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Archived Articles on Trade and Food Production System


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High Cereal Prices Hitting Poor Countries: FAO (December 9, 2006)

In November 2006, world cereal prices reached their highest level in 10 years, according to UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) December 2006 Food Outlook. As a result of the higher prices, the FAO predicts that in 2006 developing countries will spend 5 percent more on food imports than they did in 2005. Along with poor harvest, the price increases stem from a fast growing demand for biofuel that diverts crops away from food purposes. (Hindu Business Line)

World's Hungry Swell to 852 Million Despite Promises to Eradicate Hunger: UN Expert (October 26, 2006)

The number of hungry across the world continues to increase, reports UN News. UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler blames the rising hunger levels on degraded lands, "massive underfunding" of UN feeding programs, and EU and US agricultural subsidizing and dumping. With 80 percent of the world's hungry living in the countryside, governments and UN agencies must invest in small-scale agriculture and irrigation, Ziegler argues. He further highlights that people must have "access to justice" when their right to food is violated, and recommends that "Israel be held responsible under international law" for the extensive damage that its bombings did to Lebanese livelihoods.

UN Food Envoy Slams Europe over 'Hunger Refugees' (September 22, 2006)

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, strongly criticizes Europe's policy towards Africa. Ziegler highlights the obvious, but vastly ignored, connection between EU agricultural subsidies and the large flow of African migrants to Europe. While Europe destroys African agriculture by dumping subsidized food, Europeans want their borders closed to poverty-stricken Africans and respond with security measures to a problem which is in fact about "hunger refugees." Ziegler calls for a halt to the "deadly dumping." (AlertNet)

Gateses Approach to African Hunger Is Bound to Fail (September 22, 2006)

In this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article, agricultural development specialist Peter Rosset criticizes the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations' US $150 million initiative to bring a "new" green revolution to Africa. Rosset finds that an "apparent naiveté about the causes of hunger" has led the Gateses to invest in technology packages that will likely only benefit seed and fertilizer industries, have "negligible impacts" on total food production and worsen countryside marginalization. Rosset holds much higher hopes for the "Food Sovereignty" approach focusing on ending "free trade extremism," improving land access for the poor, and increasing support for family farmers and ecological farming methods.

Nestle Gobbles Up Jenny Craig (June 19, 2006)

This article reports on how Nestlé – a major producer of chocolate and sweets – took over Jenny Craig – a producer of weight-loss products. In a similar move, Unilever – another major food producer – bought both Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and Slim Fast in 2000. These major food producers do not only make money by steering consumption towards processed, low nutrition value foods that cause obesity. They also make money from their customer's attempts to battle obesity. (Associated Press)

12 Myths About Hunger (Summer 2006)

This Food First list provides a critique of traditional hunger alleviation including US aid, the free market, and population control. The points demonstrate the misconceptions that limit the effectiveness of hunger relief. The article suggests that by recognizing these faults, individuals and agencies can better identify ways to address underlying causes of hunger.

A World Addicted to Hunger: Part 1 (May 3, 2006)

850 million people suffer from chronic hunger and five to six million have lost the capacity to produce or buy enough food, even under normal weather and market conditions. As most poor countries actually produce enough food to feed all of their people, Inter Press Service sees unequal distribution and limited physical and economic access to food as the main causes of famines. Furthermore, man-made crises, such as wars, have more than doubled the number of famines since 1992.

A World Addicted to Hunger: Part 2 (May 3, 2006)

In this article, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) make clear that, thanks to highly developed early warning systems, rich governments can prevent most famines. However, donor countries seldom prioritize "preventability" and hesitate to give money until the press shows pictures of ongoing humanitarian crises. Inter Press Service also points out differencing opinions between the FAO and the WFP on the impact of direct food shipments to starving people.

America's Masterplan Is to Force GM Food on the World (February 13, 2006)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) penalized the European Union for banning genetically modified (GM) food imports between 1999 and 2003. The penalties will please the highly subsidized US food corporations, while discouraging resistance to GM food imports all over the world. (Guardian)

Africa's Hunger - A Systemic Crisis (January 31, 2006)

This BBC article looks at the main factors causing Africa's continuous struggle for agricultural self sufficiency. Decades of underinvestment in rural areas, hundreds of armed conflicts, HIV and high fertility rates turned Africa from a net food-exporter in the 50s into a continent dependent on foreign aid and food imports. Furthermore, many rich countries destroy local agricultural markets with subsidized food exports while abusing aid for their own corporate interests.

Fixing the Humanitarian Aid System (January 2006)

This article likens the international emergency relief system to a "lottery" where media coverage decides which countries receive aid. Furthermore, donor governments' tie their decreasing contributions to their economic and political interests. Africa Renewal calls for a more predictable and fair distribution of aid funds and urges governments to support initiatives like the United Nation's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). In addition, the article clarifies the controversy between food-shipments and locally bought food.


Niger: The IMF and World Bank's Invisible War on Africans (September 1, 2005)

The author of this article charges that the "western powers" are responsible for the famine crisis in Niger. In recent years, neoliberal policies of the International Monetary Fund have contributed to famine in several areas of Africa, most recently in Niger. Surprisingly (or not), one IMF-imposed condition required that countries receiving aid sell off their grain reserves. (Kilombo)

Coordinating Global Efforts to Curb Corporate Power in the Food System (September 2005)

After two decades of uncompromising liberalization, transnational corporations now drive the global food system. Corporations' "tremendous political and economic power" created and worsened soil erosion, air and water pollution, pesticide residues and the inhumane treatment of animals. In addition, transnational corporations often influence governments' positions on agricultural and food issues. This publication calls for farmers, workers, consumers and environmental activists to "create a united response to corporate power." (Center of Concern)

Africa Falters in Food Security Goals (August 11, 2005)

A recent study published by the International Food Policy Research Institute says that Africa will not meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. In the last three decades, the food shortage has substantially worsened and the debt burden still obstructs funding for productive investments in development in Africa." The upcoming UN summit in September should represent an opportunity to review this strategy. (Inter Press Service)

Blenheim and Bangalore (July 5, 2005)

The Duke of Marlborough, a British aristocrat, receives over half a million pounds sterling in agricultural subsidies for his Blenheim estate near Oxford. At the same time, desperate Indian peasants, overwhelmed by subsidized imports and free-market reforms, commit suicide in large numbers. Rahul Rao, an Oxford-based scholar, connects Blenheim with his home city of Bangalore in India, showing a global web of institutions, policies and responsibilities that simultaneously creates wealth and destitution.

Bitter Harvest: How EU Sugar Subsidies Devastate Africa (June 22, 2005)

The EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has distorted trade for decades. The sugar industry illustrates the injustice of this policy all too clearly. While the EU guarantees its sugar farmers a price that is over three times the world market price, African sugar producers struggle in vain to compete in an unfair market. These subsidies, paid for by European taxpayers, mean the security of a way of life in the North, but cost millions of African jobs, causing increased poverty and malnutrition. (Independent)

Farm Subsidies That Starve the World (June 20, 2005)

This article from the New Statesman examines the global effects of agricultural subsidies. Although fair trade is growing, consumers "remain fixated by price, whatever the consequences." These subsidies allow rich nations to keep their agricultural goods artificially low, and thus African producers, unable to compete, are doomed to fail. Fields lie barren and unused, next to piles of US rice—food aid for farmers that rich countries have subsidized out of a job.

Part of the Problem: Trade, Transnational Corporations, and Hunger (March 2005)

Advocates of free trade have long pushed for the liberalization and acceleration of the global food trade. Bodies like the World Trade Organization (WTO) treat agricultural goods like any other consumer good. But as the number of hungry people in the world grows, critics are raising questions about who benefits from liberalizing the food trade. Transnational corporations (TNCs) like Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, and Monsanto have profited tremendously from the food trade, while rural farmers and the global poor suffer the consequences. (Center Focus)

Agriculture Prices Decline, Devastating Countries that Export Single Product (February 15, 2005)

According to a new report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), real prices of most farm products have fallen and the long-term forecasts do not look encouraging. While the lower price gives many urban consumers access to a more nutritious diet, it hurts billions of people who derive their livelihoods from agriculture, especially in poor countries that depend on a single commodity. (UN News)

Power Hungry: Six Reasons to Regulate Global Food Corporations (January 2005)

This report from ActionAid shows how trade liberalization concentrates power over the global food market into fewer hands. Five companies now control 90 % of the world's grain trade and one company, Monsanto, manages 91 % of the global genetically modified seed market. Market concentration drives down prices for staple goods like wheat, coffee and tea, hurting farmers and small producers in poor countries.


Africa's Hungry Are Fed Bad Policies (December 30, 2004)

Poor countries' reliance on western policies risks growing further as the US pushes for the global acceptance of genetically modified (GM) products. For long, rich countries' conditionalities and trade and economic policies have narrowed poor countries' options for dealing with food crises. This article concludes that Africa's embrace of GM products will rather stem from a lack of options, than from voluntary action. (YaleGlobal)

Think Globally, Eat Locally (December 18, 2004)

This New York Times op-ed piece argues that the combination of cheap and "insecure" food from overseas and the consolidation of domestic production by a few food supply giants "compromises America's ability to feed itself." The author cautions about bio-terrorism and food processing incidents and calls for an agricultural policy shift through the establishment of small scale community-based food systems to achieve true food security.

Factory Farming in the Developing World (May/June 2003)

Global meat production has increased five-fold since 1950 and the consumption of meat continues to rise fast in poor countries, where meat symbolizes wealth. This World Watch Institute article argues against factory farming of animals. It uses the example of the chicken industry in the Philippines to illustrate how the current meat industry threatens food security and has severe social and environmental consequences.

Global Obesity Epidemic 'Out of Control' (November 1, 2004)

As poor countries still struggle with the legacy of malnutrition, the fast rise in obesity paradoxically emerges as a serious threat to health and development. A South African conference on obesity concludes that fear of AIDS, throughout the African continent nicknamed "slim," dissuades people from losing weight. As a result, South African obesity levels equal those in the US. (New Zealand Herald)

World Food Day: Iraqi Farmers Aren't Celebrating (October 15, 2004)

Iraq's new agricultural legislation, which the US has helped in crafting, jeopardizes the country's food sovereignty. The patent on life forms will make seed savings illegal, pushing farmers towards dependency on seeds from transnational agribusiness corporations. (Grain)

World Food Day 2004 Highlights the Importance of Biodiversity to Global Food Security (October 15, 2004)

The Food and Agriculture Organization dedicated the 2004 World Food Day to promoting biodiversity, which could end hunger and create global food security. Up to three-quarters of genetic diversity of agricultural crops have been lost over the last century – a figure that especially affects rural families in harsh natural conditions whose survival depends on sustainable biodiversity.

Hunger on the Rise in the Philippines (October 12, 2004)

Focus on the Global South raises concerns about the Philippine government's response to a looming national food crisis. This article suggests that Philippine leaders should revise the country's liberalization policies in food, agriculture and development rather than look for temporary relief solutions such as food coupons.

The More We Grow, The Less Able We Are to Feed Ourselves (August 29, 2004)

The total global harvest is larger than ever before in human history, but even so the demand for food escerts the supply. This article asks whether the dark predictions of Thomas Malthus might come true after all. Rising wealth, global water-shortages, overpopulation and overall loss in fertile land, make the world unable to feed itself in a sustainable way. (Independent)

Hungry World 'Must Eat Less Meat' (August, 2004)

SIWI, Stockholm International Water Institute, states that the diet in the developed countries is unsustainable as the world is running out of water for food production. Western Europe and North America have to change their over-consumption of meat in order for the world to be able to feed itself in the future. (BBC)

Drastic Cuts in Rations as WFP Faces Pipeline Breaks (April 2, 2004)

The Angolan government's ban on genetically modified food and insufficient donor funds have put the World Food Programme's (WFP) food deliverance operations in the country in severe jeopardy. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Progress on Reducing Hunger Has Stopped, UN Expert on Right to Food Says (March 30, 2004)

Each year, 36 million people die from hunger and 840 million people suffer from chronic malnutrition in poor countries. UN Special Rapporteur, Jean Ziegler, explains how poor countries are developing alternative models for agricultural trade, as they believe that the international free trade promises are illusory. (UN News Service)



Feeding a Hungry World: Is Biotechnology the Answer? (October 16, 2003)

A new research initiative supported by the Gates Foundation, USAID and the World Bank, claims that "biofortification" – the selection of crops with greater nutritional contents – will combat malnutrition. Yet, this focus on technology disregards the root causes of hunger, which lie in an unfair system of food production and distribution. (Inter Press Service)

Challenging the Rules: Global Hunger and the Politics of Food (October 16, 2003)

Oxfam identifies economic policies such as the IMF-imposed Structural Adjustment Policies, and unfair trade rules as main issues that cause and perpetuate world hunger. Solutions could include supporting small farmers and farmer organizations.

