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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 07:51 PM
Original message
Already we have riots, hoarding, panic: the sign of things to come?
Already we have riots, hoarding, panic: the sign of things to come?

By Carl Mortished, World Business Editor


07/03/08 "The Times" -- - The spectre of food shortages is casting a shadow across the globe, causing riots in Africa, consumer protests in Europe and panic in food-importing countries. In a world of increasing affluence, the hoarding of rice and wheat has begun. The President of the Philippines made an unprecedented call last week to the Vietnamese Prime Minister, requesting that he promise to supply a quantity of rice.

The personal appeal by Gloria Arroyo to Nguyen Tan Dung for a guarantee was a highly unusual intervention and highlighted the Philippines dependence on food imports, rice in particular.

This is a wake-up call, said Robert Zeigler, who heads the International Rice Research Institute. We have a crisis brewing in rice supply. Half of the planet depends on rice but stocks are at their lowest since the mid1970s when Bangladesh suffered a terrible famine. Rice production will fall this year below the global consumption level of 430 million tonnes.

Street protests and rioting in West Africa towards the end of last year were a harbinger of bigger problems, the World Food Programme said. The global information and early warning system of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has monitored outbreaks of rioting in Mexico, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Guinea, Mauritania and Senegal. There have also been protests in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, over government price increases.Population pressure and increased wealth are mainly to blame for the resurgence of food insecurity. More people are eating meat and dairy products in Asia, which increases the demand on the animal-feed industry. Milk powder prices rose from $2,000 to $4,800 per tonne last year as rising consumption of milk products in Asia coincided with shortages in the Western world. Drought in Australia has worsened the problem as have government policies in Europe and America to increase the use of biofuels.

more...

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19482.h...
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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 07:56 PM
Response to Original message
1. Wow. I think I need a glass of wine (or some antidepressants) after reading that one....
:scared:

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0007 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:00 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Think I'll have a shot of heroin. (Just Kidding) I don't want
Agent Mike on my sorry ass.
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Joe Bacon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 01:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
51. But, but, but, but Jesus is coming in a week or 2
My family is eager to see MORE riots, MORE shortages and MORE discord because they're still stupid enough to believe that JC and his Sonshine Band are gonna swoop over and pick em up in the Rapture in a week or 2.

I remind them that JC remembers all too well how he was treated the first time he was here and he isn't interested in an encore.
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melody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 07:57 PM
Response to Original message
2. Bringing us a new world order, to the rescue n/t
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provis99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:04 PM
Response to Original message
4. theres plenty of productive farmland in Africa that isn't being used
There's enough farmland there that it could feed the entire world, even if there wasn't any farming on any other continent. The problem is that the World Bank and IMF require African countries to plant cash crops like cotton rather than food crops, in order to secure loans. The IMF and World Bank would rather see mass starvation so that a few elites can make oodles of money on cash crops.
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ben_meyers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:11 PM
Response to Reply #4
9. Why isn't it being used then?
Does the IMF and World Bank tell someone not to use it?
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 10:30 PM
Response to Reply #9
21. Because much of it is owned by the rich, including non- africans,
& used for global cash market crops, grazing, etc. instead of to feed its own people.

Similar to Ireland when sheep were raised for England's wool market while Irish peasants starved.


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ben_meyers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 11:05 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. Then it is being used, just not for the right purposed,
I took the post to mean that the land was laying fallow. Didn't one of the governments take the land from the rich Europeans and give it back to the native people? How did that work out?
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 12:14 AM
Response to Reply #22
28. No, they didn't, & yes, some is lying fallow.
Some is held in great estates by elite families. Some is private game reserves. Some is held for mining or oil concessions. Some is "holiday homes" for foreigners. In Zimbabwe, 4000 white families own more land than the entire black population. In Kenya, the Kenyatta family owns the equivalent of an entire province.

Much of Africa has a population density similar to, or lower, than the US.

Africa isn't "overpopulated," it can easily feed itself.

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lynnertic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:25 PM
Response to Reply #4
11. Farmers HERE IN AMERICA have to plant cash crops in order to get subsidies
Edited on Sat Mar-08-08 08:26 PM by lynnertic
See this March 1 piece in the New York Times
"Forbidden Fruits (and Vegetables)"
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/01/opinion/01hedin.html?...

