While most of us remember making mud pies as a childhood pastime, some mothers in Haiti have been serving them as a main course.
Ironically, many of these women were once rice farmers themselves. But in the 1980s, U.S.-grown rice began pouring into Haiti. Thanks to federal subsidies, the imported rice was sold for less than what it cost to grow it. Haitian farmers just couldn’t compete.
Neither could millions of other farmers around the world, who have been bankrupted by the influx of rice, corn, and wheat from the U.S., Europe and Japan. These farmers have gone from growing their own food and feeding their countries to having to buy food that’s priced on a global market. Now that these commodity markets have spiked, millions of more families cannot afford to eat.
The root cause of the food crisis is not scarcity, but the failed economic policies long championed by the G8, namely, trade liberalization and industrial agriculture. These policies, which treat food as a commodity rather than a human right, have induced chaotic climate change, oil dependency, and the depletion of the Earth’s land and water resources as well as today’s food crisis.
Yet, in the search for solutions, the G8 is considering expanded support for the very measures that caused this web of problems. Calls for more tariff reductions, biofuel plantations, genetically modified crops, and wider use of petroleum-based fertilizers and chemical pesticides are at the forefront of discussions in Japan.
I read a comment on a website today that claimed our country has no poor because you don’t see children playing on garbage piles. As though a lack of decent housing, food. clothing were of no consequence. This person felt that all could live a wealthy existence with a little effort. The lack of both knowledge and compassion in those few words was astounding.
As we become more and more comfortable with the idea of those basics necessary for human survival (food, water, shelter, could air be far behind?) as commodities, those commodities are becoming more scarce and harder to afford. We have appropriated human rights, dignity and survival and replaced it with a false claims that it is acceptable to allow people to die and that their deaths are due to their own moral failings.
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