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.
As the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) holds a special meeting on increasing volatility in
agriculture prices in Rome, governments should consider the
establishment of food reserves to help stabilize the marketplace, according to
the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).
The initial causes of the global food price crisis of 2007/8 related to market fundamentals, but a significant portion of the
increases in price and volatility of essential food commodities can
only be explained by the emergence of a speculative bubble, argues the UN Special Rapporteur on food Olivier De Schutter.
New figures from the UN reveal that the number of hungry people in the world has dropped under the one billion mark. But with 925 million people still hungry, costing poor countries $450 billion a year, does this really reflect progress or good policy?
In the past decade or so, three giant corporations have taken control of close to half of the world’s commercial crop-seed market. Sustainable agriculture depends on the billion small farmers who still save their own seeds – and produce most of the world’s food, writes David Ransom.
Inequity and politics, not food shortages, were at the root of almost all famines in the 20th century. To alleviate hunger, we must reallocate the resources of our world into the hands of people who need them most, write Sharon Astyk and Aaron Newton.
In a food system driven almost exclusively by the market-value of commodities, hunger is largely a result of insufficient income. Agricultural production must be completely rethought to prioritise the nutritional needs of people, particularly those living in poverty, argues Justin Frewen.
A leaked World Bank report has revealed that investors in large-scale foreign land acquisitions are targeting countries with weak laws. The findings confirm long-standing concerns of civil society groups opposing the so-called ‘land-grabs’, say Danielle Nierenberg and Bernard Pollack.