Food campaign news
What do the Pope, Starbucks and peasant movements have in common?
An Italian connection? The Pope may be a big hitter over there, and the small-scale food producers’ movement La Via Campesina has Italian members. But Starbucks is yet to get a toehold. I’m reliably informed (by Yahoo Answers, c. 2006) that Italians call Starbucks’ coffee “dirty water”.
Is it that they’re all on Twitter? The Pope recently celebrated his 140-character debut, Starbucks offers “freshly brewed tweets”… but La Via Campesina has a fragmented presence, reflecting its grassroots make-up.
So, they’re global empires? Well, La Via Campesina represents 200 million members – perhaps not quite in the same league as the billion-strong Catholic Church or Starbucks, which last week reported a $3 billion turnover.
The answer is…
All of them are calling for action to curb financial speculation on food, which is driving up food prices and pushing more people into hunger and poverty.
Last month the man in the Vatican asked, "How can we ignore the fact that food has become an object of speculation … in a financial market that, lacking in clear rules and moral principles, seems anchored on the sole objective of profit?”
In May, Starbucks’ CEO complained that, "Without any real supply or demand issues we are witness to the fact that [prices of] most food commodities are at record highs at once, and coffee is at a 34-year high. Through financial speculation ... the commodities market is in a very unfortunate position.”
La Via Campesina beat them to it, saying last year that “Financial speculation has been widely recognised as the major cause of the food crisis of 2007-2008” and must be stopped to prevent another food crisis. Civil society groups as diverse as the Korean Women Peasant Movement, Indonesia Farmers’ Union and of course the World Development Movement have also helped to put the issue on the agenda.
Another top five anti-speculation champions
1. “Speculation on basic food stuffs is a scandal when there are a billion people starving in the world” - Michel Barnier, the European commissioner leading efforts to crack down on speculation
2. “Food seems to be so trendy in the investment world… The markets seem to me to have a bubble-like quality” - chief economist of Goldman Sachs, Jim O’Neill
3. “If we do nothing, we risk having food riots in the poorest countries and also an unfavourable impact on global growth. We want regulation of the financial markets for commodities” - French president Nicolas Sarkozy
4. “The world’s wealthiest speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of hundreds of millions of innocent people. They gambled on increasing starvation, and won” - journalist Johann Hari.
5. “Food commodities are too important to be played about with by day traders and speculators” - National Farmers’ Union of Scotland
Discover who else has spoken out against speculation. Are there people or organisations we’ve missed? What should we expect from other G20 member countries like Argentina, or the new head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation?
Take action to stop financial speculation causing hunger.