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Issue #1560      15 August 2012

World turns to PM as food crisis deepens

Anti-poverty charity War on Want shoved British Prime Minister David Cameron into the spotlight over his failure to address the root causes of the global food crisis. Speaking before Hunger summit in London the charity blamed record levels of global hunger on a food system hijacked by agribusiness corporations.

In particular it cited the example of Cargill - the world’s largest grain trader - which last week announced US$134 billion in consolidated revenues for the full fiscal year 2012. Cargill’s announcement came on the same day as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation reported a 17 percent rise in its cereal price index from June to July, the charity said.

But rather than tackling such firms, War on Want argued that the British government focused attention on food aid and nutritional intervention, which would do nothing to address the root causes.

It said that sustainable farming under the alternative framework of agroecology - applying ecological principles to the production of food, fuel and fibre - which has been backed by UN special rapporteur on the right to food Olivier De Schutter, would be far more effective.

Yet Britain has consistently opposed this approach, defending a global food system “which has condemned one billion people to hunger and pressing for an ever greater role for the private sector,” the charity said.

War on Want executive director John Hilary said: “The world needs a massive shake-up of farming and food distribution if we are to end the global food crisis. Record numbers of people now live with hunger as an everyday reality, yet the big food companies continue to profit from their control over the system.”

Meanwhile aid charities handed in petitions with over 500,000 signatures to Downing Street, calling on the government to tackle the crisis in regions such as Sahel in west Africa. Save the Children and World Vision have warned that more than one million children in Sahel were at risk of severe malnutrition.

The main cause was a lack of protection against shock price rises and called for greater investment to tackle food insecurity.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said the government wanted to capitalise on the success of the Olympics by pledging to help hungry children abroad.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “It’s an important moment to galvanise public support for something that Britain wants to be a real legacy for these Games, along with all our sporting aspirations for the future too.

“We think it’s a terrible thing that 170 million children go to bed starving every night in our world, one in three of the poorest children in the world.

“It’s a chance for Britain, together with the next hosts of the Olympics, the Brazilians, to put a real flag in the sand about the importance of tackling malnutrition in the future.”

Morning Star  

Next article – Turkey installs camp near the Syrian border

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