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Thread: Some insight into the food crisis

  1. #1
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Some insight into the food crisis

    Maybe the source of the food crisis is not quite what we think it is. Here is the full blog post that I put up about it, after coming across some interesting info today.

    I think that it is worth trying to understand some of the reasons we are heading towards a food crisis.

    The result of all of this deregulation meant that small producers lost access to the local market giving global market access to a few global producers. Three companies—Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, and Bunge—control the vast majority of global grain trading, while Monsanto controls more than one-fifth of the global market in seeds. Consumers from Sioux City to Soweto are more and more dependent on fewer and fewer producers. By eliminating the breadth and diversity of the system, we’ve eliminated its ability to withstand shock or manipulation.

    Perhaps the greatest evidence of the scale of deregulation of the world agricultural market is the liquidation of reliable grain reserves. Though we’ve impressively deregulated financial markets, the Federal Reserve and central bankers across the globe still maintain the ability to soften the spikes and plunges of our monetary system. Not so in food markets. For centuries grain reserves have been an essential component of functioning food systems. When prices are high grain reserves can be released on the market, bringing prices down. When prices are low, reserve systems buy up grain, bringing prices back up. In the last two decades, however, the U.S. and most other governments have let reserve systems wither, placing full faith in the free market to self-correct, and eliminating their last emergency response mechanism.

    Read the full article on UrbanSprout. Also further reading
    I am no fan of biofuels (or plastics), but I have been a little bit suspicious that all the fingers are being pointed at it as the main cause of the food crisis.

    But, looking at this, But, looking at this, this crisis is a much more complex and deadly beast. We have already seen the same thing playing out in South Africa in both our bread and diary industries.

    Unlike money supply there is currently no way to normalise the fluctuations in food prices - so where to from here? What can we do to fend of this looming crisis?

    Trevor Manuel has quite clearly indicated what he thinks is best - grow as much food as possible.

    Manuel said food prices had broken out of a 150-year pricing band and shot up in relation to other living expenses. “I don’t think you are going to see a reduction in prices for some time, so whatever can be done to encourage people to plant on every piece of arable land would be a benefit to all,” he said.
    I think a lot of people see that comment as a drive for subsistence farming. Yes, and no. In the face of rising food prices, producing food will be a profitable business, whether on a small or large scale. And that means that growing more food makes good business (and social) sense for South Africa.

    On the other hand there is a strong case for backyard growing, as well as the conversion of water loving fields of grass to food producing gardens.

    "Agriculture is becoming more and more suburban," says Roxanne Christensen, publisher of Spin-Farming LLC, a Philadelphia company started in 2005 that sells guides and holds seminars teaching a small-scale farming technique that involves selecting high-profit vegetables like kale, carrots and tomatoes to grow, and then quickly replacing crops to reap the most from plots smaller than an acre. "Land is very expensive in the country, so people are saying, 'why not just start growing in the backyard?' "
    So maybe amongst all the turmoil there is a great opportunity. For some it may be a financial opportunity. For others (like me) it is an opportunity to have some fun (because growing stuff is cool) and contribute in a meaningful way to a number of issues facing us.

    Will you be a victim or a hero of this crisis?

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    Weeeelll, umm if we start thinking like this I suppose it could be the way of the world/universe to restore balance. More backyard/subsistence farming = less carbon footprint = more ozone = longer earth life. Maybe this is just simply the way it is and ACTUALLY as humans we are simply playing out our lives as scripted?


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  3. #3
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Lets chat about the deregulation of the world agricultural markets. Where is the right "zone" for governments to play a role in regulating food prices? Should they be doing the same thing as the reserve banks do and buy up excess when it is available, and release it when there is a shortage?

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by duncan drennan View Post
    Should they be doing the same thing as the reserve banks do and buy up excess when it is available, and release it when there is a shortage?
    It's what the old and now dismantled Agricultural Boards used to do.

    I find it intriguing the way governments have leapt on this now, when essentially food as an issue has been around for ages. Maybe because it might topple governments it's a little closer to home

    Anyhow, some interesting bits out of the UN food crisis conference currently being held in Rome:
    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon opened the summit on Tuesday with a call to nations to minimise export restrictions and import tariffs to help the poor cope with dramatically escalating food prices. He said world food production must rise by 50% by 2030 to meet increasing demand.

    High fuel costs, speculation, increased demand for meat and dairy products in emerging nations like India and China, and the conversion of crops into bio-fuel have been blamed for skyrocketing food prices.

    The soaring prices have widened hunger and sparked riots and protests in several countries in Africa and Asia.

    "Some countries have taken action by limiting exports or by imposing price controls," Ban said. "They only distort markets and force prices even higher."

    UN officials said on Monday that they also intend to request that the United States and other nations phase out subsidies for food-based biofuels, including ethanol. But in his speech on Tuesday, Ban only called for "a greater degree of international consensus on biofuels".

    That, however, could be difficult: Participants do not even agree on how much a role biofuels play in driving up prices.
    The lead out in the story though is Mugabe defending his land seizures:
    Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, whose 28-year rule has brought widespread hunger to his country, on Tuesday defended the seizure of land from white farmers, saying he is undoing a legacy of Zimbabwe's former colonial masters.

    Mugabe spoke to world leaders at a United Nations summit on the global food crisis against a backdrop of sharp criticism over his participation.

    Once hailed as a hero of African liberation, Mugabe has come to be widely reviled for presiding over the collapse of a onetime African bread basket into a nation where millions go hungry.

    "Over the past decade, Zimbabwe has democratised the land ownership patterns in the country, with over 300 000 previously landless families now proud landowners," Mugabe said.
    full story M&G here
    Dirt for dinner, anyone?

    Of course, Bob was staying at a posh hotel near the top of Rome's Via Veneto, an elegant street lined with chic cafés.
    Seeing opportunity changes nothing. Seizing opportunity and running with it changes lives.

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