Stop food speculation. Play snake. | World Development Movement

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Stop food speculation. Play snake.

By Vaidehee Sachdev, 21 August 2013

I abandoned my Nokia 6210 way back in the late 90’s and with it the irritatingly addictive game of what I used to call snake-bot (it’s not a snake because it doesn’t wriggle and like a robot because it’s so rigid– snake-bot). However, WDM’s reconstruction of the classic version ahead of the climax to their food speculation campaign has me craving the slender streamlines of my 5 inch Nokia once more. 

photo credit: Jamesshm26

Nostalgia is also a cruel beast, not only has the game forced me to reminisce after my 16-year old life, but has me harking back to the days when I could spend a £1 of my pocket money on a packet of crisps, a bar of chocolate and a can of pop and be left with some money to spare! To my desolation, this is now no longer possible. The price of food has indeed increased. But if I think the price of my junk food staples are shocking, then I would do well to consider the price increase of the raw ingredients that went into producing them. 

Whilst we would all accept that is it a scandal that over 4million people in the UK are living in food poverty, the situation is even more polarising in countries which use staple grains both as a source of nutrition and also as feed for livestock. 

In some parts of Malawi maize went up by 135% between June 2012 and June 2013 and the price of wheat in El Salavador (San Salavador) went up by 95% in the same period. The fluctuating price of wheat, sugar and other staple foods has forced millions more into poverty and pushed many countries to seek food aid. 

Market in Malawi - Photo credit: IFPRI-IMAGES

Whilst there are many factors affecting the global prices of food (these include poor harvests owing to climatic changes, conflict in producing regions, use of crops for biofuel, etc), there is no doubt that market fundamentals are not the only factor affecting global food prices. 

One other factor is the toxic role played by financial speculators, those that have no physical relationship to the agricultural commodity they are investing in but who respond to market fundamentals and see an opportunity to make a quick profit. In essence, investors have been treating commodity markets (which include fuel and food products) as if they were stocks, betting on their price increasing. The sheer volume of money being invested by these financial actors has had a massive impact on the price of food products and created the spikes and crashes of the 2007-2008, and 2010-2011. 

We need to ensure that these price shocks do not happen again. 

WDM, backed by a growing community of commentators and professionals, has long campaigned against food speculation with the consensus being that the role played by the financial sector has been both reckless and wholly destructive to the lives of millions. 

We are now calling for your support as we enter the last stages our campaign to curb food speculation.

On 4 September, the EU is meeting to agree new rules on food speculation and faces the tough opposition from the financial sector who resist any new regulations that curb their investment activities. 

To support us we encourage you to play our snake game. With each level you will direct some barrier tape to contain the banks and restrict their speculation. 

After playing, we ask that you sign up to lengthen our own barrier tape which we will use to demonstrate for tighter EU policy on financial investment into commodity and food markets, in Brussels at the 4 September meeting.  Each person who signs up will lengthen the tape by 10cm, strengthening the public voice against food speculation. 

So this is the best way to keep up the pressure on the decision makers in Brussels and indulge in a little light nostalgia at the same time. 

Play the snake game and take action now

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