Monday, June 21, 2010

The Starvation Trade, a Crime Against Humanity

Looking for the next "crime against humanity"? Why not make it food commodity speculation? Why? Because it's mass murder, that's why. The usual suspects (can you say "gold-man-sachs"?) are gaming global grain productionl. It's a dandy source of speculation wealth. After all, everyone needs to eat, even if they can't afford to eat. This year in drought-stricken West Africa there are upwards of 10-million facing starvation as they look on a shelves stocked with food they cannot afford to buy. From The Guardian:

Starving people in drought-stricken west Africa are being forced to eat leaves and collect grain from ant hills, say aid agencies, warning that 10 million people face starvation across the region.

With food prices soaring and malnourished livestock dying, villagers were turning to any sources of food to stay alive, said Charles Bambara, Oxfam officer for the west African region.
"People are eating wild fruit and leaves, and building ant hills just to capture the tiny amount of grain that the ants collect inside."

..."Niger is at crisis point now and we need to act quickly before this crisis becomes a full-blown humanitarian disaster," said Caroline Gluck, an Oxfam representative in the country.
With food prices spiralling, people are being forced to slaughter malnourished livestock, traditionally the only form of income.

"When you walk through the markets, you can see that there is food here. The problem is that the ability to buy it has disappeared. People here depend on livestock to support themselves, but animals are being killed on the edge of exhaustion, and that means they are being sold for far less money. And on top of that, the cost of food basics has risen," explained Gluck.

Compounding the crisis, thousands of animals have starved to death as villagers use animal fodder to feed themselves.

The early onset of mass famine has aid workers fearing this year will be similar to the 1984 Ethiopia famine where a million died. If you want to learn more about the devastating effects of grain speculation, read The Food Bubbles, How Wall Street Starved Millions and Got Away With It by Frederick Kaufman in the July edition of Harper's magazine.

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