Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hunger Bows to Financial Crisis Carnivores

It is one of those chicken and egg first type things. Hungry people need money to purchase foods to quiet the pangs of an empty stomach. Stable financial systems are needed to ensure people have a proper diet. One does not exist without the other in an endless feedback loop but the 2008 celebration of World Food Security: The Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy continues apace without a trace of irony.

The disparity between the issues culminates in an annual World Food Day to bring attention to the ongoing horrible lack of food for much of the world. In the wake of economic collapses in all the swanky market indexes, a day of hunger lost its prominence for much of the participants who gave food and money to stop hunger. A terrible irony as money woes and growling guts coincide in twin tragedies enveloping the world that would cheer a trail of bread crumbs right about now. Only 10& of the world's pledges to stop hunger have been fulfilled to the Food and Agriculture organization (FAO) as the year goes into its eleventh month rebounding from the crashing stock markets around the globe. The motto of the FAO is Fiat Panis or Let there be Bread.

"The media have highlighted the financial crisis at the expense of the food crisis," said Jacques Diouf, head of the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome. The World Food Programme's Executive Director Josette Sheeran acknowledged that even citizens of wealthy countries had been affected by high food prices and the financial crisis.
"But for those who live on less than a dollar a day, it's a matter of life and death," Sheeran said.
Proponents of more urgent measures questioned why the world's richest nations could not show the same urgency to save people from starvation as they did when rushing to rescue banks.
The sadder part is pockets of the world are being hit harder than reeling developed nations. Even inside first world countries there are pockets of heartbreak and a ravaged middle class that are showing up at the local food banks grateful for any assistance. The strongest nation on earth cannot properly feed all of its people even though there is an export market for American foodstuffs. America will cough up 5.5 billion in contributions. Juxtapose that against a defense spend of $10 billion a month just in Iraq. Pope Benedict pulled no punches about Sin when he pointed out the amount of money going to military efforts, horrendous corruption schemes leaving a declining amount to feed the world's citizens.
"The means and resources that the world has today are able to provide enough food to satisfy the growing needs of everybody," Benedict told the Rome-based agency.
Benedict blamed food shortages on "feverish speculation" that drives up prices, along with "corruption in public life or growing investments in weapons and sophisticated military technologies to the detriment of people's primary needs."
Mix in natural devastation from climate conditions like flooding or drought and the crisis gives acid reflux to the world.

Raj Patel brings an experts critical eye to the food imbalance that siezes on the twin polar conditions involving food, too much for some - too little for others as food undergoes profound changes to make it more of a business commodity. Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System takes the reader on a hunger tour via the thoroughly inedible written word.

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