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Vol. 73/No. 17      May 4, 2009

U.S. agriculture head says ‘food
scarcity’ is threat to stable world
Increasing social instability amid rising world hunger was a top concern at an April 18-20 meeting of agricultural ministers of the Group of Eight industrialized countries. The group gathered in Italy to discuss international food output and the political consequences of rising scarcity.

“This is not just about food security,” said U.S. agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack in an interview published in the April 20 Financial Times. “This is about national security, it is about environmental security,” he said. The article notes, “Washington’s worries about the global food crisis go well beyond its humanitarian implications.”

“I can figure out there are only three things that could happen if people do not have food: people could riot, that they have done; people migrate to places where there is food, which creates additional challenges; or people die,” said Vilsack.

In early 2008 riots over rising food prices took place around the semicolonial world, including in Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Haiti, and numerous parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Meanwhile, major food commodities traders hoarded stocks of corn, wheat, and soybeans equal to half the amount in all storage silos in the United States in order to keep the prices at a profitable level.

Profits in the first quarter of 2008 of agribusiness giants Monsanto, Cargill, and Bunge rose by 108 percent, 86 percent, and 1,964 percent respectively compared to the previous year.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair warned in February that the global economic crisis represented a greater threat to world security than “terrorism” or the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  
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