food price crisis


Temel gıda fiyatlarında son yıllarda görülen artış, herşeyden ucuz ve bol tüketmeye alışmış Amerikalılar’ı da telaşlandırmaya başladı. Gıda problemi, yardım derneklerinin gündeminden günlük gazetelerin manşetlerine sıçrarken, medya alternatif ve sürdürülebilinir üretim yöntemleri arayışında. Daha önceki yıllarda sembolik gösterilerden öteye gitmeyen 16 Ekim Dünya Gıda Günü kutlamaları, bu sene birçok tartışmaya sahne oldu.

Hızla artan talebe kıyasla sabit seyreden gıda üretimi, 2007-2008 yıllarında ortalama pirinç fiyatının %217,tahıl fiyatının ise %136 artmasına yol açtı. Gıda fiyatlarındaki bu anormal artış, Amerika için bir ilk değil. 1973 yılında et ve tahıl fiyatlarında görülen yaklaşık %15lik artış huzursuzluk yaratmış, kriz sonucu zamanın Nixon hükümeti, çözüm getirmesi için, Earl Butz’ı Tarım Bakanı olarak atamıştı. Butz önderliğinde oluşturulan devrimci sayılabilecek tarım politikaları tarım ticareti yapan şirketleri destekleyerek küçük çiftçiyi istikrarsız bir pazara itti.

Bugün, Dünya Ticaret Örgütü’nün yürütmeye çalıştığı, geçerliliği tartışılır, Doha Round Ticaret Görüşmeleri’nin ana hedefi olan sübvansiyonlar, ilk defa Butz döneminde uygulanmaya başlandı. Devlet, çiftçi kredisi vermek yerine seri imalat yapan endüstriyel tarıma destek vermeyi seçmişti. Sübvansiyonlar ile çok düşük fiyata satılan endüstriyel mısır karşısında, küçük çiftçi ürettiğini satamaz hale geldi. Mısır, ucuz ve fazla miktardaydı; dolayısıyla yan ürünleri hızla türedi. Mısır ve yüksek kalorili yan ürünlerine olan bağımlılık bugünkü obezite probleminin başlıca nedenlerinden. Mısır, yalnızca bireysel tüketim için değil büyükbaş hayvan besininde de yaygın olarak kullanıldı. Amerika’da bugün, tahıl yemeye alışık olmayan otçul hayvanların sindirim sistemlerini düzenleyebilmek için sıklıkla antibiyotik ve enzim enjeksiyonu yapılınıyor.

20. yüzyıl gösterdi ki, kontrolsüz endüstriyel üretim sürdürelebilinir bir çözüm önerisi değil. Başkanlık seçiminin ana başlıklarını oluşturan enerji kaynaklarında dışarı bağımlılık, artan petrol fiyatları ve küresel iklim değişimi gibi hassas konular fabrikalaşmayı ve seri üretimi geçersiz kılıyor.

Gıda fiyatlarındaki artış, küreselleşmeye tepkiyi de yaygınlaştırdı. Gelişmekte olan ülkelerde ayaklanmalar arttıkça, Dünya Bankası ve IMF serbest-ticaret politikalarının da inandırıcılığı kalmadı. Ulus-devlet fikrini geri çağıran ulusal “gıda egemeliği” kavramına verilen önem arttıkça Amerika’nın küresel egemenliği de sekteye uğruyor.

Tüm dünyada artış gösteren “yerel”e özlem, Amerikan tarım kültürünü de yeniden şekillendiriyor. Gıda aktivistlerinin sayısı hızla artarken taze ve organik gıdaya yönelim çoğalıyor. Yerel üretim, herkesin temel besinini  yetiştirdiği küçük bir bahçe, birkaç yıl önce hippilerden kalma, zamanı geçmiş, hatta sağlıksız olarak değerlendirilirken günümüzde, özellikle yeni nesil tarafından, destekleniyor. Amerika, yeni bir hükümetle, daha sağlıklı, daha doğal ve daha lokal bir gelecek vadediyor.

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Food, Inc. directed by Robert Kenner

-premiered at Toronto Film Festival, in September 2008.

The Greenhorns, directed by Severine von Tscharner Fleming

-about young farmers

P.S. Please feel free to add more

Severine von Tscharner Fleming, 27
Filmmaker, advocate
Nevis, N.Y.

-formed the Society for Agriculture and Food Ecology at the University of California, Berkeley.

-She started serveyourcountryfood.net, an interactive map charting farmers under 40, and is making ‘‘The Greenhorns,” a documentary on ‘‘organic entrepreneurs.”

Anna Lappé, 34 / Bryant Terry, 34
Authors, advocates
Brooklyn

-published ”Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen” in 2006 as a way to cool-ify healthful, local, sustainable food, with a side of social justice.

-Lappé is the daughter of Frances Moore Lappé, whose 1971 best seller, ”Diet for a Small Planet,” changed how people thought about world hunger

-Lappés created the Small Planet Institute in 2001 to foster what they call ”a living democracy.”

-Lappé’s new book is about the connection between the global food system and climate change.

-Terry, based in Oakland, Calif., is currently a food-and-society-policy fellow of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Fair Food Foundation and is writing ”Vegan Soul Kitchen.”

Cruz Salucio, 24 / Romeo Ramirez, 27 / Silvia Perez, 34 / Gerardo Reyes, 31 / Leonel Perez, 20

Farmworker advocates
Immokalee, Fla.

-started The Coalition of Immokalee Workers in 1993 as a way for Latino, Haitian and Mayan Indian pickers to fight back.