Hunger in a world of Plenty (October 10, 2003)

One out of eight people in the world is malnourished, and the vast majority of these people live in countries that produce enough food to feed them. Though governments and businesses tout capitalism as the answer to these economic woes, this article claims that capitalism is the very cause of such problems, stating, "poverty and inequality aren't an accident under capitalism. The system is structured to produce them." (Socialist Worker)

Starved by the IMF (October 9, 2003)

The neo-liberal policies of the IMF and the World Bank forced poor countries to focus on export of agricultural goods, instead of subsistence farming. This has created a situation where poor countries produce abundant cash crops, but insufficient quantities of food, leaving millions of people hungry. (Rabble)

UN Official Plans to Urge US Reconsider Food Policies (September 24, 2003)

The US provides great amounts of food aid. But by granting subsidies to US farmers and cutting down aid to farmers in poor countries, it becomes harder for poor farmers to sustain themselves. (New York Times)

Farmers Switch to Commercial Farming (September 2003)

After Swaziland's droughts and declining harvests the World Food Programme started to provide emergency food aid to almost one fourth of the population. To adapt to changing climate conditions, Swazis have begun to abandon pure subsistence farming of the "traditional" crop maize for the sake of drought resistant cash crops like cotton. (AfricaNews)

The Right to Food (August 28, 2003)

UN special rapporteur Jean Ziegler worries that transnational corporations' control over the food system might hinder people's access to food. He calls for the rapid development of a coherent legal framework that forces transnational corporations to comply with human rights standards such as the right to food.

Vatican Council Backs Genetically Modified Foods on Moral Grounds (August 8, 2003)

A recent Vatican council document urges Pope John Paul II to back biotechnology, considering genetically modified organisms the only way to meet the growing worldwide food demand and thus, to alleviate world hunger. (

Are Ordinary People in the US to Blame for World Poverty? (August 8, 2003)

Eating less or refusing to buy brand name products won't fight hunger or save poor citizens across the globe. US policies and policy makers that create structural changes to corporate privileges and food production will get at the roots of global inequality. (Socialist Worker)

Hungry in America (July 31, 2003)

The Nation denounces the US government for being "indifferent to the basic needs of its citizens," by not providing food to the 33 million people who suffer from hunger in the world's richest country.

Why People Still Starve (July 13, 2003)

Reporter Barry Bearak describes a Malawian family experience with starvation. The article provides real-life references to the root causes of hunger, including trade, international food aid, and environmental problems. (New York Times Magazine)

Markets = Famine (July 8, 2003)

The food supply of poor countries is too vital to be left to the market and donors. Nonetheless, rich countries with their own food supply systems pressure African nations to comply with market trends and risky agricultural policies. (ZNet)

Behind the Famine in Ethiopia: Glut and Aid Policies Gone Bad (July 1, 2003)

Neo-liberal policies cut Ethiopian farmers off from government price supports and push for private sector production without providing poor farmers with the necessary equipment and training to compete globally.(Wall Street Journal)

Brazil's War on Hunger off to a Slow Start (March 30, 2003)

Brazil's Zero Hunger program has generated more controversy than results, mired in internal debate within the new government. President Lula da Silva adopted IMF prescribed austerity measures that reduced the scope of aid provisions to hungry families, provoking widespread resentment. (New York Times)

Once Secure, Argentines Now Lack Food and Hope (March 2, 2003)

This report illustrates how the recent financial crisis has hurt Argentina's public, including widespread hunger, malnutrition and a public health crisis. (New York Times)

Liberalisation Makes Rajasthan's Drought Lethal (February 5, 2003)

