High food prices push world to the brink

Food riots, millions of starving refugees fleeing war zones, and devastating droughts are pushing the world towards chaos. At a time of global economic crisis, the world’s poor have been hit with a triple whammy. While jobs have disappeared and commodity prices have crashed, food prices have continued to spike.

“For the first time in human history one out of every six people on the planet is going to bed hungry,” said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the $5 billion annual United Nations World Food Program.

“Over the past five years when food prices were going up, national (food) purchase budgets were not. That drew down the stocks, and they became dangerously low around the world.”

Combined with job losses, shrinking family incomes, trade deficits and plunging remittances sent to the poor from relatives abroad, increasingly unaffordable food prices are taking the world to the tipping point of what is sustainable, said the Rome-based Sheeran to the Toronto Star during a visit to Ottawa in early May.

Whatever happened to the capitalist ‘green revolution’ that was supposed to transform third world agriculture forty years ago? Clearly, it takes more than a limited application of fertilizer and machines to overcome huge concentrations of land ownership, to defeat the power of transnational corporations that dominate world commerce, promote expensive genetically modified seeds, and engage in ‘free trade’ surplus commodity dumping practices.

Just ask the debt-wracked, despairing farmers of India, where 1000 a month commit suicide — over 200,000 since 1997, according to the National Crime Records Bureau in India. -Barry Weisleder