Last year, knowing that my own 100 acres wouldnt be enough to meet demand, I rented 25 acres on two nearby corn farms. I plowed under the alfalfa hay that was established there, and planted watermelons, tomatoes and vegetables for natural-food stores and a community-supported agriculture program.

All went well until early July. Thats when the two landowners discovered that there was a problem with the local office of the Farm Service Administration, the Agriculture Department branch that runs the commodity farm program, and it was going to be expensive to fix.

The commodity farm program effectively forbids farmers who usually grow corn or the other four federally subsidized commodity crops (soybeans, rice, wheat and cotton) from trying fruit and vegetables. Because my watermelons and tomatoes had been planted on corn base acres, the Farm Service said, my landlords were out of compliance with the commodity program.

Ive discovered that typically, a farmer who grows the forbidden fruits and vegetables on corn acreage not only has to give up his subsidy for the year on that acreage, he is also penalized the market value of the illicit crop, and runs the risk that those acres will be permanently ineligible for any subsidies in the future. (The penalties apply only to fruits and vegetables if the farmer decides to grow another commodity crop, or even nothing at all, theres no problem.)

In my case, that meant I paid my landlords $8,771 for one season alone! And this was in a year when the high price of grain meant that only one of the governments three crop-support programs was in effect; the total bill might be much worse in the future.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 09:59 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. He didn't get a corn subsidy - because he didn't grown corn.
Duh. That article is just dumb.
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lynnertic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 09:13 AM
Response to Reply #15
43. Hannah, his landlord didn't get the subsidy and was furthermore penalized the income from the water-
melons.

Read much?

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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 10:53 AM
Response to Reply #4
44. This is correct -- but the reasons are complicated and varied
Historically, the biggest problems in West Africa have involved pricing of locally grown crops. First, the independent governments continued a bad British policy of controllying all crop "marketing." In other words, farmers sold their crops to quasi governmental "crop marketing boards" which in turn sold the crops for export or to the public. The government typically gave the farmers lower prices than they received and kept the difference as a kind of tax revenue. After independence, governments widened the difference and drove many, many farmers out of business -- and the agricultural sectors only began recovering in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, African governments swallowed free trade dogma and opened their markets to agricultural imports. In much of West Africa, "Uncle Ben's" and other subsidized American rice is cheaper, more "fashionable" and less healthy than local, brown African "country rice," and that has put local farmers out of business.

Local farmers' families then stream to the slums of the city for work (which isn't there) and then ironically riot over food prices.

In southern Africa, the problem is the remaining white farmers who own gigantic estates and keep land out of the hands of black farmers. In Zimbabwe before the economy collapsed, black farmers had started producing more food than white farmers even though white farmers controlled the best land. That's why Mugabe, despite being a disaster, has some popularity. There really still is a problem of white farmers controlling the land, and that conflict has plummeted the country into catastrophe.

One more factor about African hunger that is rarely talked about -- nutritional education. There was a fascinating article about Kenya in the Times some years ago where despite the fact that large scale black farmers control too much land, there are millions of successful small scale black farmers. The article found that many malnourished children went to bed with full stomachs. It's that their families cooked a monotonous diet of what they grew -- corn and beans.

This doesn't mean they are "stupid," when you consider this country had the same problem in the south for decades -- people eating a monotonous, non-nutritious diet of cornmeal/corn bread, ham/bacon and molasses.

A little education of mothers/cooks goes a long way.
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Olney Blue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:05 PM
Response to Original message
5. This is frightening. Food and safe water should be the priority of every
government. Sadly, it is not.
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:06 PM
Response to Original message
6. Dairy consumption in Asia? Do they engineer the cows to produce milk laced with lactaid?!
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Stinky The Clown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:06 PM
Response to Original message
7. Overpopulation
Whatever happened to the concept of ZPG?
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:06 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. 300 million in the US; don't blame us.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 10:26 PM
Response to Reply #8
20. Unfortunately, americans consume 1/4 of world resources.
So you might say it's the MOST overpopulated country.
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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:26 PM
Response to Reply #7
12. Don't look at me, Stinky, lol! I'm doin' MY part (my cats are my kids).
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 09:44 PM
Response to Reply #7
14. I would gladly hand over a lot of Blame to the Catholic Church
One billion people living south of our southern border - and many are devoted Cathlics, relying on "God" to help feed themselves in the coming famines.
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WHEN CRABS ROAR Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:12 PM
Response to Original message
10. You probably don't want to know about the condition of the
oceans then, they are being depleted at a very fast rate.
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Double T Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:32 PM
Response to Original message
13. Silly humans. Can't overpopulate the planet with 3 or 4 times it's carrying capacity...........
Edited on Sat Mar-08-08 08:33 PM by Double T
and EXPECT a different outcome.
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texshelters Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 10:12 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. What, there's a limit?
Don't tell economists at the Chicago school. Their livelihood depends on the myth of unlimited growth and expansion of markets.

