millions of acres of cropland, while decimating other plants. (San Francisco Chronicle)

The Folly of Big Agriculture: Why Nature Always Wins (April 13, 2012)

According to this Yale Environment 360 article, a reasonable agriculture system would do its best to emulate nature, but the current agro-industrial system is bent on changing the earth to suit its needs. The current system relies of leveling, irrigating, draining, fertilizing, and spraying the land with herbicides. But as weeds become tolerant of herbicides, big agriculture incorrectly looks towards technology for solutions to help with issues created by "right-now technology." In this article, Verlyn Klinkenborg argues that the USDA should urge farmers away from uniformity and towards crop diversity because nature ultimately always finds a way assert itself. (Yale Environment 360)

Water Monitoring System Aids Kenyan Herders (April 3, 2012)

Through a new early warning system, scientists are able to create a real-time map of vegetation and water conditions in northwest Kenya. The Livestock Early Warning System combines information uploaded by villages with mobile phones and satellite images generated by the NASA to record information about water levels and the number of households and livestock using waterholes. Currently, forecasts about drought conditions are communicated to pastoralist communities (through the internet-access in part) on mobile phones, but scientists are working towards disseminating information through radio and community meetings as well. The pilot program ended in February, but scientists are seeking funding from FAO to support its continuation and expansion into other arid parts of the country. (Alertnet)

At UN Conference, Latin America Countries Reaffirm Commitment to Eradicate Hunger (April 2, 2012)

At the 32nd FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, states renewed their commitment to the “Latin America and the Caribbean without Hunger 2025” initiative. Since its launch in 2005, four countries in the region have recognized the right to food in their constitutions, and 7 have passed food security or food sovereignty laws. Member states also agreed to strengthen FAO’s presence in developing countries and emphasized the importance of advancing South-South cooperation in disaster preparedness and humanitarian response. (UN News Centre)

Is the EU Taking its Over-Fishing Habits to West African Waters? (April 2, 2012)

According to the UN’s FAO, 25 percent of all fish caught by EU-registered boats comes from developing countries, at the expense of over 1.5 million local fishermen.  Though fish supplies in developing nation’s waters are rapidly declining, rich countries and country groups, like the EU, are continuing to over-fish. Host country governments are becoming increasingly dependent on the income received by selling fishing rights to foreign corporations and countries. In West Africa, many people fear that communities where fishing is the main source of income will become less stable, making the region “more and more like Somalia.” (Guardian)

The Real Hunger Games: How Banks Gamble on Food Prices – and the Poor Lose Out (April 1, 2012)

Speculation by large investment banks has driven up food prices, tipping millions into hunger and further into poverty. In the past five years, investment in food commodities has risen from US$65bn to US$126bn. Hedge funds, pension funds and investment banks now dominate the food commodities market, dwarfing the amount traded by actual food producers and buyers. In this article, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier de Schutter comments on the way in which financial players bet on food and the catastrophic effects of this speculation on poor consumers. (The Independent)

Drought does not Mean Death of Pastoralism (March 22, 2012)

Pastoralists in West Africa are investigating ways to diversify their sources of income in order to strengthen their resilience to climate change. By ensuring that some members of their family pursue non-livestock activities, families can build food reserves for when there is a drought. While the Nigerien government guarantees pastoralists the right to travel across borders during the rainy season, other governments do not have such lenient pastoral codes, making it difficult for pastoralists to sustain their way of life amidst changing weather patterns. (IRIN)

World Water Forums Expose Large Dams as “Unsustainable”(March 19, 2012)

According to estimates by the World Commission on Dams, 40 to 80 million people have been displaced by the construction of large dams worldwide. The land area required for dams leads to the displacement of large numbers of people, but governments often fail to give any support or compensation to the displaced. While large dam projects generate large profits for industrial farming enterprises, dams often do little for small farmers and they have has devastating environmental impacts. In this article, ecologists argue that small sand dams are a good alternative to big concrete dam projects. (IPS Terraviva)

UN Human Rights Council Exhorted to Defend Peasants’ Rights (March 9, 2012)

For decades, peasants' networks have been advocating for a UN declaration that would protect their rights to land, seeds, and control over their traditional agricultural knowledge In this article, the general coordinator of Via Campesina, a movement that represents over 200 million small farmers worldwide, explains why a declaration from the UN Human Rights Council would be an important step forward for peasants' rights. (IPS Terraviva)

Indian Farmers Hostage to Middlemen (March 9, 2012)

While India's economy has been growing steadily, its agriculture sector has declined steeply since the "green revolution" of the 1970s. Scientists believe that the overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, as well as the government's encouragement of water-intensive crops has led to severe environmental degradation.The current government policy is to give aid to farmers by subsidizing agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers, but these subsidies do not solve the problem and mainly benefit input producers. According to national statistics, over 250,000 small farmers committed suicide between 1995 and 2010, "mainly attributed to their inability to pay debts incurred on agricultural inputs." (IPS Terraviva)

Combating Monsanto (March 2012)

This report examines grassroots resistance to the growing power of agribusinesses in the current food system. In the run up to Rio+20, the concept of the new ‘green economy’ has been used by corporations, such as Monsanto, to tighten their grip on food and agriculture and facilitate the spread of genetically modified (GM) crops. As a result of Monsanto’s presence, local seeds are becoming illegal, biodiversity is disappearing, land is being contaminated and farmers and agricultural workers are being poisoned, criminalized and displaced from their land. The report states that global resistance against transnational corporations is an urgent necessity and calls on policy makers to act against the existing food system, which focuses on profit generation rather than sustainable food production. (La Via Campesina)

Access to Good, Healthy Food Should Be a Basic Human 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)

Iowa State University Withdraws Completely from AgriSol Energy's Investment Deal in Tanzania (February 12, 2012)

