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In the year 2007, wheat prices rose 77 percent and rice 16 percent. These were some of the sharpest price hikes ever. But this year the speed of change has accelerated even further. Since January 2008, the price of rice has soared just over 140 percent.
Says Josette Sheeran, head of the UN World Food Programme, “… This crisis is different. It is occurring in many countries simultaneously, the first time that has happened since the early 1970s. And it is affecting people not usually hit by famines.”
So what’s happening?
There’s a lot of talk about the rising demand for biofuel being the culprit, as more farmers are now growing biofuel products rather than food, spurred on by various governmental incentives. But that’s certainly not the one and only factor fueling this world-wide problem.
What has Caused This Burgeoning Food Crisis?
Other factors that have been pointed out, in various articles spread across the past weeks, include:
A few others, from non-traditional media outlets, bypass all these “excuses” and point the finger directly at the similarities between our current situation and previous man-made famines for the end purpose of mass genocide.
In January 2008, the BBC broadcast a segment in their “The Things We Forgot to Remember,” featuring Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen, among others, speaking about the 1943-1945 Bengal famine in which 6-7 million people perished when the price of rice doubled, and then finally quadrupled. However, that famine, as now, was not caused by a food deficit per say, but rather by the callous politics in the area at the time.
Personally, one of the things that bother me most after reading through multiple articles on this issue, are the frequent references to the need for “higher yield crops,” rather than the development of sustainable agriculture. Although the names of any particular biotech companies are never mentioned, it walks, talks and reeks like poorly cloaked Monsanto propaganda.
Monsanto’s Rich Harvest
Monsanto’s genetically altered seeds tripled their first-quarter earnings, from $90 million to $256 million, according to BusinessWeek in January 2008. Their GM seeds have been a prime beneficiary of the growing demand for food and alternative fuel sources.
I have a sinking feeling that Monsanto will eventually ride in like a knight in shining armor, offering to end the world-wide plight with its high-yield spawn – those one-time-use-only seeds with dubious genetic signatures that may or may not kill anything that’s left. They already began that project in mid-2007, with the Gates and Rockefeller foundations donating $150 million worth of GMO crops to “reform agriculture and end hunger in Africa.”
That would surely be one of the absolute worst case scenarios we could possibly face, as GM crops are bound to do far more harm than good, both to the biodiversity of the planet and your individual health, through the unchecked introduction of foreign genetic material and hardier pests.
What Can You Do to Help Yourself?
There are certainly no easy answers to these world-wide issues. However, I do believe it’s possible to act as positively as you can on an individual basis.
As Ms. Sheeran stated, the initial response of the middle-class to the current situation is to cut out medical care. Unfortunately, for many this equates to doing virtually nothing to maintain their health, instead of focusing on healthy alternatives and preventive measures. Don’t fall into that category, folks! There is still much you can do to optimize your health that doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Here are a few tips and guidelines to keep in mind: