jueves, abril 03, 2008

Blame agrofuels (Two items from Food First's newsletter)

1. Bakers March on Washington to Protest Rising Wheat Prices
“Members of theExecutive Committee of the National Associationof MasterBakers met here today to consider means of dealing with the sharp advance in the price of flour,almost 100 per cent, which, it was declared, is driving many small bakers into bankruptcy.”
-- Chicago Tribune, Sept. 6, 1916
Harkening back to those days of food protests, a “Band of Bakers March,” organized by the American Baking Association, which represents 85% of the baking industry, led a march on Washington on March 12th, 2008 to protest rising wheat prices. "Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. With the critically low reserves and severe conditions in the wheat markets, the American Bakers Association (ABA) is calling on all bakers to come to Washington and demand action by USDA and Congress," said ABA President and CEO Robb MacKie.
The Energy Independence and Security Act, signed into law in 2007, increases the amount of ethanol to be used in fuel, leading to rising grain costs that—along with rising fuel prices and rising food exports—threaten bakers’ profits and jobs. Durum wheat prices increased from $5.16 per bushel February 2007 to $16.40 by February 2008; a 317% increase.The Bush administration has said it opposes limiting exports.
"ABA has repeatedly urged the White House, the USDA and Congress to provide meaningful relief to alleviate the growing wheat crisis” said MacKie “unfortunately those calls have gone unheeded. Now is the time for all bakers, from all organizations, to join ABA in coming to Washington to deliver this important message personally.” MacKie and other ABA representatives were to meet with newly confirmed Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer and senior White House officials in Washington on the day of the march. MacKie told a news conference: "Our concern is that there is a sense at USDA that this is a temporary blip… it's going to get much worse.”
2. Rising Food Prices, Rising Food Protests
Food riots are currently on the rise across the globe, caused less by shortfalls in world food production than by the rising food prices that increased 37 percent in 2007, according to the FAO.
The global surge in protests and conflicts over rising food prices began in January 2007 with Mexico's "tortilla crisis" when tortilla prices more than doubled over the previous year. The country's dominant tortilla producers, Gruma (of which ADM owns 27%), claimed that it was passing along the high corn prices that were being pushed up by US ethanol policy. However, public outrage pressured the president to open an investigation as to whether the company had been hoarding supplies so as to artificially lift prices even further. Reports say that 70,000 protesters took to the streets, some with banners reading "no queremos PAN, queremos tortillas" in a play on the word "pan" that rejected both the white bread that some households had been forced to switch to as well as President Calderon's PAN political party. For more, see http://grist.org/comments/food/2007/02/22/tortillas/
As grain prices continued to rise–corn, wheat, and soy have each approximately doubled over the past two years–discontent erupted in places that had not fallen victim to such overt price-gouging.
· Italy: In September, Italians boycotted their national food, pasta, for one day to protest a jump in the cost of wheat and other staples. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6992444.stm
· Morocco: Protesters stymied government plans to raise the price of bread by 30% after a confrontation that injured at least 50 people. Violence returned in January, killing 60. http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/F6F855F2-BF6D-4C99-BBF9-E21FDA36254D.htm
· Mauritania: In November, one person died and several were injured after police clashed with groups of mostly young people complaining about the price of cereals and oils. http://www.mg.co.za/articlepage.aspx?area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__africa/&articleid=324529&referrer=RSS
· Senegal: Riots were sparked after the president issued an order to evict street vendors in a climate of growing discontent over food prices and inequality. "Prices of basic commodities are reaching incomprehensible levels," a union leader told the Integrated Regional Information Networks. http://allafrica.com/stories/200711220888.html
· Indonesia: In January, 10,000 protesters pressured the government to lift an import tax on soy, a predominately imported staple source of protein for working people, that had doubled in price on world markets. http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20080215-49807.html
· Burkina Faso: In February rioters targeted government buildings two weeks after officials pledged to take "strong measures" to control the rising prices of food and other basic goods. http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=76905
· Cameroon: At least 20 people were killed in the country's worst rioting in 15 years after the president announced an extension to his regime's rule. Protesters demanded cuts in food and fuel prices as well as the president's resignation. http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKL2934234720080229?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0
· Yemen and Middle East: A dozen people were killed in a string of protests over bread prices that have doubled over the past four months. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/25/world/middleeast/25economy.html?_r=1&ref=world&oref=slogin
· Egypt: Shortages of subsidized bread have created long lines, making for tense situations that have occasionally turned violent. At least 10 people died during the first two weeks of March outside of bakeries that produce subsidized bread. http://www.reliefmine.com/articles/preparedness/61-preparedness/101-food-riots-in-egypt

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