In a public statement, Iowa State University Dean Wendy Wintersteen has announced that its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences would no longer be “advising” AgriSol Energy in its ventures in Tanzania. Masked as a "responsible investment," the deal would have forced 162,000 Tanzanians to relocate. The university's partnership with AgriSol was first discovered by the California think-tank Oakland Institute in June 2011. (Oakland Institute)

Hunger is a 'Weapon of Mass Destruction,' says Jean Ziegler (January 19, 2012)

In Jean Ziegler’s new book, “Mass Destruction – the Geopolitics of Hunger’, the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food discusses the catastrophic problem of organized hunger, biofuels production, and food price spikes. Ziegler’s book exposes the actions of agroindustry giants and praises the countries that are fighting back, while providing insight into actions by countries like the US, which have strong ties with transnational corporations and an agenda to take over “valuable commodities everywhere.” (Axis of Logic)

Power in Agriculture: A Vital Report on the Future of Farming (January 18, 2012)

Transnational agribusinesses are beginning to play an increasingly influential role in global agricultural markets and this report by the Oxford Farming Conference looks at the economic, political, and natural resource power distributions in the current global food system. The report argues that in order to sustain the current levels of productivity, there needs to be better resource use. (Oxford Farming Conference)

"Speculation is an Important Cause of High Prices”(January 16, 2012)

The deregulation of the financial markets has contaminated the food system, privileging commodity speculation over food security. In this interview with Speigel, the new chief of FAO Jose Graziano da Silva states that the food crisis is a financial problem and the “Green Revolution” is not a viable option. With the help of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), we must build an effective global food governance system, says Da Silva. Da Silva was appointed head of FAO in early January and will be chief through July 2015. (Der Spiegel)

New Chief of UN's Food Agriculture Agency Outlines Plans as he Starts Work (January 3, 2012)

Brazilian agronomist and writer Jose Graziano da Silva has begun his post as Director-General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). With nearly a billion people suffering from chronic hunger, the new FAO chief says eradicating hunger will be his top priority. (UN News)

Resolving the Food Crisis: Assessing Global Policy Reforms Since 2007 (January 2012)

A new policy report highlights the inadequacies of the current global food system. The existing trade model, where the biggest agricultural producers in Europe and North America dump their food surplus on low-income regions is unsustainable. This trade-centric approach privileges countries of the global North and leaves little space for developing countries to promote local food production capacities and achieve national food security. Researchers warn that the blind expansion of industrial agriculture “ignores environmental constraints and equity issues.” They are calling for reduced financial speculation on commodity markets, limited biofuels production and a halt to land grabs. (GDAE - IATP)

Farming Money (January 2012)

This report by Friends of the Earth Europe urges the international community to scrutinize the role of European financial institutions in commodity speculation and global food crises. The report identified Germany’s Deutsche Bank, UK’s Barclays, and French banking group BNP Paribas as the most significant actors involved in trading agricultural commodity futures and financing land grabs. (Friends of the Earth Europe)

Hedge-Fund Millionaire Diggle Bets on Farms, Life Sciences (January 2, 2012)

Hedge-fund millionaire Stephen Diggle plans to open his personal portfolio of farmland and biotechnology companies to investors, promising high returns in a volatile market. According to Diggle, buying farms and orchards — at the expense of smallholder farmers — is the best way to make profits as global food prices continue to rise. Diggle is one of many investors who are looking towards farmland to make a quick profit as the global population and demand for food continue to increase. (Bloomberg)


Egypt: Food for a Revolution (December 21, 2011)

In this article, the authors argue that the agricultural sector in Egypt is focused on creating luxury exports instead of basic crops. According to estimates, between one and four million peasant farmers have quit working the land and moved to cities in the last 20 years, because they are unable to survive by growing their own food. Factors driving the migration include high land prices, a farm policy that favors wealthy entrepreneurs and a lack of access to irrigation water. (al Jazeera)

The Speculative Scrum Driving up Food Prices (December 20, 2011)

2011 was a great year for traders who speculated on food commodities and saw cocoa futures drop 12% in less than a minute, says investigative journalist Frederick Kaufman. In this article, he writes that the time has come for global regulators to make commodities information public and place limits on commodities that bankers and hedge funds can gamble on. In January, Kaufman spoke at an NGO Working on Food & Hunger Policy Luncheon. To hear what he had to say on price instability and food reserves, click here. (Guardian)

Great Lakes: At Risk of "War for Food, Space" (November 1, 2011)

The Great Lakes region in Africa faces chronic food insecurity that might eventually lead to a war for food and space. As the population is growing, farmers encounter more difficulties to meet the increasing food demand, while infrastructure and government support for agriculture remain poor. Besides, rising agricultural productivity means an increasing demand for land, which puts the environment under strain and threatens the population’s livelihood. (IRIN News)

UN Human Rights Expert Warns of Pitfalls of Contract Farming (October 24, 2011)

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Oliver De Schutter has issued a new report highlighting that smallholder farmers face the risk of exploitation under current contract farming arrangements. De Schutter says that it is extremely difficult for farmers to “move up the value chain” into processing, packaging, and marketing of their food without access to markets. Fair contracts should include minimum price guarantees and farmers must be allowed to set aside land to meet family and community needs, says De Schutter. (UN News Centre)

Biotech Group Bids to Recruit High-Profile GM "Ambassadors" (October 20, 2011)

Leaked documents show that biotech industry giant EuropaBio has hired a PR firm to approach high-profile "ambassadors" to lobby European leaders on genetically modified (GM) policy. Draft e-mails to potential ambassadors do not offer an outright paycheck but they offer to research, write, and publish on behalf of the ambassadors while promising to secure lucrative speaking engagements. This attempt by EuropaBio to change the debate on GMOs in Europe exposes the influences of the powerful GM lobby. The PR company claims to have had interest from Kofi Annan, Lord Patten, and Sir Bob Geldof. (Guardian)

