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 Answers to the World Food Crisis

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PostSubject: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:15 pm

The world food crisis looks as though it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. The UN has said today that food production needs to increase by 50% by 2030 if the world population is to be fed.
In the meantime food prices are being hit for six by rising oil prices, population increase, climate change, food inequalty and the shift to biofuel production.

There is no escaping the conclusion that the over-consumption of one half of the world (of oil and of food) is directly impacting on the poorer half.

Al Jazeera's report on the food crisis today says
Quote :
Billions of dollars are being wasted on feeding obese people in the West while millions starve around the world, Jacques Diouf, the United Nations food agency chief, has told world leaders at a summit on food security in Rome.

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/48044B43-657C-494A-8781-C52F5CD9364D.htm

"No one understands... how over-consumption by obese people in the world costs $20bn each year," Diouf said. On top of this, there are "$100bn in indirect costs resulting from premature deaths and associated diseases."

UN says soaring price of basic foods such as rice and cereals could affect about 100 million of the world's poorest

Global rice stocks have halved since hitting a record high in 2001 while demand is continuing to rise. In Asia, rice prices have almost tripled this year alone

Financial speculators, rising populations, floods, droughts, increased demand from developing countries, and removing crops from the food chain to produce biofuels have been cited as factors

Price rises have led producing nations to enforce export restrictions, further putting the squeeze on supply, especially in countries relying on imports.

Speaking at the opening of the three-day UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) summit in Italy's capital, Diouf also highlighted how an estimated $1.2 trillion was spent on weapons in 2006 while aid to agriculture fell by more than half, from $8bn in 1984 to $3.4bn in 2004.

"In real terms, the share of agriculture in public aid to development has fallen, from 17 per cent in 1980 to three per cent in 2006," he said

For the last five years the world population has consumed more food than it has produced and food stocks are dwindling.

Is it time to stop using land for bio fuels? And is it time for food rationing in the West? And is this as much a population problem as a food problem?
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:50 pm

The EU is one of the world's principle trading blocs; food is one of the world's basic necessities; is there anything direct and readable in the Lisbon Treaty about securing food supply for this bloc and encouraging affordable and sustainable food production practices with neighbouring regions and countries? Not a sausage I'd say, unless the YES people have been lauding it as one of the cornerstones of this Treaty only we missed it.

There is, however, overt references to military markets and expansion of military industries. Priorities anyone?
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Wed Jun 04, 2008 12:16 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
The EU is one of the world's principle trading blocs; food is one of the world's basic necessities; is there anything direct and readable in the Lisbon Treaty about securing food supply for this bloc and encouraging affordable and sustainable food production practices with neighbouring regions and countries? Not a sausage I'd say, unless the YES people have been lauding it as one of the cornerstones of this Treaty only we missed it.

There is, however, overt references to military markets and expansion of military industries. Priorities anyone?

The EU record is not great. Dumping and destroying local markets and hoovering up fish of the African coast with subsidised factory ships. Is this really necessary?
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Wed Jun 04, 2008 12:32 am

This morning on Pat Kenny there was a very interesting speaker - with a very English voice and a very Latin name, the details aren't on the website yet.

I was glad to hear someone else say that the pursuit of cheap food has had a detrimental effect on society and on food and its availability. It has long been my belief that we are not entitled to cheap food as of right, especially not if we think that right is justified by the market squeezing out producers across the globe or holding them hostage to multinationals.

But this man spoke provocatively about the desire of the West to gorge at the expense of those who have nothing, a practice which is physically, socially and morally bankrupt in my opinion.

I had a wry moment today in a shiny new supermarket at lunchtime when I went looking for something relatively healthy and not stodgy. Wow but the selection is poor but apart from that I was horrified to see the Weightwatchers, Unislim, etc section of the store (which is almost as big, though not quite as the home baking section) classified as Healthy Eating.

If David from p.ie who has such a deep philosophy about food and ethics were to post here, I think we'd learn a lot.
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Wed Jun 04, 2008 2:11 am

Kate P wrote:
This morning on Pat Kenny there was a very interesting speaker - with a very English voice and a very Latin name, the details aren't on the website yet.

