This site focuses on the vital importance of food and water provision in this country and worldwide – and this reminder will be repeated until there are clear signs that governments are acting accordingly.
At present DEFRA’s policy, cited in the FT, is for government to help the farming ‘industry’ to become more competitive by opening up global food markets to export our produce.
Earlier this year, the FT referred to a report presented at the NFU annual conference, which pointed to an “alarming” drop in Britain’s ability to feed itself and called on the government to reverse the trend with a boost to investment, especially in research and development.
The country’s self-sufficiency in homegrown food has dropped from 80% in 1980 to 62% and is heading further downwards to 53% in 2040 on current trends. Meurig Raymond, NFU president and a Pembrokeshire arable farmer, spoke of the need to import food which was leaving the UK increasingly at the mercy of volatile world markets.
Peter Wahl whose thinking we have featured on this site, works on issues of world trade and international finance with the (World Economy, Ecology & Development, WEED) a German policy institute based in Bonn. He calls for the closure of the ‘global casino’ which speculates in food and animal feed, quoting George Soros: “Speculators . . . increase prices with their expectations, with their bets on the future, and their activities distort prices, especially in the commodities sector. And that is just like secretly hoarding food during a hunger crisis in order to make profits from increasing prices.” Wahl continues:
“The price excesses are a threat to food security and thus one of the basic human rights: the right to freedom from hunger and malnutrition.
“Speculation would then be restricted to its security function (hedging) for buyers and sellers, and the formation of speculation bubbles would be prevented. Political will is decisive for this to be achieved. The chances are not too illusory. The present crash has shaken the financial markets so that the casino-capitalism which has emerged since the end of the Bretton Woods system has been discredited to an unprecedented extent”.
Wahl emphasises that far-reaching political change is not out of reach any more:
“This offers a unique opportunity to civil society . . . to exert corresponding political pressure and present proposals on a development-friendly restructuring of the financial system. Civil society should not just suggest reforms in line with the market. This crash of financial market capitalism – which has spread rapidly across the whole globe since Bretton Woods – requires a more far-reaching answer.
“The ideology that the markets are best left to regulate themselves has finally completely disgraced itself before history. Now, this is no longer a question of making the casino safer for the players – but only of closing it down”.