Policy Brief No. 16: The World Food Crisis - What’s behind it and What we can do about it
by Eric Holt-Giménez, Ph.D.
“A Silent Tsunami” The World Food Program’s description of the global food crisis raises the specter of a natural disaster surging over an unaware populace that is helpless in the face of massive destruction. With billions of people at risk of hunger, the current food crisis is certainly massive and destructive. But the reasons so many people have limited access to food are anything but “natural.” On the contrary, decades of skewed agricultural policies, inequitable trade, and unsustainable development have thrown the world’s food systems into a volatile, boom and bust cycle and widened the gap between affluence and poverty. Though hunger is coming in waves, not everyone will “drown” in famine. In fact, the world’s recurrent food crises are making a handful of investors and multinational corporations very rich—even as they devastate the poor and put the rest of the planet at severe environmental and economic risk. The surge of so-called food “riots” not only in poor countries like Haiti, but in resource-rich countries like Brazil—and even in the industrialized nations of Europe and the United States—reflects the fact that people are not just hungry, they are rebelling against a dangerous and unjust global food system.
The food crisis is anything but silent, and—as long as we are aware of its true causes—we are not helpless.