I was glad to hear someone else say that the pursuit of cheap food has had a detrimental effect on society and on food and its availability. It has long been my belief that we are not entitled to cheap food as of right, especially not if we think that right is justified by the market squeezing out producers across the globe or holding them hostage to multinationals.

But this man spoke provocatively about the desire of the West to gorge at the expense of those who have nothing, a practice which is physically, socially and morally bankrupt in my opinion.

I had a wry moment today in a shiny new supermarket at lunchtime when I went looking for something relatively healthy and not stodgy. Wow but the selection is poor but apart from that I was horrified to see the Weightwatchers, Unislim, etc section of the store (which is almost as big, though not quite as the home baking section) classified as Healthy Eating.

If David from p.ie who has such a deep philosophy about food and ethics were to post here, I think we'd learn a lot.

It's interesting to look at the supermarket shelves with a view to removing all the crap. There isn't much left when you do that, apart from the traditional shelves, fruit, veg, bread, dairy and meat+fish.

Do we really need 85 varieties of sugar loaded breakfast cereal ?

I think we've lost respect for food. It's treated like disposable junk like everythink else, not as a requirement for life and health. So much of it is simply wasted.
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Wed Jun 04, 2008 2:51 am

EvotingMachine0197 wrote:
It's interesting to look at the supermarket shelves with a view to removing all the crap. There isn't much left when you do that, apart from the traditional shelves, fruit, veg, bread, dairy and meat+fish.

Do we really need 85 varieties of sugar loaded breakfast cereal ?

I think we've lost respect for food. It's treated like disposable junk like everythink else, not as a requirement for life and health. So much of it is simply wasted.
Corrigan, who knows food, is interesting to listen to if you hear him. He's going on RTE with a new show soon. He was saying on radio that 35% of people's bought food is binned ... that's fecking mad! He also lampooned the shoppers who filled up their trolleys (which have gotten bigger over the years) and called that their weeks food ... My answer: tax the living bejesus out of over processed food although Eamon Ryan is doing this I think. Do we really need, as you say EvotingMachine, 47 different types of shite for our kiddies? It's gone mad with marketing.

Is excess sugar and salt necessary in the diet too? I think there is enough of those in food already.

One answer to the food crisis may be to farm less meat and begin by promoting that. I wouldn't miss it too much, the meat. Besides, bolognese sauce can taste a lot better with less mince of better quality and more veggies. In collapse the Tikopians killed all their swine because their island couldn't support feeding a population of Tikopians and piggies. It's almost getting time for a veggie justification/protein/bio science/international food programme/land use thread.
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Wed Jun 04, 2008 3:23 pm

cactus flower wrote:
The world food crisis looks as though it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. The UN has said today that food production needs to increase by 50% by 2030 if the world population is to be fed.
In the meantime food prices are being hit for six by rising oil prices, population increase, climate change, food inequalty and the shift to biofuel production.

There is no escaping the conclusion that the over-consumption of one half of the world (of oil and of food) is directly impacting on the poorer half.

Is it time to stop using land for bio fuels? And is it time for food rationing in the West? And is this as much a population problem as a food problem?

This is not going to improve, ever, because we are running out of oil. Growing food will become more expensive, as will harvesting transporting and refridgerating. We use 10 calories of oil for every one calorie we eat. Properly managed, we might just be able to continue to feed the people we've got...send people and horses back into the fields to replace the tractors, build up local supplies and stop jetting foodstuffs around the planet. But I don't see those sorts of tough management decisions being taken. The situation may evolve benignly if oil supplies decline by 1-2% per annum from now, if they start plummeting, we are into WW3 territory, hence the references in Lisbon to military capability.

In reponse to food security arrangements for the EU bloc.... it's called the CAP, we need to retain it, albeit with more for small producers and less for large landowners. The solution to this problem, contrary to the opinions of Peter Mandelson and his ilk, is NOT to open all our markets.. this may have been a great idea if oil were a renewable resource, BUT IT ISNT and jetting all our nosh halfway around the world is not going to help Africa in the long term because it is UNSUSTAINABLE. Ships also run on oil, so relying on shipped food isn't so smart either, although I am aware the carbon footprint is smaller. Africa and the rest of the Third world should be allowed to impose their own tariffs and foster their own agricultural sectors; food security should come first and not last.

