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Crisis In Food Prices Threatens Worldwide Starvation - Is it Genocide?

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com http://www.rense.com/general81/crisis.htm
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 28, 2008
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Thanks,
      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist
      http://www.konformist.com

      http://www.rense.com/general81/crisis.htm

      Crisis In Food Prices Threatens Worldwide Starvation - Is it
      Genocide?
      By Richard C. Cook
      4-24-8

      Rising worldwide food prices are resulting in shortages, riots and
      protests, promises by governments to expand food aid, expressions of
      concern by international bodies like the World Bank, and stress on
      household budgets even in developed countries like the U.S. Did this
      just "happen" or is there a plan?

      Plenty of commentators think they have it figured out and blame such
      factors as greater demand for high-end protein menus by the
      increasingly upscale populations of China and India , weather
      factors relating to global warming such as drought in Australia ,
      and the diversion of animal feed crops such as corn and soybeans to
      ethanol production. L.H. Teslik of the Council on Foreign Relations
      speaks of "bubbling inflation and rising oil prices."

      There is also the question of whether a role is being played by
      commodity speculation. The idea is that faced with the global
      financial crisis and the collapse of mortgage-based securities,
      investors are flocking to resource-based tangibles as a hedge
      against recession and the decline of the U.S. dollar. Hence gold is
      at record levels with oil keeping the same pace. How else to
      explain, for instance, the doubling of the price of rice in Asian
      markets in less than two months? Standard Chartered Bank food
      commodities analyst Abah Ofon says, "Fund money flowing into
      agriculture has boosted prices. It's fashionable. This is the year
      of agricultural commodities."

      But the idea that speculation is at fault is disputed by no less
      than New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, one of the world's
      leading monetary economists, who writes:

      "My problem with the speculative stories is that they all depend on
      something that holds production - or at least potential production -
      off the market. The key point is that the spot price equalizes the
      demand and supply of a commodity; speculation can drive up the
      futures price, but the spot price will only follow if the higher
      futures prices somehow reduce the quantity available for final
      consumers. The usual channel for this is an increase in inventories,
      as investors hoard the stuff in expectation of a higher price down
      the road. If this doesn't happen - if the spot price doesn't follow
      the futures price - then futures will presumably come down, as it
      turns out that buying futures produces losses."

      Solid data in this area is hard to come by. Probably the chief
      common denominator among commentators, especially those advocating a
      supply and demand or global warming perspective, is that they have
      so little solid information. Thus it is refreshing to find a study
      that contains meaningful statistics such as one appearing on the
      Executive Intelligence Report website entitled, "To Defeat Famine:
      Kill the WTO" by Marcia Merry Baker. One particularly telling item
      is that after global food supplies were boosted through the Green
      Revolution and related programs lasting into the 1970s, more
      recently, world food production has actually declined.

      Baker writes, "World per-capita output of grains of all kinds (rice,
      wheat, corn, and others) has been falling for twenty years. Whereas
      in 1986 it was 338 kilograms per person, it went down to 303 by
      2006. This decline in no way has been made up for by increasing
      amounts of other staple foodstuffs-tubers, legumes, or oil crops,
      which likewise are in insufficient supply."

      Further, "In twelve of the last twenty years, less grain has been
      produced than utilized that year (for all purposes-direct human
      consumption, livestock feed, industrial and energy uses, and
      reserves). Accordingly, the amount of carryover stocks of grain from
      year to year has been declining to extreme danger levels. The
      diversion of food crops into biofuels is the nail in the coffin. The
      latest estimate is that worldwide stockpiles of cereal crops of all
      kinds are expected to fall to a twenty-five-year low of 405 million
      tons in 2008. That is down twenty-one million tons, or five percent,
      from their already reduced level in 2007."

      Further, an increasing proportion of food crops is being produced by
      large multinational corporations whose power and reach has ballooned
      under the World Trade Organization and spin-offs like NAFTA even as
      small family-run farms have lost the protection of parity pricing
      and been priced out of business. But the data suggest that a) the
      output of agribusiness has failed to match the older, more
      diversified systems of farming; and b) as nations lose their ability
      to feed themselves, agricultural pricing becomes more subject to
      monopolization.

      The loss of agricultural self-sufficiency has been exacerbated in
      much of the developing world by International Monetary Fund lending
      policies. Under the " Washington consensus," entire nations have
      been forced to give up agricultural self-sufficiency and convert
      farmland to export commodities while displaced rural populations
      migrate to the slums of large cities such as Lagos , Nigeria . Today
      those populations are the ones most grievously threatened with
      starvation.

      Then what is really going on?