Really, I am happier and happier that I didn't have a child.

We don't need any more in the US.

Tex
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 12:02 AM
Response to Reply #13
27. The US consumes 1/4 to 1/3 of the world's resources.
This year's rice crop was a record.

There's no food shortage except the shortage created by speculation.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 12:44 AM
Response to Reply #27
31. Well, food shortages are being created by more than just speculation.
For example there are also caused by logistical problems (i.e. we can't get the food where it needs to go in the quantities required and time available), political problems with corruption on the part of both providers and recipients, and the issues of crops being planted for animal feed instead of direct human food, and some arbitrage with biofuels. World food prices are also being driven up by transportation costs ($105/bbl oil) and fertilizer prices rising due to regional natural gas depletion.

To say the food problems are just being driven by speculation is to ignore a whole host of other factors that are at least as important, and probably more so.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 01:15 AM
Response to Reply #31
34. There was a RECORD rice harvest this year. n/t
Edited on Sun Mar-09-08 01:17 AM by Hannah Bell
If you start looking at commodities boards you'll find there's no logical explanation for the sudden conjunction of double-digit price increases in EVERY category of commodity except speculative activity by hedge funds & similar actors.

There are no "shortages" per se. There are price increases that put the cost of food out of reach of some people & force others to pay a premium.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 01:41 AM
Response to Reply #34
35. more data....
Edited on Sun Mar-09-08 01:45 AM by Hannah Bell
http://www.agweekly.com/articles/2008/03/01/news/market...

Just one data point: "Rogue" (ha) trader for mf global loses 150 million on wheat trades.

it's a hedge fund.

Here's another fund with commodity losses: Philadelphia alternative asset mgt.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-thu-mf-globa...


nymex/comex trades up 400% since 2001.
Did world demand go up 400% to increase trades so much?

No. It's traders driving prices. Enron revisted.

http://www.nymex.com/md_annual_volume2.aspx
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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-11-08 11:47 AM
Response to Reply #13
57. Silly humans. Can't consume so much in industrialized countries
and expect a different outcome.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 10:08 PM
Response to Original message
16. It's irresponsible fear-mongering. Do you think it's just
coincidence that EVERY commodity is suddenly jumping in price in the wake of the global real estate meltdown?

SPECULATION. SPECULATION.

Not overpopulation, not crop failures, not biofuels, not China.

SPECULATION. In oil, metals, & food. Massive financial speculation, which kills people so that other people can make more money.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 10:13 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. Commodity speculation driving up prices of Indian agro products
http://www.business24-7.ae/cs/article_show_mainh1_story...

Global investment funds growing appetite for agrocommodities, commercial crops and spices produced by India are raising fears of possible food shortages, traders said yesterday.

A senior official from the Spices Board of India said the Indian Government banned rice exports after global funds invested heavily in a rice futures contract briefly introduced by the Multi Commodity Exchange of India, Indias largest commodity market. India also imposed a minimum price of $550 (Dh2,000) Free on Board (before shipment) per tonne of exported rice to control domestic prices and ensure food security.


From the same vultures who brought you the subprime meltdown.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 10:22 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Prices for rice, Asias essential food, skyrocketing
Prices for rice, Asias essential food, skyrocketing



Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) Soaring rice prices are creating serious problems for 2.5 billion people... Experts expect rises throughout 2008, partly as a result of SPECULATION BY PRODUCING COUNTRIES.

Rice in the United States, the world's fourth largest exporter of the grain, rose yesterday to a record US$ 400 per metric tonne, up about 75 per cent in the past year.

In spite of a RECORD CROP of about 420 metric tonnes in the current season, global rice supplies are lagging behind demand, which is 423 metric tonnes, an increase due to higher demand in the Middle East and Africa, itself CAUSED BY HIGHER PRICES FOR OTHER FOOD commodities.

