Friday 16 May 2008

Feeding us bull

It's open season on fat people again. First we were accused of being a drain on the NHS - creating a moral panic which led to reactionary policies, from a reduction in choice for school meals and the banning of certain foods from school lunch boxes, through to the threat of overweight people being denied NHS treatment. Well, now we're accused of being responsible for the rising food and oil prices (BBC News: Obese blamed for the world's ills). We'll be responsible for the assassination of Princess Diana next :-P

I'll deal with the oil situation in the next blog article. As for the food prices, there are a number of reasons for the hyper-inflation of food prices - none of which are due to obesity!

One reason is reduced crop yields, partly due to the negative effects of climate change, from droughts and increased desertification on the one hand, to floods caused by increasingly violent storms (as seen by the recent cyclone in Burma) on the other. Climate change can only be dealt with by reducing our dependency on fossil fuels, by reducing car use and moving towards renewable energy - as I will deal with in more detail in my next article.

Crop yields have also been reduced in some areas due to soil erosion as a result of monoculture - the growing of the same crop year after year. Many third world countries are forced by debt to grow cash crops which they can then export; to hell not only with feeding their own people but also with protecting their own environment :-( The solution - drop all third world debt NOW!

Monoculture has also depleted the natural nutrients in large areas of arable land, necessitating the increased use of fertilisers, not to mention environmentally damaging pesticides and herbicides. A far more efficient, not to mention ecologically sound, system would be to use a form of crop rotation, ie growing different crops on different land at different times. Crop rotation was used successfully even in the Middle Ages, but with current technology allowing soil sampling and analysis, and an increased range of potential crops available for planting, it would almost certainly be even more viable today. But it would require collective ownership and cultivation of the land, and its use to grow food etc. for human need and not cash crops for private profit.

Even in the UK, farmers have moved away from growing food because they have been paid very little for it - due to the stranglehold of the big supermarkets, which take unfair advantage of their market dominance as a buyer of produce and pay the farmers as little as they can. Then they take unfair advantage of their market dominance as a seller, charging the consumer as much as they can get away with. And then they pocket the difference, in the form of fat profits. No wonder then, farmers in the UK, as well as abroad, are switching to non-food crops - notably for biofuels. (The biofuels situation will be covered in more detail also in my next article).

Finally, the rising price of foodstuffs (due to the above factors) has been massively amplified by hoarding and speculation. With a recession looming and the property market already in recession, investors have moved towards investing in commodities. With the food price rising, food is seen as a good investment, and to hell with those who now can't afford to eat it :-(

There is still more than enough food to go round. If people are at risk of starvation, it has nothing to do with fat people.

But it has everything to do with fat cats, and the capitalist system which does their bidding!

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