The Other Crisis

Most media and many people are, understandably, consumed by the U.S. economic crisis. Hopefully, political debates and new presidents will soon focus on the "other" crisis as well.

The "'tsunami' of hunger," writes Esther Vivas, "is no natural process, but stems from the neoliberal policies of international institutions, imposed over decades." Citing the statistic that over 850 million people are suffering from hunger in the face of a crisis only deepening, Vivas clearly and systematically breaks down both causes of and alternatives to the current policies.

To summarize: Because of the privatization of "earth, water [and] seeds," natural resources have been pillaged, and food's intrinsic meaning has shifted from nourishment to its market value. Further, decades of neoliberal policies have allowed crops to be sold at prices lower than their cost and have reduced crop diversity. Finally, the monopoly of the food distribution chain has allowed companies to dictate wholesale and retail prices, production and consumption. One of the most telling statistics is this:

In Spain, for example, the average disparity between original and purchase price is 400%, with distributors reaping the greatest benefit. On the other hand, the farmer is receiving less and less pay for his goods, and the consumer is paying more and more for his purchases.

Yet there are viable alternatives, argues Vivas. Calling for agrarian reform that addresses both production and property, she argues that farmers must regain rights to their land, seeds and water: "Returning agriculture into the hands of the family farm is the only route to guaranteeing universal access to foodstuffs." Moreover, today's failing policies must be reshaped or rejected to stabablize the system, including in such reforms food reserves for times of underproduction. We must also turn to more responsible consumption, as illustrated by this point:

Were the whole world to consume as does a United States citizen, we would require five land-locked planets just to satisfy the needs of our world population.

Read Vivas' full article on Znet, which covers these points and more in depth.

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  1. Anonymous12:08 AM

    Too few people want to do anything unless it benefits their own interests. Now with a shaky economy in the U.S. people are even less likely to care about the well being of others. And unless corporate agriculture and special interest groups can figure out how to protect their interests, nothing is going to change in the larger scheme of things. Negative? perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

  2. well big news is US is sinking.

  3. It's good to read about this issue in clear, concise, digestible terms. Thanks Alanna!


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