What is more, governments are not only ALLOWING LAND TO BE TAKEN OUT OF PROUCTION but are also ABANDONING SUBSIDIES without which many farmers are condemned to an existence of poverty and are more exposed to the vagaries of weather-related disasters.


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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 11:09 PM
Response to Original message
23. There isn't much time left, and the problem is snowballing
Edited on Sat Mar-08-08 11:24 PM by GliderGuider
I've just completed an analysis of the African food security situation out to 2040, and frankly it's beyond horrifying. If my assessment is even close to being correct (and reviewers have said my assumptions are actually conservative) Africa stands to lose over half its present population of 900+ million in the next 30 years, due to food shortages caused by a malignant convergence of climate change, oil depletion, HIV/AIDS, water shortages, investment and foreign aid shortfalls, rising transportation costs and soaring world fertilizer and food prices.

As that begins to happen, the resulting social breakdown will open up vast windows for warfare and genocide. We will also see another round of Disaster Capitalism play out as transnational corporations line the banks of the Zambezi like vultures, offering calamity-wracked African nations a pittance of relief in return for unhindered access to their remaining natural resources.

From Africa in 2040: The Darkened Continent:



There isn't much time left to bring more African land under the plow, and the resources to do that appear to be either lacking or prohibitively expensive for domestic African budgets. International corporate and political sentiment seems to have written Africa off already, and if the rice situation continues to deteriorate, South Asia will be very close behind. The next four years are crucial for the establishment of new international aid and development policies -- after that the die will be well and truly cast. I hope the new American president is up to the leadership task.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 12:00 AM
Response to Reply #23
26. according to this oecd graph, South africa, for example
consistently EXPORTS more agricultural goods than it IMPORTS - despite the majority of its population being poor & food insecure.

http://books.google.com/books?id=pv2UaIkwUFwC&pg=PA59&l...


Qui bono?

Who gets the benefit of the value of those exports, & who benefits from the doomsday scenario that paints the RICHEST continent on earth as some kind of overpopulated wasteland, despite the fact that large sectors of africa have similar or lower population density as the US?

africa can feed itself quite well given the chance.

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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 12:26 AM
Response to Reply #26
29. "africa can feed itself quite well given the chance."
Edited on Sun Mar-09-08 12:34 AM by GliderGuider
Will they get that chance in the next 5 years? If not, it may be too late for many. Cash cropping is an established part of the economy. How do you change that system in 5 years without massive social disruptions that precipitate the very outcome you're trying to avoid? There are extremely powerful natural, logistical, political and economic impediments that stand in the way of such a program. Just saying there's enough land to make the problem go away doesn't address any of those impediments.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't try and break through those obstacles, but we need to be realistic about the current situation, the time that's left before it becomes unsalvageable, and the resources available. We (or rather they) need to ensure those resources are put to work in the areas where they will do the most good in the shortest possible time. Africa doesn't have a couple of decades left to shift their course.

It may be that non-violent internal, grass-roots revolutions are the only restructuring mechanisms that will be effective under the circumstances. I expect we will see more of those as the African situation deteriorates. Will they stay non-violent? Will they make the right changes? Will they succeed in the face of international vested interests? Lots of "known unknowns" there, even before you factor in the "unknown unknowns" arising from Peak Oil and Climate Change.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 12:40 AM
Response to Reply #29
30. Maybe if the US & other big powers got the hell out
Edited on Sun Mar-09-08 12:47 AM by Hannah Bell
& stopped fighting proxy wars there, that would be a good start.

Analyses that ignore the elephant in the room while talking about the need for "more aid" present a highly skewed picture of the real causes of the problems.

If there is a drop in population in Africa such as your graph presents, IMO it will be the result of deliberate policy, though presented as "food shortage," "disease," etc. to disguise the real root causes. And if people weren't brainwashed with pseudo explanations like "overpopulation" & "food shortage," maybe they'd lobby their OWN governments for real change.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 12:53 AM
Response to Reply #30
32. I certainly don't think "more aid" is the answer. The problem is too big for that.
But realistically, how do you get the major powers to stop fighting proxy wars over there in the next 5 years? Unfortunately, they'll probably increase instead. The big powers want Africa's remaining resources, and Naomi Klein has painted us a very good picture of how they'll use this crisis to get them.