La Via Campesina at the CFS: "We Can No Longer Wait" (October 19, 2011)

This contribution from Ibrahim Coulibaly at the October meeting of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) urges the international body to find a sustainable solution to the problem of food insecurity and price volatility. On behalf of members of the largest international peasant movement La Via Campesina, Coulibaly states that it is necessary to halt forms of competition between small farmers and agro-industrial producers, and put an end to policies which allow for dumping during times of overproduction. He also argues that it is important to give priority to local markets, not “unpredictable international markets.” (La Via Campesina)

Women Seen Key to Solving Hunger Issues in Africa (October 16, 2011)

According to a new UN FAO report, investing in women would increase food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, women farmers produce food crops, such as millet and corn, to feed their families, but are generally excluded or prohibited from owning or registering land. The report states that increasing women’s access to land, technology and agricultural training can increase yields on farms by 20 to 30 percent. (Reuters)

New Global Hunger Index Report Calls for Action to Curtail High and Volatile Prices and Protect the Poor (October 11, 2011)

This joint report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Welthungerhilfe, and Concern Worldwide states that extreme weather, financial speculation and the commodification of agriculture are major causes of food price volatility. In order to protect the most vulnerable against hunger, the report suggests that policymakers regulate the financial activity in food markets, restrict biofuel production and invest in small-scale agriculture. (IFPRI)

Scaling Up (Mal)Nutrition (October 2011)

Multinational companies are increasingly prominent around the UN, but who would have predicted that PepsiCo, a giant soft drink and snack food company, would play a lead role in a high-profile UN initiative on nutrition?  This report from a high-level meeting hosted by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on in September 2011, reveals the increasingly blatant use of the UN by companies for corporate branding and the manufacture of positive spin to overcome negative reputations. 

Small-Scale Farmers and Development: Assume a Different Economic Model (September 27, 2012)

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) gives Mexico tariff-free access to cheap goods, so that Mexico’s “two million small-scale corn farmers can enjoy cheaper tortillas and seek more productive activities, growing high-value crops or moving out of agriculture,” said a World Bank economist during a conference on farm policies in Mexico. In this article, the author discusses the devastating effects of NAFTA on Mexico, namely the dumping of corn, rise in migration and an ongoing food price crisis that has caused tortilla riots across the country. (Triple Crisis Blog)

The G-20's Opportunity on Food Reserves (September 23, 2011)

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has agreed to host a pilot emergency food reserves project as part of the G-20 Action Plan on Food Price Volatility which will be implemented in late 2011. In this article, Sophia Murphy, the senior advisor to the Trade and Global Governance program at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), voices concerns about the proposal and proposes alternative methods to measure the occurrences of market shocks. (IATP)

How Wall Street Fuels Global Hunger (September 16, 2011)

Wall Street’s narrative to explain the current food crisis, highlights rising population and increasing demand for meat from India and China. This rising demand for food while supply is stagnant supposedly leads to skyrocketing food prices. In reality, although demand for food has increased, the promotion of biofuels and other supply shocks have set off a giant speculative food bubble. (Mother Jones)

Who Says Food is a Human Right? (September 14, 2011)

In this interview, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter discusses the need to empower small-scale farmers, the gross simplification of boosting production in order to meet global hunger, and dangers associated with the Green Revolution. De Schutter advocates shifting towards sustainable farming and holding governments accountable to create policies that are informed by the needs of the people. (The Nation)

How Change is Going to Come in the Food System (September 11, 2011)

Author Michael Pollan argues changes in the current  US food system will happen only in response to unaffordable healthcare costs. As soon as the healthcare industry realizes it will have to “pick up the long-term tab” of unhealthy citizens, agriculture committees in Congress will begin to echo calls for a change to the “unsustainable” American way of growing and eating food. (The Nation)

Did Food Prices Spur the Arab Spring (September 7, 2011)

The Tigris and Euphrates rivers create a bed of fertile land in the Middle East and North Africa. Although the area is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, 50 percent of the food consumed here is imported. Unequal access to water and a lack of resources for farmers in this region has led to increased poverty and hunger. Rami Zurayk, an agronomy professor at the American University of Beirut, argues that rising food prices are mobilizing people to protest and express their anti-government sentiment. (PBS)

Speculating with Lives: How Global Investors Make Money out of Hunger (September 1, 2011)

Overall food costs in 2011 have risen 39% since 2010 and have surpassed prices seen during the last major food crisis in 2008. Agricultural commodities today attract hedge funds and private investors looking to make a profit on “safe” investment options--unlike stocks or bonds. According to a new UNCTAD report, the activities of financial participants in the food system have driven commodity prices away from levels justified by “market fundamentals.” Although food price increases are due to a variety of reasons including climate change, the cultivation of biofuels, and the rise in meat consumption, food price speculation has played the biggest role in excessive price hikes. (Der Spiegel)

Broken Markets: How Financial Market Regulation Can Help Prevent Another Global Food Crisis (September 2011)

The World Development Movement (WDM) reports that financial speculators—with no prior interest in agriculture—are dominating commodity markets, creating inflation and fueling skyrocketing food prices.   Fifteen years ago, financial speculators only accounted for 12 percent of agricultural futures as compared to over 60 percent today. Although some commentators question whether financial speculation can affect the price of food, this report confirms that the financial sector has played a significant role in destabilizing the current food system. (World Development Movement)

The Future of Food-The Global South Shows the Way (August 26, 2011)

Much of the momentum for the food sovereignty conference for Europe, held in Austria in mid-August, stems from La Via Campesina, an organization of peasants and small farmers from the global south. Acknowledging the universal right to food, La Via Campesina takes a “holistic” approach to tackle food insecurity and gives equal value to projects on the ground and at global policy-making levels. Although northern organizations are “wary of system-wide solutions for fear of being seen as ‘ideological’,” the current global food crisis calls for systemic change beyond policy negotiations and politics and has inspired the north to take a cue from the south and confront the current dominant industrial food system. (Guardian)

Bolivia's First Crop Insurance Scheme Promises to Empower Farmers (August 19, 2011)

Currently, over 150,000 Bolivian farmers have micro-credit loans but are unable to sustain themselves after a bad harvest. Insurance businessman Luis Alvaro Toledo believes farmers in Latin America will be much better off if they have access to insurance policies that will allow them to buy new seeds, invest in better machinery and “bounce back” from a bad season. With support from the International Labor Organization (ILO), Toledo has developed a scheme to give crop, life and property insurance to Bolivia’s small farmers. Skeptics are wary that, like micro-credit, this “quick fix” scheme will worsen farmers’ conditions and mainly create a lucrative new financial service market.  (Guardian)

Women Farmers Key to End Food Insecurity (August 6, 2011)

1.6 billion women worldwide depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. However, they often lack access or rights to land. In India, women grow 70% of the food, yet only 6% of these women own land in the farming state of Uttar Pradesh. In order to help lift their families out of poverty and strengthen their countries’ food security, women must have improved access to credit and government training programs, says Janeen Madan of Nourishing the Planet. It is time policymakers pay attention to women as agricultural producers and strengthen their agricultural capacity. (Nourishing the Planet)

Food Price Spikes (August 2, 2011)

In some countries of the global South, people spend up to 80% of their household income on food, making them especially vulnerable during food price instability. This interactive map by Oxfam allows viewers to see the causes and impacts of fluctuating food prices in 22 countries. The map shows that rising food prices over the last decade have affected poorer countries disproportionately, often leading to civil unrest. In order to tackle food crises, Oxfam argues we must look at the causes of price volatility, reform bad policies and preserve scarce resources. (Oxfam)

The Truth About the Global Demand for Food (August 2, 2011)

A UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report challenges the widely held belief that growing populations in India and China have led to increased grain consumption and volatile food prices. According to the report, there has been little change in the rate of demand of grain by developing countries. Instead, western policies supporting biofuel production have accelerated food price increases, making food unaffordable for millions of people. The report suggests that the biofuel boom of the 2000s, coupled with financial speculation in commodity markets, has led to higher food prices and jeopardized food security. (Guardian)

The New Green Revolution: How Twenty-First Century Science Can Feed the World (August 2011)

In this article, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter analyzes the current food crisis and concludes that agroecology-the application of ecological science to the study, design, and management of sustainable agriculture –holds great promise to meet the challenges of global food insecurity. Strategies to combat hunger must recognize the impact of climate change, scarcity of natural resources, and the unsustainable nature of current methods of food production. Advocates of agroecology include the World Bank, FAO, UNEP, IASSTD, and the largest transnational peasant movement, La Via Campensina. (Solutions Journal)

Food Prices, Still Near Record High, Continue to Burden World's Poorest (August 2011)

In the Horn of Africa, the prices of food, fats, oil, and grains have exceeded peak levels not seen since the last global food crisis in 2008. Between 2010 and early 2011 the global prices of corn, sugar and wheat rose by 84%, 62%, and 55% respectively. During this period domestic food prices have also fluctuated widely. In this report the World Bank blames soaring food prices on poor local harvests, dwindling global food stocks, US production of corn ethanol and a volatile global food supply. (World Bank)

Genocidal Politics and the Somalia Famine (July 30, 2011)

This Al Jazeera article argues that the famine in Somalia is a result of local, national and international politics. The Somali people have been made vulnerable to exhausted food resources due to continuous military and political interventions in the region – particularly by Ethiopia, the AU and the US. The US and its allies have sought to defeat the “Islamic terrorist” group al-Shabaab, putting millions of people at risk. Somalia’s famine is due not only to al-Shabaab’s presence in the country and ecological disturbances but also to geopolitics. (Al Jazeera)

What's Driving Food Prices in 2011? (July 19, 2011)

This report by the Farm Foundation notes the role of two persistent demand shocks---biofuels policies for corn, and soybean exports for China---as major driving forces behind rising commodity prices in recent months. Between 2005 and 2010 the number of acres required to satisfy biofuels and soybean demands rose 189% in the US. Such a dramatic increase in the number of acres required implies a decrease in the amount of available land to grow crops for global consumption. These increases in demand coupled with an ailing economy and climate change caused commodity prices to skyrocket in early 2011. (Farm Foundation)

Use Your Loaf: Why Food Prices Were Crucial in the Arab Spring (July 17, 2011)

According to Rami Zurayk, professor of agriculture and food sciences at the American University of Beirut, food price hikes were a catalyst in the 2011 Arab Spring. Using the examples of Tunisia and Egypt, Zurayk asserts that the lack of access to affordable staple foods, such as wheat, led people to take to the streets. Wheat is currently trading at record prices, with the benefits going to US based trading giants Cargill, ADM and Bunge, who together control 90% of the global grain trade. Institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund encourage this monopolization of basic commodities. In order to improve food security, Zurayk argues that it is crucial to invest in local grain production and support small-scale farmers. (The Observer)

Rich Nations Risk Breaking Their Pledges on Farming Aid, says Anti-Poverty Group (July 10, 2011)

According to the ONE campaign, rich nations are failing to keep their pledge to help farmers in the world’s poorest countries.  At the L’Aquila summit in 2009, the G8 along with five other donors promised to deliver 22 billion dollars towards agriculture by 2012. The US, which pledged the largest amount, $3.5 billion, has only disbursed 2%, says ONE. Canada and Italy have given two-thirds of their pledges while France and the UK have given close to one-third. The UK Department of International Development has said it believes the ONE campaign is incorrect in its assessment and maintains that rich nations are on track to deliver the support that they have pledged. With foreign aid for agriculture falling drastically in the past few decades, the executive director of ONE believes there is little hope for Africa without investment from rich countries in agriculture. (Guardian)

