Wednesday, October 24, 2012

World Food Day - Is anybody listening?

October 14 was the annual World Food Day (an annual event I used to help organize). This year the big topic was world food prices.

A recent study showed that some of the poor spend as much as 70% of their income on food. Therefore, even a small increase in prices can affect people severely.

An often overlooked impact of food price increases is nutrition. The more food costs increase, the more people turn to cheap food which often has little nutrition.

I find it interesting is that while the governments in Europe are debating the "Eurocrisis" (more about that in a future post), they are completely ignoring the food price problem, which is a much more important issue.

Indeed, the main reason for the increase in food prices has been speculation on the agricultual markets. Many companies are trading on these markets who have no interests in the products, but are simply making money from buying and selling on the market. In fact, much of what is being done in Europe right now is only encouraging this practice (along with other market-based investment), by placing emphasis on business and investment banking instead of peoples livelihoods. These view is also supported by the IMF and other governments.

For more on agriculture, see my article Agriculture and Environment.