Again, it comes back to time line. Over the long run we should work to strengthen Africa's ability to withstand global military and economic pressures, but that may take 40 years. Unfortunately they have only 5 years, and re-shaping the geopolitical landscape just isn't feasible in that short a time. So as distasteful as it may be from a social justice perspective, I think if we're going to respond to the human crisis we may need to be a bit more expedient.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 01:12 AM
Response to Reply #32
33. I don't mean to be personally antagonistic.
But what you're saying is, we're powerless to stop our government from messing with people. So the best we can do is send more food aid to them. To "respond to the human crisis" our own gov & corps (in concert w/ other powers) are busy creating with their other hand. And in fact the cheap food aid undercuts domestic producers & drives small producers out of business, exacerbating the problem. It helps OUR producers & agribusinesses.

For Africans, if we actually wanted to help, we'd do better to subsidize Africans to produce for & recreate domestic markets.

But we won't, because help isn't the goal.

The same story on the homeless threads: we're powerless to demand/create a real solution: the best we can do is beg for more "services".

I've heard of the need for more charity for 30 years. It's a lie that serves power, & it channels the energy & money & activism of well-meaning people into bandaids.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 08:32 AM
Response to Reply #33
40. Governments have messed with people ever since there have been govenments. It's what they do.
Altruism appears to be in short supply on the world stage right now.

I agree that the most helpful thing we could do would be to (assist, invest in, subsidize) the reconstruction of domestic African markets. Unfortunately much of the big money that was ostensibly intended for that purpose has already pulled out, and as you point out elsewhere much of it had strings attached anyway. We need to work at changing that situation, and sending our governments the message that increasing foreign assistance for that purpose is OK by us.

Unfortunately, I think the economic crisis that is unfolding around us is going to turn into a global depression within a year. If that happens, the pools of capital required to make the long-term difference Africa needs may run dry. As a consequence, the growing risk-aversion of the people with the remaining money is going to make them very reluctant to assist failing nations in what they already perceive as a continent that provides very low return on investment, unless they get substantial resource concessions in return. I think that's an inhuman way to see the world, but as I said above, altruism seems to be in short supply right now.

What really stunned me when I did my analysis was how close the crisis is and how much work it's going to take to keep it from snowballing. I'm not a foreign policy wonk, so I have no real suggestions about what might prevent things from running away. But I do know that if we focus on changing the world, as laudable as that goal is, and do nothing to alter the course of human events already underway, we risk having large portions of the third world tumble headlong into chaos and tragedy before our very eyes.
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eilen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 06:35 AM
Response to Reply #29
38. I think it is difficult
to look at Africa as a whole, the various nations within that continent have different dynamics. For example Zimbabwe, Mugabe's policies contributed directly to the decrease in food production and ability to feed its population. Interference in African nations is not limited to the United States, European countries have a long legacy of colonialism. This is what has weakened those nations as many have not had long periods of stable government without the weight of international debt. The US is not the root of "all" evil in Africa and the Middle East, some but not all. The article linked to in the OP had so many mean spirited comments. I wonder at the anger and glee at the concept of economic breakdown.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 04:18 AM
Response to Reply #26
36. "To understand Darfur, understand where the World Food Program gets its relief foods,
who sells these and who buys them, and how the foods are used. Archers Daniels Midland sells grain into the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust, while companies like ADM and Cargill receive massive government subsidies paid by American tax dollars, and the tax dollars back up the WFP and USAID, and provide the funds from which to purchase the "food"...

Critics have been quick to note that while the Bush and Clinton Administrations claimed that their offer of food aid to Africa is motivated by altruism, the USAID website is a little more candid. It states:

"The principal beneficiary of America's foreign assistance programs has always been the United States. Close to 80% of the USAID contracts and grants go directly to American firms. Foreign assistance programs have helped create major markets for agricultural goods, created new markets for American industrial exports and meant hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans."

But this is not the appropriate behavior of humanitarians. It is the behavior of pigs at a trough and it applies to the entire misery industry. Save the Children? Which children? And save them from whom? What about Save the Childrens partnerships with Exxon-Mobil? Or CAREs partnerships with Lockheed Martin?"

