Much is being said about the current ‘global food crises’.  In short, there’s generally a consensus that U.S. and European demand for biofuels (and other food-based non-food products, like the “soy foam” that Ford Motors keeps touting as the ‘greening’ of it’s fleet) has drastically driven up the prices for staple crops like corn, soy, and cereals (the most heavily subsidized parts of U.S. agriculture, coincidentally).  This, along with some seriously heavy losses due to crop failures last year (for rice, wheat, and hops) has driven up the cost of everything from flour to rice to beer to beef.  But that’s not even the whole story, as over 25 years of unbridled capitalist marketification (a term I’m coining right now) are now rearing their ugly head and threatening to bring want and lack to even the most stable, affluent regions of the world.  Just a few examples:

For starters, the Asia-based Pecticide Action Network (PAN) has been warning for several years now that a global rice disaster was well underway thanks to poor farming practices and the stupidity of supply and demand economics imposed on farming.  They were entirely ignored by the world’s biggest rice-producing countries, and now those very countries (all 10 of the biggest rice-producing nations are in Asia, except Brazil) are facing a disastrous food shortage as rice crops fail.

Japan, so far, has been the hardest hit of the post-industrialized nations.  When your production is limited by island geography, I’d suggest you aim for sustainability rather than exports.  But hey, who asked me anyway?

American consumers began to see the effects of the global food crises as for the first time in generations the begining stages of food rationing has gotten underway.  However, the much-publicized move by ‘buyer’s clubs’ like Wal-Mart owned Sam’s Club to limit rice purchases to one 80-lbs back per family seems like nothing, especially when juxtaposed against facts like the United Nations being forced to temporarily halt food aid to Palestinians because of the current food shortage- about 800,000 Palestinians now have no reliable source for food.

For several years now, farm labor organizers have been demanding a mere $.01 increase in in the price per pound they receive for harvesting tomatoes in Florida for the huge Yum! corporation, who supply many fast food chains (including McDonald’s and Burger King).  The wage increase would amount to an average of $70 a day, versus the current wage of $50 a day.  Now it’s coming out that a Burger King V.P. has been frequenting various internet boards and blogs under his daughters username in order to taunt and smear the campaign organizers.  I’ve only one thing (for now) to say to that guy: get a life.

This is going to get way worse before it gets better folks.  Buckle-up, and welcome to the less exciting side of capitalism.

 

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