Via Alexander Higgins:
Fears of food riots strike Japan after rice trading is halted due to a 40% price spike triggered by massive hoarding of the remaining radiation free rice supply.
It is time to start paying very close attention the events unfolding in Japan as the nation teeters on the verge of food riots which may serve as an example of what other nations in a similar situation would face.
As we approach the 5 month marker since the onset of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan has repeatedly assured the public that the nation’s food supply was safe from radiation. Japan has given those reassurances despite warnings from experts that the nuclear fallout has already surpassed Read more…
A rare drought that has wreaked havoc in central and southern China is expected to send grain prices soaring as experts predict the worst disaster of its kind in 50 years could offset the government’s efforts to curb inflation and threaten its annual CPI target of 4 percent.
Five provinces in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River – Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui and Jiangsu, a major grain-producing region – have suffered the most serious drought in decades.
The drought had affected 34.8 million people, over one million livestock, and 3.7 million hectares of farmland as of Friday, causing direct economic losses of 14.9 billion yuan ($2.3 billion), the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.
As farmers struggled to find new water sources for their crops, many fishing boats found themselves grounded as the river and lakes shrank, and residents in the region found the prices of vegetables, rice and aquatic products rising.
“Prices of some fruit and vegetables have increased to 6 yuan per kilogram on Tuesday from 3.6 yuan last week,” Jin Zhengsheng, 50, a resident of Kunshan, Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times.
Huang Xianyin, 41, a villager from Xinjian county, Jiangxi Province, also noticed the hikes.
“It’s not only vegetables. Read more…
Johannesburg, South Africa
Global food prices reached a historic high last month, a fact that may cause even the most comfortable of Americans to cinch in their belts and cut back on spending.
But what about the world’s poor?
“Global food prices are rising to dangerous levels and threaten tens of millions of poor people around the world,” World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick said Tuesday as he announced the bank’s findings that about 44 million people in developing countries have been pushed into poverty since Read more…
The first GM food crop containing human genes is set to be approved for commercial production.
The laboratory-created rice produces some of the human proteins found in breast milk and saliva.
Its U.S. developers say they could be used to treat children with diarrhoea, a major killer in the Third World.
The rice is a major step in so-called Frankenstein Foods, the first mingling of human-origin genes and those from plants. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture has already signalled it plans to allow commercial cultivation.
The rice’s producers, California-based Ventria Bioscience, have been given preliminary approval to grow it on more than 3,000 acres in Kansas. The company plans to harvest the proteins and use them in drinks, desserts, yogurt and muesli bars.
The news provoked horror among GM critics and consumer groups on both sides of the Atlantic.
GeneWatch UK, which monitors new GM foods, described it as “very disturbing”. Researcher Becky Price warned: “There are huge, huge health risks and people should rightly be concerned about this.”
Friends of the Earth campaigner Clare Oxborrow said: “Using food crops and fields as glorified drug factories is a very worrying development.
“If these pharmaceutical crops end up on consumers’ plates Read more…
Food inflation is here and it’s here to stay. We can see it getting worse every time we buy groceries. Basic food commodities like wheat, corn, soybeans, and rice have been skyrocketing since July, 2010 to record highs. These sustained price increases are only expected to continue as food production shortfalls really begin to take their toll this year and beyond.
This summer Russia banned exports of wheat to ensure their nation’s supply, which sparked complaints of protectionism. The U.S. agriculture community is already talking about rationing corn over ethanol mandates versus supply concerns. We’ve seen nothing yet in terms of food protectionism.
Global food shortages have forced emergency meetings at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization where they claim “urgent action” is needed. They point to extreme weather as the main contributing factor to the growing food shortages. However, commodity speculation has also been targeted as one of the culprits.
It seems that the crisis would also present the perfect opportunity and the justification for the large GMO food companies to force their products into skeptical markets like in Europe and Japan, as recently leaked cables suggest. One thing is for sure; food shortages will likely continue to get worse and eventually become a full-scale global food crisis.
Here are seven reasons why food shortages are here to stay on a worldwide scale:
1. Extreme Weather: Extreme weather has been a major problem for global food; from summer droughts and heat waves that devastated Russia’s wheat crop to the ongoing catastrophes from ‘biblical flooding’ in Australia and Pakistan. And it doesn’t end there. An extreme winter cold snap and snow has struck the whole of Europe and the United States. Staple crops are failing in all of these regions making an already fragile harvest in 2010 even more critical into 2011. Based on the recent past, extreme weather conditions are only likely to continue and perhaps worsen in the coming years.
2. Bee Colony Collapse: The Guardian reported this week on the USDA’s study on bee colony decline in the United States: “The abundance of four common species of bumblebee in the US has dropped by 96% in just the past few decades.” It is generally understood that bees pollinate around 90% of the world’s commercial crops. Obviously, if these numbers are remotely close to accurate, then our natural food supply is in serious trouble. Luckily for us, the GMO giants have seeds that don’t require open pollination to bear fruit.
3. Collapsing Dollar: Commodity speculation has resulted in massive food inflation that is already creating crisis levels in poor regions in the world. Food commodity prices have soared to record highs mainly because they trade in the ever-weakening dollar. Traders will point to the circumstances described in this article to justify their gambles, but also that food represents a tangible investment in an era of worthless paper. Because the debt problems in the United States are only getting worse, and nations such as China and Russia are dropping the dollar as their trade vehicle, the dollar will continue to weaken, further driving all commodity prices higher.
4. Regulatory Crackdown: Even before the FDA was given broad new powers to regulate food in the recent Food Safety Modernization Act, small farms were being raided and regulated out of business. Now, the new food bill essentially puts food safety under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security where the food cartel uses the government to further consolidate their control over the industry. Militant police action is taken against farmers suspected of falling short on quality regulations. It is the power to intimidate innocent small farmers out of the business.
6. Increased Soil Pollution: Geo-engineering has been taking place on a grand scale in the United States for decades now. Previously known in conspiracy circles as ‘chemtrailing,’ the government has now admitted to these experiments claiming they are plan “B” to combat global warming. The patents involved in this spraying are heavy in aluminum. This mass aluminum contamination is killing plants and trees and making the soil sterile to most crops. In an astonishing coincidence, GMO companies have patented aluminum-resistant seeds to save the day.
The equation is actually quite simple: food is a relatively inelastic commodity in terms of demand. In other words, people need to eat no matter how bad the economy gets. Thus, demand can be basically measured by the size of the population. Therefore, as demand remains steady while the 7 supply pressures outlined above continue to worsen, food prices will have only one place to go — up, up, and up.
As international agencies scramble to find “solutions,” their energy may be just as well spent on questioning if this famine scenario is being purposely manipulated for profits. Regardless, the average person would be very wise to stock up on food staples as an investment, and frankly to survive the worsening food crisis