      First of all, let's get rid of the idea that we are
      seeing "impersonal market forces" at work. "Supply and demand" is
      not a "law"-it's a policy. If a seller has an article in demand it's
      a matter of choice whether he charges a premium when he offers it
      for sale. If he's a decent, honest soul, maybe he won't necessarily
      charge all the market will bear, particularly if the item is a
      necessity of life, such as food. Or maybe there will be a
      responsible public authority around that will prohibit price gouging
      or else subsidize the purchaser, as often happens in credit markets.
      Of course public spirited action like this is itself a declining
      commodity in a world afflicted with the kind of market
      fundamentalism and rampant privatization that has been the rage
      since the 1980s Reagan Revolution.

      Second, let's ask the question which any competent investigator
      should pose when starting out on the trail of a possible crime: "Who
      benefits?" Indeed we may be speaking of a crime on the scale of
      genocide if the events in question are a) avoidable; in which case
      the crime is one of negligent homicide; or b) planned, where we
      obviously have a conspiracy among the contributing parties.

      Those who benefit are obviously the ones who finance agricultural
      operations, those who are charging monopoly prices for the
      commodities in demand, the various middlemen who bring the products
      to market after they leave the farm, and the owners or mortgagees of
      the land, retail space, and other assets required to conduct the
      production/consumption cycle.

      In other words, it's the financial elite of the world who have
      gained complete control of the most basic necessity of life. This
      includes not only the international financiers who provide
      capitalization, including the leveraging of trading in commodity
      futures up to the 97 percent level, but even organized crime groups
      which the U.S. Department of Justice says have penetrated world
      materials markets.

      And is all this part of a long-term strategy by international
      finance to starve much of the world's population in order to seize
      their land, control their natural resources, and enslave the rest
      who fear a similar fate? Already millions of people are losing their
      homes to housing inflation and foreclosure. Is actual or threatened
      physical starvation the next part of the scenario?

      And where are the governmental authorities whose job it is to
      protect the public welfare both at the national and international
      levels? These authorities long ago allowed a situation to develop,
      including in developed nations like the U.S., where people in
      localities no longer have the simple ability to feed themselves,
      even in emergencies. And not one of the candidates remaining in the
      U.S. presidential election-John McCain, Hillary Clinton, nor Barack
      Obama-has addressed the food pricing issue. Indeed, all three are
      part of a government that has gone so far as to exclude much of the
      rising cost of food from measurements of inflation, an innovation
      that took place on Bill Clinton's watch.

      It is now April. Already food has run out in some parts of the
      world. In a few months winter will come, at least in the Northern
      Hemisphere. What will happen then? Are you certain food will be on
      your table?

      And suppose you wanted to make a contribution to your own well-being
      and to that of your family and community by going into farming. In
      most parts of North America you can look around and see plenty of
      underutilized land.

      But could you do it? Could you buy or lease land and pay taxes on it
      after the galloping inflation of the real estate bubble? Could you
      get bank loans for equipment and operating expenses under today's
      constrained credit conditions? Could you afford fuel for your
      equipment when petroleum costs over $115 a barrel? Is water readily
      available from developed supplies and is electricity available at
      regulated prices? Could you purchase anything other than genetically-
      modified seed? Would local supermarkets buy your produce when your
      prices are undercut by massive corporate distributorships importing
      food from abroad? Does the system even exist in your home town for
      marketing of local farm products?

      And does anyone in power even care?

      Well, whether they do or not, "We the People" should care. One of
      the worst aspects of the consumer society is the separation between
      the individual and the products of the earth we utilize. We always
      assume that whatever we need will be there so long as we have money
      in our bank account or the ability to charge on a credit card and
      pay later.

      Such assumptions are losing their validity. Back in the 1960s people
      who were starting to understand these things began a modest "back to
      the land" movement. Today it is time to start one again. Except this
      time we need to do it right by demanding government policies that
      support it. This means low-cost credit, price supports, affordable
      utilities, favorable tax policies, and decisions by government and
      businesses to "buy local." Food production cannot safely be left in
      the hands of agribusiness and international finance capitalism any
      longer.

      Richard C. Cook is a former U.S. federal government analyst, whose
      career included service with the U.S. Civil Service Commission, the
      Food and Drug Administration, the Carter White House, NASA, and the
      U.S. Treasury Department. His articles on economics, politics, and
      space policy have appeared on numerous websites. His book on
      monetary reform entitled We Hold These Truths: The Promise of
      Monetary Reform is in preparation. He is also the author of
      Challenger Revealed: An Insider's Account of How the Reagan
      Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age, called
      by one reviewer, "the most important spaceflight book of the last
      twenty years." His website is at:

      http://www.richardccook.com
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