UN Food Boss Brings Street Cred to New Job (June 27, 2011)

Jose Graziano da Silva of Brazil has been elected director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), replacing Jacques Diof of Senegal. Unlike most senior FAO officials, Graziano da Silva recognizes that food price volatility is due in part to “contaminated commodity markets.” However, he has not spoken out against agro-industry led landgrabbing and biofuel production, which are also threats to food security.  Graziano da Silva has vowed to repeat his success in Brazil with national hunger alleviation programs in all countries facing food insecurity. Bridging the north-south divide to foster consensus between donor countries and developing countries will be difficult, however. (Globe and Mail)

G20 Action Plan Addresses the Symptoms, Not the Causes of the Problem (June 23, 2011)

For the first time agriculture ministers from the world’s 20 leading economies met to discuss the issue of food price volatility. The Ministers agreed to create an early warning system, AMIS, run by the UN’s FAO, which will collect information on food stocks and global production. Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, has issued a statement expressing his disappointment that the G20 action plan did not consider the causes of price volatility on agricultural markets.  This article outlines his concerns about the effects of biofuels, the functionality of food reserves, and the lack of investment in food production in a range of developing countries, among other points. (United Nations)

Food Crisis: Five Priorities for the G20 (June 16, 2011)

France must use its presidency of the G20 to combat global food insecurity, says Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. In order to put the global food system back on track, De Schutter believes G20 leaders must control speculation, create transparency in food reserve systems, accelerate the provision of public goods and encourage all countries to create strategies to feed themselves. Hunger has become a political problem and he is optimistic that France will work to end the global food crisis. (Guardian)

Fish Farming is Answer to Increasing Global Meat Demands, says Report (June 14, 2011)

According to a report by Conservation International and WorldFish Centre, the world must look towards aquaculture to meet the growing demand for animal products. With an expanding middle class population in Asia and widespread hunger, it is of paramount importance that we find sustainable solutions to the global food crisis. The study suggests that the answer lies in farming fish and algae since its environmental impact is lower than raising livestock. (Guardian)

Living on a Spike (June 2011)

Poor people in developing countries now spend up to 80% of their household income on food. In order to see how the food crisis of 2011 is affecting poor people, researchers from Oxfam and the Institute of Development Studies travelled to Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, and Zambia to meet with members of eight communities that they previously visited in 2009 and 2010. The study found the 2011 food price spike impacted communities unevenly and was more varied than the food spike in 2008. The overall pattern this year is one of ‘weak losers,’ people already struggling in low-paid, informal sector jobs, and ‘strong winners,’ people whose work has benefited from the global recovery who are not feeling the price spike as strongly as in past years. Research shows that people are responding to food insecurity in more nuanced ways than in past years; specifically, as they pinpoint political alienation as the primal force behind food price instability. (Oxfam)

Growing a Better Future (May 31, 2011)

This report by Oxfam highlights the inequities plaguing the global food system and the needs of vulnerable populations. It forecasts that prices of key crops could double by 2030 because of climate change and increased resource scarcity. Oxfam is calling on G20 leaders to better regulate commodities markets, increase food reserves, and end the diversion of food into biofuels. (Oxfam)

France Marshals G-20 to Combat Rising Food Costs (May 31, 2011)

France is using its presidency of the G20 to highlight the problems of food price volatility and will press for an action plan to combat global food insecurity. The country is hoping to create a database, managed by FAO, which would keep an account of commodities stocks and monitor shifts in demand.  France is also examining the idea of creating reserves in food-insecure nations and tightening regulation of the commodities markets. (New York Times)

Exploding Watermelons put Spotlight on Chinese Farming Practices (May 17, 2011)

Chinese food producers have been charged in a number of major scandals in recent years. Discoveries of cadmium in rice and melamine in milk have caused alarm among the public. Now there are reports of excessive use of fertilizers which has been linked to a phenomenon of exploding watermelons. The government subsidizes the fertilizers to maintain high levels of food output. The problem is leading to panic among consumers, who feel they can’t trust the government or producers. (Guardian)

Can the World Feed 10 Billion People? (May 4, 2011)

Writing in response to the UN revised population estimates, Raj Patel asserts that the world cannot continue to stick to 20th century policies of “big agriculture” in order to feed a growing global population. Patel points to the downfalls of technological quick-fixes and advocates for agroecological solutions to food security. Agroecology is the application of ecological processes to agriculture and has shown to increase crop productivity and farm efficiency. Patel suggests that governments should start subsidizing education programs and agricultural research, rather than giving funds to private inputs such as fertilizer. (Foreign Policy)

The New Geopolitics of Food (May/June 2011)

Lester R. Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute asserts that we have entered into a new era in which food scarcity shapes politics. Brown identifies how the ability to grow food is a new leverage for geopolitical dominance, and countries now seek to grow food not to feed their own population, but rather to “secure their own parochial interests.” (Foreign Policy)

Food Insecurity Looms in Parched Horn of Africa (April 25, 2011)

The Horn of Africa is in the midst of the worse drought in 20 years. The problem is especially acute in Somalia where millions of people have been put at risk from food shortages linked to mass deaths of livestock. With no rains, this year’s harvest will suffer, further exacerbating the situation. Global climate change studies have forecast the region will become drier in the future. (New York Times)

China Crops in Short Supply as Fewer Farms Spur Food Prices (April 19, 2011)

China’s farmland is shrinking due to increased urbanization. Rapid growth of cities and rising incomes are placing pressure on global food supplies. If China’s grain production were to experience an unexpected shortfall, world grain markets would come under intense pressure. Recent developments may portend a trend of increasing prices as a wealthier China edges out competitors by driving up food prices on global markets. (Bloomberg)

