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The Food Crisis and Global Politics

May 7, 2008

While the United States has been frolicking with election antics and high gas prices, much of the third-world is battling the high price of food and inflationary economic pressures that are putting pressure on governmental stability in countries around the world.

The United Nations has wisely planned to establish a task force to tackle the global food crisis in order to avoid “social unrest on an unprecedented scale.” The United Nations first priority has been to establish funding the need since the funds are not available. George Bush has been seeking to secure funding for $775 million through Congress for the need in addition to $225 million in U.S. aid that has been provided recently. Regardless of finances, the U.S. government remains committed to assisting the U.N. as the need is immediate and time is of the essence.

Food crisis events have been sparking around the world as people become upset over the lack of food or the ability to buy what is needed to survive. Skyrocketing costs for food staples, flared by rising fuel prices and increased use of food for biofuels along with increased demand from India and China, bad weather and a recent earthquake, has already sparked protests, in some cases with violence in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. Market pricing and speculation are also being blamed.

Some scientific authorities have claimed that stopping the use of food-based biofuels would cut corn prices by 20 percent. Disagreement in actual figures ranges from 15 to 30 percent, depending on the source of information. President Bush is calling for the opposite approach, declaring that the United States should increase ethanol use for national security and the stabilization of gas prices. “The truth of the matter is, it’s in our national interest that our farmers grow energy, as opposed to us purchasing energy from parts of the world that are unstable or may not like us,” Bush declared.

The International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington claims that projects should be operated using non-grain products like switchgrass to create biofuels. How much switchgrass could be used to create biofuels has not been detailed in a realistic manner.

While making certain that farmers are properly educated and outfitted to grow the food that they are farming is of great importance, global hunger tsunamis threaten the fabric of society of some areas. Angry street protesters call for immediate action. Long-term solutions are likely to be slow, costly and complicated based on the testimony of experts. This testimony sounds like excuse-mongering, since creating a reasonable plan of approach as a goal is the first step to resolve or lessen any problem. Solutions should involve planting more crops in suffering nations and educating people on feeding themselves.

The marketing clamor for biofuels that we’ve heard in the last few years has not proved to be the panacea that some environmentalists and leaders had hoped for. Genetically-modified crops could be part of the answer, but better irrigation and farming practices are more likely to yield better and faster results. Lack of investment in self-supporting agriculture is probably the largest problem that the world faces. Continuing to feed many millions with a food supply that is under increasing pressure will bear only short-term temporary results. Ultimately, investment in effective agriculture, proper training and improved transportation for market access is needed. Remarkably, this need has not been addressed in the past in a significant way. Poverty and agricultural capabilities seem to be clearly linked, but few have seen the connection until recently.

More interesting, the global marketing plan now announces that production of biofuel leads to the destruction of forests and takes up land available to grow crops for food. It would seem that the focus continually changes, almost as if the world community is chasing a rainbow.

The common line goes something like this: “Citizens in the West, China and India must realize that the meat on their plate and biofuels in their expensive cars carry a cost for those in the developing world.” This attitude is the reverse of constructive thinking. Instead of creating emphasis on lowering global livings standards, the world would be much better off with the mindset of lifting up self-sustaining global living standards while considering and working with environmental concerns. This is far preferable and much more reasonable than lowering the world to a like-standard of poverty. The continual drum-beating of lowering living standards globally simply expands the realm between the “haves” and “have-nots” while fostering dependence on more aid. The results show that the emergency approach without a master plan is more likely a political tool rather than a philosophy of concern and generosity. What do you think?

E. Manning

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One Comment leave one →
  1. spammer permalink
    May 7, 2008 5:09 pm

    What can I say? One man’s spam is one man’s gold!

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