Hypothetical scenario if the CAP was abolished tomorrow... half of the EU's farmers would down tools immediately and the food situation would get far worse. I know it was previously responsible for injustices and distortions, but we've eaten all the food mountains now, we need to prop our farmers up, not take 'em down. Think of tomorrow, yesterday is irrelevant!

I would agree with people suggesting more growing/consumption of cereals, with two HUGE caveats for this country (and NW Britain)... arable farming is not feasible in the western half of Ireland owing to the rainfall (projected to get heavier on this side of the country), and secondly, arable farming in the West is highly machinery intensive, whereas livestock feed themselves, and more importantly, can be used to fertilise arable fields.

We need to get used to local, seasonal produce, move food shorter distances, grow more of our own (suburban gardens, allotments, fruit trees in public parks, farmers markets etc). I'm not an organic advocate, but since most of the pesticides and fertilisers used are oil based, we'd better get used to organic farming methods, because they might be about to become a whole load cheaper than the petrochemically assisted ones.

Finally, it might be wise to slap all those recently unemployed builders, baggage handlers, airline personnel etc into ag labour courses while theyre on the dole, as, without oil, we'll need more people on the farms and gardens

And horses... they have a 1 year gestation period, so if we want enough of them to replace the tractors in 30 years when the diesel is a thing of the past, we need to start breeding them now.

Sadly, we haven't yet figured out an oil free method for heavy haulage, so I think if people in the cities want to eat AT ALL, we'd better keep some land in biofuel production.... but it shouldn't be used to fill people's SUVs. A good idea might be to insist that all Irish use biofuels are grown in Ireland, and to run the emergency services and the odd bus/train on them! Should be sustainable!
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Wed Jun 04, 2008 3:38 pm

What about nuclear powered ships to move stuff around?

Besides freaking me out there expat girl, shouldn't we for many reasons establish public allotments in towns for people? I tried to lobby for this in my area in the past but got nowhere with the local council - it was like pushing a river uphill. I think there may be a sense of urgency like you say but how do people mobilise in order to provide for that possibility without looking like nutcases? Lately I've been looking at agricultural land prices around here and reckon half an acre near the sea with a boat might do. Hadn't thought about horses - don't think it's possible pull a plough with a boat.

Is there a concerted effort by some groups to get this issue sorted in an equitable, peaceful and sustainable manner?
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:03 pm

I found this article on this issue on the web.

The article has this particular paragraph about answers to the world food crisis,

"Rather than propping up fossil-fuel-intensive, long-distance food systems through oil, irrigation, and transport subsidies, governments could promote sustainable agriculture, locally grown foods, and energy-efficient transportation. Incentives to use environmentally friendly farming methods such as conservation tillage, organic fertilizer application, and integrated pest management could reduce farm energy use significantly. Rebate programs for energy-efficient appliances and machinery for homes, retail establishments, processors, and farms would cut energy use throughout the food system. Legislation to minimize unnecessary packaging and promote recycling would decrease energy use and waste going to landfills."

As well as that, I think people can reduce the energy intensity of their dinner by walking, rather than driving to the shop. This would significantly reduce the amount of oil consumed to make our food.
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:12 pm

If people shopped online more and had their food home delivered there would be a reduction also. It is not too far in the past that most groceries were in fact delivered to the home prior to so many people having cars. Of course, there would be opposition to this by supermarkets as if you shop online you will generally spend less as you won't pick up that extra discretionary item which tickles your fancy when you see it on the shelves.

We should also make more use of canals.

That is merely in response to Ard's comments above.
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:07 am

Do any of you think it's a good proposal that anyone who is overweight should be taxed more?

muhahahha
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:00 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
Do any of you think it's a good proposal that anyone who is overweight should be taxed more?

muhahahha

Or we go Easter Island on 'em and turn cannibal!
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:01 am

We already do - it's called VAT Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:11 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
Do any of you think it's a good proposal that anyone who is overweight should be taxed more?

muhahahha

I'm not sure, but I think airline tickets should be priced by customer weight.
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Thu Jun 05, 2008 10:21 pm

What about the idea of making restaurant food more affordable or more accessible?

That might sound like 'let them eat cake' but there's a bit of logic behind it. People who could afford to go out and eat more would use less energy in cooking... It might sound crass or something but aren't restaurants a sort of unaffordable communism? Energy is used more efficiently indeed everything is used more efficiently in large numbers like that and I wonder if it's a half valid point at all?

The upside of an economy which was eat-out driven should be that there is more employment in agriculture and the restaurant business itself. I'm convinced this is a good idea. There is a shopping centre in Ennis where the foyer is crying out if you ask me for a food hall like the one in Dublin. Public spaces for eating should be promoted by giving tax incentives and sorting out whatever hygiene and other laws that impede rapid expansion of casual but healthy eateries.

If food was taxed so that local stuff would be at an advantage then you might see a boom out of this kind of enterprise. If everyone could afford to not cook once a week think of the nation's energy savings with regard to imports ... more cash stays at home.

People should also be given time off work in order to go out and eat.

I'm not sure about that last point.
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Thu Jun 05, 2008 11:33 pm

It sounds very red to me Auditor, but perhaps not in a bad way. I went to Prague when it was just after having its Spring and not yet very capitalist and you could eat in department store cafes for next to nothing.
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Fri Jun 06, 2008 2:27 am

A dude on the radio yesterday said you get one tenth the food from a cow as you would from the grain used to feed the cow. And I can't remember the %, but we use huge amounts of grain to feed livestock.

Just passing that on - I have not point to make. cyclops
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Fri Jun 06, 2008 2:46 am

EvotingMachine0197 wrote:
A dude on the radio yesterday said you get one tenth the food from a cow as you would from the grain used to feed the cow. And I can't remember the %, but we use huge amounts of grain to feed livestock.

Just passing that on - I have not point to make. cyclops
It's an interesting one for Ireland because the world wants meat even though we should switch to less meat growing and more lentil and general pulse growing for all our good. Ireland is brilliant at producing meat as is Argentina and New Zealand. England too. These countries could become the Meat OPEC of the future if other nations have to switch to grain crops big scale because meat is very easy to produce here. Isn't it?
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:05 am

EvotingMachine0197 wrote:
A dude on the radio yesterday said you get one tenth the food from a cow as you would from the grain used to feed the cow. And I can't remember the %, but we use huge amounts of grain to feed livestock.

Just passing that on - I have not point to make. cyclops

Expatgirl who knows her beef and onions said that the west side of the country is only good for animal rearing as too wet for grains, but the east could switch to grain.
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:14 pm

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2008/07/20087117435146411.html

The IMF issued a report on the food crisis yesterday which described "Some countries ...(are) at a tipping point".
"If food prices rise further and oil prices stay the same, some governments will no longer be able to feed their people and at the same time maintain stability in their economies,"
The IMF CEO called for more co-operation between nations to tackle higher oil and food prices. The world IMF's policy is protect global financial stability but critics have accused it of acting to protect the interests of more powerful nations such as the US.
Quote :
Peter O'Driscoll, the executive director of Action Aid USA, a development aid organisation, told Al Jazeera that the IMF was to blame for much of the current food crisis.

O'Driscoll said the IMF had encouraged developing countries to grow crops for the export market, putting their food security at risk, and that the body had pushed governments to end subsidies of domestic agricultural industries.

There is a real dilemma now as to whether to intensify agriculture in the attempt to meet demand, or to try to switch to less sustainable agriculture that produces less. It seems to me that we need a family planning approach that will stabilise and ultimately reduce the population of the planet, as it is now severely overburdened.

There was a book published last year that suggested that urbanisation took place originally because of climate change and the need for more intensively managed agriculture. That was probably the biggest single change in the way our species lives so far, but it seems to have lead to runaway population growth over a few thousand years.
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Fri Jul 04, 2008 1:56 pm

There's a lot of issues here.

Dr Diouf's angle is that we have a moral obligation to stop stuffing our faces and feed Africa. My opinion on that is that Africa needs to sort it's sh!t out and start feeding itself.

Over population is undoubtedly a problem. If you want to be really cold blooded about it, nature has a solution to animal over population regardless of species. Usually famine and consequent de-population.