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=4...
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dixiegrrrrl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 06:28 AM
Response to Reply #36
37. They are also the companies
which are forcing other countries to plant/buy GMO Franken foods and seeds, and in fact attempting to "own" the rights to seed.
ADM and Montsano and Cargill have caused more death and suffering than any of Bush's wards to date.
There's gotta be an evil gene in some folks who need to own the entire world.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 08:48 AM
Response to Reply #37
42. I agree completely.
There is an explicit intention on the part of half a dozen trans-national agribusinesses to control the entire world's food supply. I don't think they'll make it because things are about to fall apart before they can complete their consolidation, but they have already done enormous damage to the food sovereignty of many nations.
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psychmommy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 08:26 AM
Response to Reply #23
39. is this a form of genocide?
are we killing africa and south east asia next? where is our humanity?
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 08:45 AM
Response to Reply #39
41. I'm undecided on that.
It's true that Western policies have selectively damaged Africa and South Asia more than other regions of the globe.

On the other hand, my demographer/ecologist instincts tell me that in any sufficiently large, diverse, widely distributed, dynamic population (as humanity surely is) such inequities are virtually inevitable and are very hard to control. This is especially true when you consider the nature of the institutions we have developed as the framework for our civilization -- particularly our economic and political systems. From that perspective these problems can be seen as evidence that we are simply another natural species that has outstripped our environment's carrying capacity, and the vulnerable members of the community are paying the price first.

While that may sound like a fatalistic perspective, I don't see it that way. Rather, I believe it's important to have a clear and complete understanding of what's going on, in order that we can use whatever levers our reason gives us to make the right decisions. And I think that it has never before in human history been more urgent that we make the right decisions.
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psychmommy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 12:59 PM
Response to Reply #41
49. ok, i understand where you are coming from.
but is it the africans and southeast asians that have outstripped their environments carrying capacity or corporate and/or outside gov't marauders that are sucking the life out of these places. not even counting the global warming and insurmountable debt being wracked up so people can eat and have clean water.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 01:26 PM
Response to Reply #49
50. From the perspective of a 50 year window on civilization it doesn't matter that much.
Edited on Sun Mar-09-08 01:26 PM by GliderGuider
Their populations are increasing, our consumption is increasing, the political and economic systems that we have developed over the last three hundred years are keeping the rules firmly in place just as we built them to do, and everybody is going down the toilet in different ways at about the same time.

My preferred course of action is to promote a fragmentation within as many societies as possible to create a planet-wide set of smaller, more sustainable communities that embody the values of cooperation, consensus and respect for the web of life. I hope that if we create enough such small communities (that have been the norm for the last couple of hundred thousand years of our existence, btw) that they will help in two ways: they will act as antibodies to our planetary dis-ease right now, and that some of them will carry forward the seeds of a new civilization based on truly sustainable principles.

The institutions, structures and civilization that we have to work with right now just aren't workable as far as I can tell.

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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 11:07 AM
Response to Reply #23
46. Your paper has a lot of ... uuhhhh .... problems
Let's just say it is not a very accurate picture of what is going on in Africa and what the prospects are.

A line by line refutation would consume too much of this beautiful Sunday afternoon.

But the biggest problem is the complete and utter lack of economic feedbacks in your analysis.

Let's put it this way: when the price of wheat goes up, people don't sit dumbly and starve. They eat maize.

That simple insight -- dynamic feedback in economic models -- could profitably be applied about a hundred times to your article.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 11:44 AM
Response to Reply #46
47. I'm not going to argue with you, the paper is intended to be a scenario, not a prediction
You and I have polar opposite world views on most issues, so it doesn't surprise me that you object.

However, IMO anyone who thinks that Africa will be able to avoid major hard times over the next few years just by tweaking the source of their calories is arguing based on hopes and wishes rather than any realistic assessment of the current trends.
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-10-08 10:20 AM
Response to Reply #47
54. I don't think so
That is, I don't think our views are polar opposites. I think that basically we are on the same side. I've worked for environmental conservation in third world countries, including China, so I am well aware that there are places where the resources are dangerously close to truly being "used up."

I also think that we are in danger of globalizing that condition.

I do think, however, we use different theoretical models. Although I'm not a free marketeer, I do think that markets tend to reallocate resources in a way that static analysis can't predict.

For example, last summer, I cut my energy use by about 80% and this winter by about 30%. You know how? I decided to recognize that in the summer it is hot and in the winter it is cool. So last summer I decided not to turn on air conditioning unless it was in the high 80s and this winter I decided to wear long underwear and sweaters. The shocker was that I was pretty much as comfortable as I'd always been.