Why the International Day of Peasants' Struggles is Important (April 18, 2011)

Peasants and small-scale farmers grow most of the food we consume. However, their contribution has not always been recognized. Prior to the start of the food crisis in 2007, it was widely believed that agribusiness would feed the world and there was no real need for small-scale farmers. With an increasing number of hungry people, governments must realize the limitations of the current agro-industrial model of food production and begin valuing small-scale farmers. It is time society stopped marginalizing peasants and started respecting the millions of peasants that feed the world. (Guardian)

Dispute Over Fishing Permits for Foreign Fleets Hots Up (April 16, 2011)

Fishing in Senegal supplies work to over 600,000 people and in 2009 accounted for over 1.7 % of GDP. According to the Senegalese Association of Fishing Companies and Ship Owners, 22 licenses to fish in Senegal’s national waters have been illegally granted to foreign trawlers and are contributing to the depletion of the country’s fish stock. The Senegalese government maintains that the permits are legal and will make the nation more competitive with its neighbors. (The Guardian)

IMF, World Bank Set to Discuss Global Economic Challenges (April 13, 2011)

World leaders meeting in Washington will discuss the spike in world food prices. World Bank President Robert Zoellick has said that greater transparency and early warning systems are necessary to mitigate the harmful effects of price shocks. But, this analysis seems to ignore speculation in global financial and commodity markets, which, coupled with the loose monetary policies of leading central banks, have stoked inflation and placed upward pressure on prices. Any future program that seeks to dampen price shocks should include an anti-speculative component. (

Excessive Speculation in Agriculture Commodities: Selected Writings from 2008 - 2011 (April 2011)

The Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) has published a report analyzing the role of speculation on rising commodity prices. The report states that volatile food prices have caused 40 million people to go hungry worldwide since 2008, and shows the impact of excessive speculation on small-scale farmers. In the report, National Director of Intelligence Dennis Blair tells the US Senate that the global economic crisis, triggered by financial deregulation, has “replaced Al-Qaeda as the number one U.S. national security threat.” The report also includes articles by UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter and Jayati Ghost from the World Development Movement. (IATP)

Quinoa's Global Success Creates Quandry at Home (March 19, 2011)

The Andean plant, quinoa, contains life-sustaining nutrients like amino acids. Demand for quinoa in rich developed countries helps to raise farmer’s incomes in Bolivia, where the crop is produced. Poor Bolivian people can no longer afford to purchase the food, as the price has tripled in the past 5 years. As a result, people eat more inexpensive processed foods, increasing malnutrition, especially among children. (New York Times)

Timor-Leste: Chronic Malnutrition Among World's Highest (February 25, 2011)

Afghanistan, Yemen and Timor-Leste have the highest rates of chronically malnourished children in the world. Meat, eggs and dairy products are unaffordable for families in Timor-Leste. Governments in these areas are weak and often cannot cope with food and hunger shortfalls, whilst conflict restricts aid efforts. According to the World Health organization, premature death, physical and mental disability can result from poor nutrition. (IRIN)

China's Weather Forecasters Reluctant to Confirm Rumors of Rain  (February 23, 2011)

China is experiencing its worst drought for 60 years. The world's largest wheat producer needs heavy rain to avoid a crop failure that would impact global food prices. Climate change, increased demands on agriculture, industry and urban centres put pressure on already scarce water supplies. Pollution is also contaminating food such as grain and wheat. At least 10 percent of China's farmland contains heavy metals, cadmium and other toxins, with 12 million tonnes of grain already contaminated. (The Guardian)

From Food Crisis to Food Sovereignty: The Challenge of Social  Movements (February 22, 2011)

Subsistence farmers have limited access to land and water and they cannot compete in global markets, but have a large proportion of the world's poorest people. This article examines the divide between food and producers and policymakers. The authors argue that institutions such as the World Bank and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization have a mandate from capital to mitigate hunger, defuse social unrest, and reduce peasant producers worldwide. They act to avoid change in the basic structure of the world's food systems.  (Alternet)

UN Agency on 'Red Alert' as Soaring Food Prices Threaten Millions of World's Poorest  (February 18, 2011)

The UN World Food Program helps to feed almost 100 million people worldwide. Poor and vulnerable people are disproportionally affected by recent food prices increases, political instability and weather emergencies. People living in extreme poverty spend more money on less nutritious food, which increases malnutrition and decreases income available for schooling and vital health services.  (UN News Centre)

The Looming Food Crisis  (February 18, 2011)

Developing and developed nations alike are feeling the impact of rising world food prices. Contributing factors include extreme weather events, speculation on food prices and subsidies diverting food for the production of biofuel. Rising food prices affect poorer countries disproportionately and sometimes result in political instability. This article argues that research and technology advances in agriculture can only sustain a growing population for a limited period, and that a failure to address the needs of the poor could threaten global security. (Yale Global Online Magazine)

Food: The Cost of Eating More Meat (February 14, 2011)

People in developed countries, and rapidly developing countries like China and Brazil, should eat less meat, according to a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). This could reduce the inflating price of some staple grains in the future. A study by IFPRI says that lowering meat consumption in African countries could reduce the number of malnourished children by a million by 2030. The removal of meat subsidies could also deter consumption and improve overall health. (IRIN)

The Psychology of Food Riots (January 30, 2011)

Riots and civil unrest caused, at least in part, by rising food prices, are occurring more frequently. Public feelings of injustice may cause more trouble than the volatility of food prices. According to this article, when the food system in Cameroon spun out of control, the restoration of justice helped calm rioters. Their anger came from a feeling of exploitation by merchants rather than from hunger.  This article argues that governments should be especially sensitive to justice issues as they address food-related crises. (Council on Foreign Relations)

Food Crises: We Need Architects, Not Firefighters (January 28, 2011)

Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, says that in order to tackle the food crisis, we must look at the root causes of the problem. The G-20 should focus and act upon eight priorities. The G-20 should support countries' ability to feed themselves, should establish food reserves and should limit financial speculation. De Schutter argues that governments should support sustainable agriculture and that we should defend the human right to food.  (UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food)

The Arab Crisis: Food, Energy, Water, Justice (January 26, 2011)

In many parts of the Arab world, an angry populace is facing high unemployment and rising food prices threatens social cohesion. According to the World Bank, Arab countries import more than half their food; their economies depend on oil prices while rising energy prices make food more expensive. Land and water resources are diminishing and climate change is undermining agricultural production. This article examines the linkage between environmental degradation, resource depletion and political systems in states including Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan and Egypt.(Open Democracy)

Food Worries Rise in China (January 19, 2011)

People need food to survive. Food security is the basis of national security. The right to food requires that people have incomes allowing them to purchase food, as well as sustainable food systems. China has made significant social and economic progress in the past three decades, however shrinking arable land and environmental degradation threatens the ability of the country to maintain current levels of agricultural production, according to UN Special Rapporteur, Olivier de Schutter. (IPS)

Arab regimes Fear Bread Intifadah (January 18, 2011)

State leaders who fail to provide affordable food may pay a high price. Ben Ali, the ousted ruler of Tunisia, hugely underestimated the anger of people unable to feed their families. Staple food items such as wheat, sugar and milk rose about 25 per cent this year. In the past there have been food riots in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan and Algeria. Hunger, in addition to high unemployment, rising living costs and poverty are increasingly resulting in political movements and social unrest.  (IPS)

Latest Food Crisis Brewing for Months (January 10, 2011)

World market prices for rice, wheat, sugar, barley and meat are rising and expected to stay high throughout 2011. As in the crisis of 2008, the rise of food prices is a combination of bad harvests increasing demand and food speculation. Many developing countries are already feeling the effects especially those reliant on food imports. Last September there were riots in Mozambique over the increasing cost of bread, and there has been recent food-related unrest in Algeria and Tunisa. (IPS)


Kuala Lumpur Guidelines for a Human Rights Approach to Economic Policy in Agriculture (December 2010)

Universal human rights can provide a framework to direct the design, implementation and monitoring of economic policies. The Kuala Lumpur Guidelines provide basic information for anyone concerned with ensuring the centrality of human rights for people affected by trade, investment and finance rules as well as economic policies related to agriculture. This document outlines a three-part approach; Guiding Principles for a Human Rights Approach to Economic Law and Policy, Human Rights Actors, Issues and Threats in Agriculture, and Human Rights Obligations and Economic Policy Tools in Agriculture. The Guidelines conclude by asserting that States have a shared responsibility to implement human rights-centered economic policies in agriculture which transcend national borders. (International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights & Center of Concern)

Food Security, Farming and Climate Change to 2050 - Scenarios, Results, Policy Options (December 2010)

By 2050 most of the world's estimated 9 billion people are expected to live in developing countries. These countries will face enormous difficulty in producing enough food for their people, especially environmentally sustainable production. Food security, farming and climate change are closely linked. This report by the International Food Policy Research Institute provides an analysis on the scope of climate change as it relates to food security, including recommendations on what policymakers can do to promote adaptation. (IFPRI)

Fewer Hungry, but More Hunger Waits (September 14, 2010)

Almost one billion people go hungry. Even though the numbers have been reduced (for the first time in 15 years), the fact remains that the underlying causes of hunger have still not been sufficiently dealt with by governments. The main challenge is not to feed the hungry on a day by day basis, but to make sure poor people in developing areas are no longer vulnerable to factors like sudden economic fluctuations, food price speculation or failed crops. If governments made long-term investments in small-scale agriculture to support rural people and if they provided a real social safety net, the MDG1 could perhaps be fulfilled. (IPS)

Wall Street Reform Bill Will Limit Excessive Speculation (July 21, 2010)

The Wall Street reform bill recently signed into law in Washington could potentially reduce price volatility in agriculture. The bill includes reform on commodity speculation and places limitations on derivatives contracts. The legislation also promotes greater transparency and strengthens mechanisms to conduct investigations on market fraud and manipulation. The new measures may be a step towards decreasing the artificially high prices of food and agricultural goods. (IATP)

Independent UN Expert Urges Reforms to Boost Right to Food (May 14, 2010)

A UN expert has called for national institutional reforms to provide legal foundations for the right to food. Boosting food production should not be confused with realizing the human right to food agriculture. The right to food has gained significant ground in many food-insecure regions, however much remains to be done. (UN News)

Angola's Small-Scale Farmers Welcome Investment, Urge Careful Targeting (May 14, 2010)

Angola's oil-oriented government was badly affected by the plunge in oil prices due to the global economic crisis. In 2009 the government responded with a major counter-cyclical stimulus plan to rejuvenate the non-oil economy, focusing on agriculture and services to create rural jobs and long-term sustainable industries. The $1bn investment targets infrastructure to improve access to markets, and irrigation technologies suitable for small-scale farming. Sergio Calundungo, who heads an Angolan NGO, remarks that Angola is better off than most because there is money available to spend, but he continues to scrutinize government spending to ensure the money is directed to the benefit of small-scale producers. (IPS)

Farmers on the Fringe of International Agri Policy (April 14, 2010)

At the Global Conference on Agriculture Research and Development (GCARD) in Montpellier, France, it seems the barriers to a sustainable food system are well understood, but nobody wants to confront them.  The conference convened to deliberate on the $500m of public funds for international agricultural research carried out by an alliance of 8000 researcher in 100 countries, in a process known as GCARD. The process is widely criticized and it is said that researchers are wanting to solve their own problems, not the problems faced by farmers. GCARD is also criticized for not coming to terms with the IAASTD report, a comprehensive and scientific report criticizing industrial agriculture for its effect on the environment and society. (IPS)

