Food First Backgrounder Vol 14, Number 1--From Food Rebellions to Food Sovereignty: Urgent call to fix a broken food system
Hunger in a World of Plenty
The skyrocketing cost of food has resurrected the specter of "food riots." The World Bank reports that global food prices rose 83% over the last three years and the FAO cites a 45% increase in their wold food price index during just the past nine months. The Economist's comparable index stands at its highest point since it was originally formulated in 1848. As of March 2008, average world wheat prices were 130% above their level a year earlier, soy prices were 87% higher, rice had climbed 74% and maize was up 31%.
“We think biofuels can further our core mission, which is to bring economic opportunity and a better quality of life to the region’s low-income majority.”
--Luis Alberto Moreno, President Inter-American Development Bank
For years, critics and proponents alike have worried that the related methods of organic, low-input, low- or no-pesticide, integrated, small-scale, and sustainable production may address environmental concerns, but cannot produce sufficient food to sustain the large and growing human population. Such skepticism was understandable—the so-called Green Revolution of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s had been credited with averting widespread hunger crises by drastically increasing agricultural production, while the downsides of its technological advancements only began to enter the popular consciousness in the years after Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 1962. Questioning the source of the cornucopia that provided plenty to people throughout the world seemed downright ungracious and backward. How could we be critical of the Green Revolution when it had staved off so much hunger?
by Eric Holt-Giménez, Ian Bailey and Devon Sampson
Coffee Crisis—Take Two
“The Coffee Crisis” used to refer to the disastrous plunge in world coffee prices in the 1980s and 1990s that bankrupted hundreds of thousands of smallholders around the world. The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) is now poised to bring us the “Organic Coffee Crisis.” With a breathtaking disregard for transparency, consultation and public debate, the NOP is moving to make it prohibitively expensive and logistically impossible for small-scale organic coffee growers.
Updated by Holly Poole-Kavana based on the book World Hunger: Twelve Myths
Why so much hunger?
What can we do about it?
To answer these questions we must unlearn much of what we have been taught.
Only by freeing ourselves from the grip of widely held myths can we grasp the roots of hunger and see what we can do to end it.
Not Enough Food to Go Around
by Karl Beitel *
Going Local on a Global Scale: Rethinking Food Trade in the Era of Climate Change, Dumping, and Rural Poverty
by Kirsten Schwind
Food First Program Director