Long before we "run out of" oil, people will stop driving 15 miles to buy a gallon of milk, teenagers will not circle the mall mindlessly in their parents' suvs, and families will not try to keep their homes 65 degrees in summer and 80 degrees in winter.

There are vast efficiencies to be realized in all our systems, which currently are mind-bogglingly inefficient.

In Africa, long before mass starvation kicks in, they will exclude petroleum based, subsidized American rice and corn which has put their own farmers out of business from their markets, and grow local crops. To believe otherwise is to believe that people are much more stupid than they are. Everywhere I have worked and travelled -- in Africa and China -- I have been amazed at how much people understand their own predicaments and exactly what needs to be done.

Political will and corruption are obstacles, but people are not so stupid or passive that they will lay down and die before overcoming those obstacles.
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Fovea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 11:18 PM
Response to Original message
24. Economy in the time of the plague
The price of luxuries fell, and food rose.
Labor went through the roof. But a lot of previously used land fell into disuse and ruin
as 1/3rd of Europe died.

Thus wealth was destroyed.

So it will happen again, the 21st century will be a time of famine, warfare, disease, and disaster. When the shit hits the fan, let us all remember who brought us here. And let us pledge to recover more gracefully this time.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 11:38 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. who brought us here? n/t
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Fovea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 06:54 PM
Response to Reply #25
53. The Republican trimvirate
Edited on Sun Mar-09-08 06:56 PM by realpolitik
Of OldSkool Imperialists, "Free Market" Monopolists Gamers and Oligarchs, and the backwardly xenophobic dead-end-timers.

The core memes of each group are abhorrent to each other to a great degree lately. Only their fear, greed, and hatred united them. And their unity is evaporating with the collapse of their collective criminal enterprise.

One strategy is to allow a McCain executive victory and thwart him in congress.
That is the passive agressive way to neuter conservatism of all stripes for a generation.

The honest way is to put them in prison for twenty or so years for their actual crimes. Confiscate all profits and assets and thereby get not simply a repudiation of conservatism, but an actual hole in the center of the movement that might be generations healing over.

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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 10:57 AM
Response to Original message
45. There's a huge contradiction in this article that suggests fear mongering
On the one hand, it paints a picture of increasing scarcity -- people to poor to purchase food, and hence food riots.

On the other hand, it says that the problem is because as people's incomes grow they want more meat and hence more grain is diverted to animal feed.

How can people be both too poor to buy food, and so rich that their demand for meat is driving up food prices?

In other words, the real issue isn't scarcity -- it's income inequality.

The new middle classes of Asia are literally bidding the grain out of the mouths of the poor to feed to the animals that they are increasingly eating.

It's a much more complicated story than just scarcity.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 11:48 AM
Response to Reply #45
48. By "fear mongering" are you suggesting that what they're saying isn't true?
Edited on Sun Mar-09-08 12:18 PM by GliderGuider
Or perhaps that the situation, while true, is readily amenable to simple solutions that the authors and the FAO are ignoring or discounting?

Or are you just saying, "Don't worry, be happy"?
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crimsonblue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 04:50 PM
Response to Original message
52. I can't believe this
Here in Kansas, there is wheat and other grain that just sits on the bare ground, waiting to rot because we don't have anymore room in the grain elevators. In order to survive, farmers have banded into Co-ops that end up robbing them of fair market price and limit the amount that farmers can sell. It seems inevitable now that we are headed for the Great Recession, or worse. The US used to lead the world in farming and agriculture, but not we import rice and wheat from China and let our own stock just rot.. I for one, am NOT proud to be an American anymore.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-10-08 08:27 PM
Response to Reply #52
55. Interesting observation.
I, for one, would like to hear more about it, if you're still there.
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Porfirio Donating Member (4 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-10-08 10:11 PM
Response to Original message
56. It's getting ugly
We need a friendlier foreign policy to avoid this mess.
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liberal4truth Donating Member (309 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-04-08 05:43 AM
Response to Original message
58. Answer: " Soylent Green". The signs were all there over 30 years ago now!
Forgive my English, but we are f**ked!
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liberal4truth Donating Member (309 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-04-08 05:45 AM
Response to Original message
59. You hain't seen nuthin yet. Its gonna get worse. Lots worse !
Humans: a cancer on the planet, soon to be disposed of.
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