Friday, May 2, 2008

food crisis and free markets

Scary. Transnational corporate agribusiness has managed to create a global food crisis. Readers of Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine will be unsurprised at how Cargill, Monsanto, etc. are profiting from the crisis (not unlike how oil companies are reaping windfall profits) -- thus offering little financial incentive to stave of the "social uprisings" that rightly make the World Bank and WTO anxious. NGO Food First offers prescient analysis of the situation by explaining how market deregulation links the causes mainstream media outlets mention (i.e. biofuels and rising meat demand in developing nations). The UN is looking for ways to involve these transnational stakeholders in solutions. Indian activist Vandana Shiva anticipates the likely reluctance of governments to intervene in problems that free market policies create and points to sustainable solutions:

There is a very short term solution – give up the industrial agriculture using fossil fuels, high cost imports. Give up the forced linking with an international commodity market. Allow farmers to grow and give them a just price. We can solve the problem tomorrow. I work with 400,000 farmers in India growing organic food. We have doubled yields and doubled output on farms. Nobody is dying of starvation in the villages where there is organic farming. [...]

The Third World does not need charity; the Third World needs food sovereignty. It needs freedom to produce it own food. Let's just recognise the ecological endowments – it is Africa and Asia that have the best soils, the best sun, the best biodiversity. [...] I'd like to just mention: free trade is not free. Every one of the problems we have … have been triggered by government policy. Globalisation is government policy. Trade liberalisation is government policy. Biofuels is government policy. [...] If the governments have caused the problem, they cannot now throw up their hands and say that they cannot intervene. They have created the price rise, they need to intervene in creating a fair market for famers and ensure the rights of all.

1 comment:

r said...

Sounds like our secretary of ag is unlikely heed Shiva's warnings: