Dignity, Bread and Liberty; the start of peak food revolutions

Published on openEconomy, by Mike Small, 4 February 2011.

What has changed the placid Egyptian population into a boiling mass of revolt? … //

Nouriel Roubini

  • who was among the first to predict the financial crisis and was dubbed a Cassandra for his troubles in 2005 – urges us not just to look at the crowds in Cairo, but what is motivating them now, after years of silence and repression?
  • He agrees that the dramatic rise in energy and food prices has become a major global threat and a leading factor that has gone largely unreported in the coverage of events in Egypt.
  • If we take Roubini’s advice and look at underlying motives or para-economics we can see deeper issues. Is it too speculative to see the 25 January revolt as the first food revolution as fuelled by peak oil? Oil prices affect food prices when you have a petro-chemical food economy.
  • Egypt’s not unique in all this. World food prices hit a new record high in January after rising for a seventh consecutive month, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said today (Feb 3 2011), warning the poor would be hit hardest.
  • The FAO Food Price Index, which monitors monthly price changes for a basket of commodities, averaged 231 points in January – up 3.4 percent from December and its highest level since FAO started measuring food prices in 1990. 
  • None of this is new. In 2008 food riots swept across Africa with protests in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mauritania and Senegal. In most of West Africa the price of food has risen by 50%. Nor is this a phenomenon closed to ‘poor helpless Africa’. In the USA there was a 41% surge in prices for wheat, corn, rice and other cereals over six months in 2008.
  • As we stand in solidarity with the Egyptian people, we should also not allow this crisis in food democracy to be allowed to become a trojan horse for westernised ’solutions’ to hunger. Food Sovereignty is required not food security or the bogus techno-fix of GM. This is a political problem reflecting an unsustainable global food system ill-equipped to withstands the difficulties of climate change and collapsing institutions of governance.  (full text).

: Nouriel Roubini’s Website: global economics, the logic of the global economy.

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