Article written

  • on 17.04.2011
  • at 01:33 PM
  • by Staff

Afronline supports campaign “Stop gambling on hunger” 0

Bringing an end to the speculation on food. This is the aim of a joint campaign between Vita (Afronline’s publisher), Action Aid International and others Italian NGOs, which is going to be launched in Italy on Friday April 15.

Thousands of people – 25 thousand, to be precise – die of hunger or causes tied to starvation. This is the extreme result of a situation, which affects millions of people in the world every day and causes one billion people to be malnourished. At the root of the problem lie the extreme variations that food prices are subjected to worldwide.

Since June 2010, the prices of corn and wheat have doubled, again. At the same time, commodity markets – from Chicago to Singapore – have seen primary resources and food derivatives increase by 10-20% compared to the previous year.

The same thing had already happened between 2007 and 2008: the price of some cereals doubled and in some cases quadrupled. Then, in less than sixty days they fell to their original values. This had grave consequences for the poorer countries where wheat and corn are the staple food. In these first few months of 2011, food prices have again soared, this time higher than ever before.

The relationship between financial speculation and increase in prices is a complex one, what is certain is that speculation increases the existing inequities between supply and demand caused by other factors. Nonetheless, established research proves that financial speculation on food multiplies the effect of said inequalities.

Market rules created so as to increase the efficiency of exchanges between producers, consumers and intermediary businesses are falsified by these new players who have no actual interest in buying or selling wheat, corn, soya beans or rice but who are solely after the maximum returns in the shortest time.

For these reasons, Vita and Action Aid are calling for regulations, which safeguard food markets from speculation.

The European Commission itself seems to be intent on promoting similar actions. “Food speculation is scandalous. There are millions of people dying of hunger in the world today,” declared Michel Barnier, the Commissioner for Internal Markets, “we must ensure that markets contribute to sustainable growth”. In the USA, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a watchdog for this sector focused mainly on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, has proposed a similar set of rules.

In Milan, the heart of Italy’s financial market and the host of the 2015 Expo, which has the ambitious theme of “Nourishing the planet, energy for life”, a civil society campaign seeks to add its voice to these efforts. An appeal is being launched to the men and women running in the upcoming mayoral elections: the Mayor who will lead Milan during the 2015 Expo, is being called on by Vita and Action Aid to take a concrete step in the right direction by adhering to their campaign. More than this, they are being asked to agree to a code of conduct that will not allow the local government to invest in derivatives, which speculate on food prices. Vita and Action Aid believes it would be a strong political message to the world and a means of taking on a “global” responsibility.

Hungry people are hungry now. We need action now and we need you to bring an end to food speculation.

By Emanuela Citterio – Afronline

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