The monsoon hasn't come to northeastern India since 1998, but development workers say India's economic liberalization, not drought alone, is responsible for the current famine. Relief organization Christian Aid has seen an increase in rural poverty and acute hunger since India began liberalizing its economy and dismantling agricultural subsidies. (Guardian)

Let Free Trade Help Alleviate Hunger in Zimbabwe (January 27, 2003)

World Food Programme head James Morris says that allowing grain to be bought and sold freely on the market would help alleviate Zimbabwe's severe food crisis. The government fixes the price of grain below regional market prices, inhibiting businesses from selling in Zimbabwe. (Associated Press)

Lula Launches War on Hunger - Both Causes and Effects (January 30, 2003)

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's "Zero Hunger" plan takes a multifaceted approach to addressing the causes, not just the symptoms, of hunger. The plan aims to create jobs, improve access to education, and expand land reform in addition to providing immediate hunger relief. (Inter Press Service)

Nestlé U-Turn on Ethiopia Debt (January 24, 2003)

After receiving a flood of letters in protest from the global public, Nestlé backed down from its demand that Ethiopia pay $6 million in reparations. The company settled on $1.5 million, which it will pour directly into famine relief efforts. (Guardian)


Nestle Insists on Ethiopia Refund (December 19, 2002)

Swiss-based Nestle demands that famine-stricken Ethiopia reimburse it for $6 million lost after the Communist regime nationalized a firm owned by its subsidiary company in 1975. While Nestle made $3.9 billion in profits the first six months of this year, Ethiopia faces one of the worst food crises in its history. (BBC)

Ethiopian Crisis is Real but not New (November 15, 2002)

International aid groups warn that drought, increased food prices and soil erosion have placed Ethiopia's subsistence-based communities in danger of starvation. NGOs say that both developed and developing countries must focus on the root of the problems, such as trade imbalances. (AlertNet)

Homegrown: The Case for Local Food in a Global Market (November 2002)

Advanced technology and modern food production systems offer consumers an unprecedented choice of any type of food, anywhere, at any time. Meanwhile, this WorldWatch paper questions the efficiency of long-distance food trade by pointing out the unseen environmental, agricultural and social costs and calls for a shift from global to local food production and consumption.

A Richer World Keeps Failing to End Hunger, Says UN (October 28, 2002)

Rich nations produce enough food to feed the entire world, but global famine has reached an unprecedented scale. Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights Jean Siegler argues that wealthy countries, by failing to alleviate hunger, violate the international human right to food for millions of people. (Inter Press Service)

IMF Blamed for Malawi Famine (October, 2002)

A report from the World Development Movement reveals that IMF and World Bank enforced policies are responsible for turning a food shortage into large-scale famine in Malawi.

The Real Reasons For Hunger (June 23, 2002)

"Leading Indian ecological activist Vandana Shiva disagrees with Amartya Sen's analysis of global hunger and democracy." She argues that trade liberalization and globalization are primary causes for hunger today and, in fact, undermine the democratic process. (Guardian)

IMF Accused of Role in Malawi Famine (June 14, 2002)

NGOs accuse the IMF of causing famine and death in Malawi. They hold the Fund responsible for creating "the commercial debt that the government sought to pay off with proceeds of the grain sale." (One World)

The Real Reasons For Hunger (June 23, 2002)

"Leading Indian ecological activist Vandana Shiva disagrees with Amartya Sen's analysis of global hunger and democracy." She argues that trade liberalization and globalization are primary causes for hunger today and, in fact, undermine the democratic process. (Guardian)

Buying and Selling: Trade Leads to Greed, Hunger (June 3, 2002)

As rich countries blame the lack of economic growth in developing countries on corruption in poor-country governments, the rich have fixed international trade rules to benefit themselves. This exemplifies the hypocrisy of the rich as well as their determination to perpetuate global inequality. (East African Standard)

Price of Free Trade: Famine (March 22, 2002)

The impact of trade liberalization in Central America has already led to skyrocketing interest rates and bankrupt farms. The author argues that the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement will exacerbate these problems, deepening an already widespread famine in the region. (Los Angeles Times)

At the Heart of Hunger (2002)

The Christian Science Monitor's investigation of the hunger crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa includes photos, maps, and in-depth reports on AIDS, the environment, international trade, and genetically modified foods.

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