The escalating crisis of volatile food prices and food insecurity is the result of an industrial development model based on large-scale, export-orientated agriculture tied to international competition, self interest and stock market speculation. With over a billion people going hungry each day despite a huge surplus of food production, a reorientation towards more localised, smaller scale and sustainable agriculture is urgently required.
Access to quality seed is essential for food security, but smallholders have good reason to be wary of seed aid. Farmers may become dependent on patented, commercial varieties that undermine local seed systems, explains Danielle Nierenberg.
Speculation on agricultural commodities by banks and hedge funds is primarily responsible for spikes in food prices. Strong national and global civil society campaigns are needed to ensure governments take coordinated action to rein in this dangerous activity, writes Tim Jones.
While the 2007-08 food crisis revealed inherent instabilities in the global food system, the world is no better prepared today now that prices are on the rise again. Until policymakers prioritise small-scale, sustainable agriculture, the poorest will remain vulnerable, says Frederic Mousseau.
Governments are being told that “Synthetic Biology” will make and transform all the biomass we will ever need to replace fossil fuels. But the companies that say “trust us” are the same corporate giants that created the climate and food crises in the first place, says a report by The ETC Group.
The crisis of world hunger is set to deepen as livelihood resources such as land and water continue to be transferred away from smallholder farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk, and forest users, says a series of briefing papers by the Land Research Action Network.
Excessive volatility in agricultural commodity markets cannot be resolved through food reserves alone, but they can act as a powerful tool to protect and promote the right to food. The FAO’s Committee on Food Security should give them the attention they deserve, writes Sophia Murphy.
World Food Day offers an opportunity to discuss the real causes of the persistent food crisis. To address the current problem of price volatility and the longer-term issue of sustainability we need joined up policies and global regulation of the food system. Articles by Olivier De Schutter and Jayati Ghosh.