-In 2001, they demanded an extra penny per pound of tomatoes from Taco Bell, which they received in 2005. They have since persuaded McDonald’s, Burger King and, last month, Whole Foods Market to move toward improving wages and working conditions.

Scott Harrison, 33
Water-charity founder
New York

-Through Charity Water, the nonprofit group he founded in 2007, he has raised more than $6 million and financed 890 water projects in 13 developing countries in Africa, Central America and Asia.

Hillary Wilson, 24 / Alice Brooke Wilson, 31 / Tom Philpott, 42 / Leo Gaev, 30
Farmers
Valle Crucis, N.C.

-the owners of Maverick Farms in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

Patrick Martins, 36
Breed saver
New York

-For his thesis on medieval food sculpture at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Martins spoke to Carlo Petrini, the Rabelaisian founder of the international slow-food movement.

-Martins then started Slow Food USA.

-He soon helped found Heritage Foods USA, which has worked to rescue vanishing turkey breeds like the Bourbon Red — as well as the farmers raising them — through a mail-order campaign.

-In 2004, Martins left Slow Food to make Heritage Foods USA an independent company with the idea that the best way to save food is by eating it.

-Today, more than 300 chefs, including Mario Batali and David Chang, rely on his growing network of small breeders and slaughterhouses for their ‘‘noncommodity’’ meat and poultry, including Horned Dorset lamb and Highland cattle.

-he recently helped open an agriturismo (a working-farm B. and B.) and he will soon start a food-themed Internet radio station.

What is Food Sovereignty?

Food sovereignty is a political concept that emerged as a response to conventional notions of food security. The prevalent development policies define food security as the natural outcome of liberalized international trade. Accordingly, even an import-dependent country is considered food secure, as long as it is able to finance its imports.1 The food sovereignty movement, on the other hand, proposes an alternative approach to food security. Comprising a network of NGOs, the movement prioritizes the right of peoples’ and countries’ to maintain and develop their own agricultural policy in order to produce their own basic food, while respecting cultural and productive diversity.2

The concept was introduced by La Via Campesina (World Peasant Movement) in 1996 at the World Food Summit.3 La Via Campesina is a self-styled international farming and peasant movement created in 1992 at the Congress of the National Union of Farmers and Livestock Owners (UNAG). The movement coordinates member groups from 56 countries including Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Member groups of Via Campesina include the Family Farmers’ Association (UK), Confederation Paysanne (France), Bharatiya Kisan Union (India), Landless Workers’ Movement (Brazil), National Family Farm Coalition (USA) and the Landless Peoples’ Movement (South Africa).4

The food sovereignty movement is not against trade, but instead questions the validity of neoliberal trade policies that prioritize international trade over national sovereignty. Food sovereignty implies the recognition of the right of farmers and peasants to produce food and the right of the consumers to decide what to consume. In a deregulated trade environment however, small farmers in developing countries cannot compete with low-priced imports of foreign food. Dumping, that is exporting at an unfairly low price, injures domestic economies by making them import dependent and vulnerable to global price and supply fluctuations.

The food sovereignty movement supports local solutions to secure access to food. Although popularized by international organizations, free trade has a minimal contribution to food security with only 10% of global food production traded internationally. For most countries, food security is achieved through domestic production, often by subsistence farmers.5

The food sovereignty movement favors family-based agriculture and recognizes women as the main force of production. The movement further respects women as protectors and managers of sustainable agriculture. In order to achieve food sovereignty, the movement rejects industrial agriculture and export-oriented food production. Instead, the proponents of food sovereignty argue that the control over natural resources should be given to the local people.6

[1] http://www.africaaction.org/resources/issues/FoodSovereigntyandtheFoodCrisis.htm

[2] http://www.viacampesina.org/main_en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=47&Itemid=38

[3] http://www.viacampesina.org/main_en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=47&Itemid=38

[4] http://www.viacampesina.org/main_en/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=60

[5] http://programs.ssrc.org/gsc/publications/quarterly9/suppan.pdf

[6] http://www.viacampesina.org/main_en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=139&Itemid=38

World Food Day, proclaimed by the Food and Agricultural Organization in 1979 to raise awareness of world hunger, is celebrated every year on the 16th of October.1 All over the world, events are organized to draw attention to specific issues surrounding world food production and distribution. Amidst the recent food price crisis, this year’s World Food Day will focus on the challenges climate change and bioenergy present for world food security.

The drastic increase in food prices severely hurt people living in poverty. The poorest people in the world roughly spend three quarters of their income on food, and higher food prices, alone, are estimated to push 100 million more people into absolute poverty.2 Climate change and increased demand for biofuels affect the availability of land, water and other natural resources; further contributing to rise in food prices.

Although small farmers seem to benefit from higher food prices, their success depends on their relative earnings. Change in temperatures and natural disasters, such as droughts and floods, as well as increased land and resource usage for biofuels limit the productivity of subsistence agriculture. As a result of low agricultural productivity, small farmers are forced to consume more than they produce, becoming subject to rising food prices.

Women, who, according to a FAO estimate, grow 80-90% of the food in Sub-Saharan Africa, are particularly vulnerable to climate change.3 As nutrition providers, women use agricultural biodiversity to produce food for their family. For sustainable living, most families depend on women, as opposed to men, who mostly produce commercial food.4 Therefore, the deterioration of the ecosystem, either through prioritization of biofuels or climate change, increases poverty among rural families.

More on food sovereignty, soon.

3 ftp://ftp.fao.org/nr/HLCinfo/Land-Infosheet-En.pdf