The price of oil- definitely a problem. What's worse it is undoubtedly a problem manufactured by the money hungry oil companies. Man kind has put a man on the moon and launched spacecraft to travel to distant planets. And we can't design an engine that doesn't burn oil? Something does not compute.

That said bio fuels that take up agricultural land appear to be a non-runner at the moment. Either science comes up with a better idea or forget it.

Oil dependency. We need to reduce the amount of oil we consume. In Ireland that means a cheap efficient and reliable public transport system. Food can be transported by electric trains rather than oil guzzling lorries. Tax gas guzzling vehicles out of existence and get urban dwellers back on the bicycle. I occasionally cycle the 10 miles to work whereas some of my colleagues drive less than a mile to work. I know one who drives his SUV 100 yards from home to job regularly. Oh yeah and the yummy mummys- get your fat teenagers out on their two feet to walk to school. We could pedestrianise town centres and make people walk or bus from the car parks on the outskirts.

Nuclear electricity generation- we need it. Some of you can get up off the floor now, I didn't say child pornography, I said nuclear. We can't afford to convert hundreds of acres to windfarms or solar energy or whatever. Nuclear is safe, efficient and reliable. 336 people were killed by oil burning cars in Ireland last year.

The luddites can forget about going back to the horse and plough. It would probably take 20 men and 20 horses to plough the same ground that one man on a tractor can do in a day. Not that any farmer could pay 20 men a living wage. Plus horses consume fodder, which requires land to grow it, all year round, whether they are used or not. Tractors don't have to be fed. And the farmer with the horse will expend more energy to produce less.

Farmers could be encouraged to go back into vegetable growing. Their grandparents would be horrified at the sight of people who own a hundred acres of land buying Cyprus potatos in Tesco. Allotments are a great idea and we could educate people to grow their own in the back yard.

Finally we have the good fortune (in Europe) to live in a benign climate, which produces enough food and wealth. Just in case anybody decides he'd like that for himself, lets not do away with the military just yet.
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Sat Jul 05, 2008 10:26 pm

LINK Interesting things happening in Argentina...
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Sun Jul 06, 2008 12:06 am

Kate P wrote:
LINK Interesting things happening in Argentina...
Does that look like they want to keep consumption of their produce at home ? Are they getting a bad deal exporting? Maybe the exchange rate is crap for them and they're better off doing this for the balance of payments, though it appears to be hurting some people some farmers I suppose?

Argentina is one of those super-fertile countries too isn't it and could easily support itself?
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Sun Jul 06, 2008 1:06 pm

I understood the article to mean that the Argentinian government wants to improve tax takes by increasing taxes on the seemingly fuitfull global food market.
Quote :
Fernandez has refused to roll back the taxes, saying they are needed to share soaring farm profits with Argentina's 10 million poor.

I'm still not convinced farmers are seeing hugely increased profits from the current high food prices though.
I seem to remember Glanbia announcing a cut in the price it pays for milk recently.
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PostSubject: Re: Answers to the World Food Crisis   Mon Jul 07, 2008 9:49 am

Quote :

Argentina's lower house of Congress on Saturday approved a package of grain-export taxes that have sparked nationwide farm protests and food shortages.

and

Quote :
President Cristina Fernandez implemented a more than 10 percent increase in the taxes on March 11, sparking months of on-and-off protests by major farm groups who blocked highways and caused nationwide food shortages

Agreed African Dave, but the interesting part is that the actions have led to food shortages within the country. The farmers say that they need the money to reinvest. Ten percent is a huge hike - who could tolerate it?

The other interesting part is what you refer to at the end of your post, AfricanDave.

Last year was a good year for farmers - the price of grain went up but inputs didn't. So those grain producers did relatively well.

This year however, there is vastly increased production, increased speculation, increased diesel costs, fertiliser costs have gone up by 70% because of the other factors I've just mentioned....

I wonder does that mean that even though there will be greater amounts of grain available, it will still cost a lot more - but that farmers won't be the ones making the decent profit like last year?

I can't see that Argentina's high farm profits are any more than the blip they are here. Which does not bode well for the future.
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