Report Finds radical Change Needed For Global Agriculture (March 25, 2010)

A report funded by international organizations and development agencies conclude that our current global food system will require fundamental changes to cope with the future state of our planet. This includes a reform of the fragmented global system of research and development to better suit the needs of small scale farmers. Knowledge and research can be more effectively mobilized to study the interaction of agriculture, food security, poverty, and the environment. (EurekAlert)

Food Rights and Wrongs (March , 2010)

One third of the world's population suffers from malnutrition. Of the hungry population, women are affected most severely - accounting for 60% of the suffering.  This vulnerability is particularly ironic since women produce and manage most of the available food in developing countries. The author identifies food sovereignty as key to protecting women's right to food and addressing the inequality which weakens the current food production system. (Third World Network)

Green Revolution in India Wilts as Subsidies in India Backfire (February 23, 2010)

In the three decades, since the Green Revolution, the Indian Government has continued to subsidize urea fertilizer. Overuse of urea depletes the soil of vital nutrients. As a result India's crop yields are decreasing dramatically.  Likewise, food imports and food prices are increasing. To address the gathering food crisis, the government is introducing new incentives for farmers to replenish nutrients in the soil. However, to maintain the political allegiance of farmers and fertilizer manufacturers, the government continues to pay for over half the domestic production of urea - and so continues to fuel the food crisis. (Wall Street Journal)

Snapshot of Food Security (February 5, 2010)

The global recession has drastically affected southern African countries. Unfavorable climate conditions have added to the rising food security problem. This article, based on information gathered from FAO, UNICEF and WFP and other sources, gives a quick review about the food production and circulation in the region. (IRIN)



IAASTD REPORT: Executive Summary of the Synthiesis Report (2009)

The IASSTD Report (International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development), addresses how to make better use of agricultural science, knowledge and technology in order to reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods and encourage sustainable development. This summary provides a brief outline of the main areas covered by the comprehensive report - bioenergy, biotechnology, climate change, and global trade. It also provides a link to where more documents related to the report, including the full report itself, can be found.

Hunger Summit's Failure Exposes Grim Reality ( November 19, 2009)

The World Food Summit in Rome ended with little outcome much to the regret of developing countries and the world's one billion hungry. The governments agreed on neither financial targets nor concrete deadlines to eradicate hunger. Italy's Silvio Berlusconi was the only G8 leader to attend. Rich countries apparently do not want to tackle hunger in a broad UN setting, preferring instead conservative venues such as the World Bank and the G8. (IPS)

Right to Food and Nutrition Watch (October 2009)

The current world food system has failed to establish a sustainable solution to the global food crisis. The "Right to Food and Nutrition Watch" points out key questions on who governs the system and how this system can be reshaped in the future. In addition, this analysis focuses on the implementation of the human right to food and nutrition with particular country cases. This report states its purpose as rising public pressure on policy makers and also providing solid knowledge of best (and worst) practices. (Brot für die Welt, ICCO and FIAN International)

The Global Food Price Crisis (June 26, 2009)

Approximately one billion people suffer from hunger. High food prices make food unaffordable to millions of families. Orthodox analysts argue that the crisis is due to restrictions on genetically modified organisms and barriers to the spread of commercial agriculture. The author clearly disagrees and advocates instead for small scale, natural farming. Approximately one billion people suffer from hunger. High food prices make food unaffordable to millions of families. Orthodox analysts argue that the crisis is due to restrictions on genetically modified organisms and barriers to the spread of commercial agriculture. The author clearly disagrees and advocates instead for small scale, natural farming. (Share the World's Resources)

Studies Reveal Hunger Crisis in Malawi Despite Large Harvests (February 10, 2009)

Increased production of food, through fertilizers and seeds alone, proves insufficient to tackle hunger and malnutrition in Malawi. Despite record high maize yields, which can be attributed to seed and fertilizer subsidies, half the population of Malawi experiences food shortages for six months of the year. In an effort to achieve food security for all, NGOs are pressing the Malawian government to pass a "right to food bill." This would hold governments and corporations accountable, where their actions cause loss of access to food production assets such as land and water. This move could ensure the right to food. (Voice of America)

Food is a Human Right, Not a Corporate Commodity (February 5, 2009)

The authors of this open letter challenge Paul Collier's view, which rules out the peasant model of organic and small-scale farming as a mechanism for resolving world hunger. Collier argues that 'scientific' commercial agribusiness and GM crops are the most effective way to increase food production. However, analysis from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization shows that small-scale agriculture can achieve far greater crop yields than commercial methods, while also maintaining biodiversity. With increasing speculation on food and oil prices contributing to the hunger crisis, food production must focus on the right to food and avoid Collier's route, which renders food primarily a marketable commodity. (Pambazuka)

Surprise Ending in Madrid! No Consensus on a G8 Driven Partnership...for Now (January 28, 2009)

In their final declaration on the High Level Meeting on Food Security, farmers and civil society organizations qualify the solutions proposed to solve the food crisis such as the green revolution, as unsustainable. They argue the proposed "Global Partnership for Food and Agriculture" as superficial rhetoric on civil society inclusion and instead demand a UN based partnership that does not give decision making authority to private corporations and foundations. (La Via Campesina)

The Feeding of the Nine Billion - Global Food Security for the 21st Century (January 2009)

In this report, the London based think-tank Chatham House outlines the drivers of the food crisis and presents a "ten-point agenda for international action" to tackle world hunger. In particular, policy-makers in the EU and the US should abolish agricultural subsidies and developing country governments must adopt measures that strengthen small-hold farmers. The report concludes that a "21st Century Green Revolution" must place power in the hands of the farmers rather than seed companies. (Chatham House)


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