The Great Food Robbery

Text of leaflet for May 6th. please come and support!

Taking a rise out of us1

Figures released recently by the Trussell Trust reveal that “Almost 350,000 people have received at least three days emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks during the last 12 months, nearly 100,000 more than anticipated and close to triple the number helped in 2011-12..” The number needing food has trebled in a year and is expected to continue to rise! Foodbanks are opening at the rate of one a week!

 Of 2,000 mothers surveyed by Netmums “1 in 5 regularly go without meals to feed their children, 16% are being treated for stress-related illnesses and one third are borrowing money from friends and family to stay afloat. Most mothers stated that their situation is worse than a year ago with less money coming in.”

Prices of bread, milk, eggs and many other food items have shot up.

It’s not just here that people are facing hunger. Everyday millions worry about where their next meal is coming from. The prices of many basic and staple foods have soared- wheat, rice, maize, soya beans have doubled in the last year or so. Every day 25,000 people die of hunger and many others have their health affected because of malnutrition. These figures will rise with ever increasing food prices.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development  made the prediction “the number of food-insecure people in the world would rise by more than 16 million for every percentage point increase in the real prices of staple foods, meaning that 1.2 billion people could be chronically hungry by 2025”.

The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) also warned that it would be forced to ration food aid as soaring costs aggravate the situation.

The media are busy peddling the idea that this is due to poor harvests and they’re eager to make us believe that. It’s true that the effects of climate change have either reduced or wiped out basic food harvests particularly in the developing countries, reducing supply.

But what has really happened is that speculation on the world’s markets has caused prices to rise, in a rush to make profits. So quality wheat prices rose 25 per cent in one day because of panic buying on the world markets.

Equally the situation has been aggravated by the shift from growing food to growing biofuels. Over the last five years this increased massively with 400 million tonnes of maize production moved from food to biofuels.

These biofuels have been put forward as a replacement for petrol, coal and other fossil fuels, as some sort of “green” replacement. In reality they themselves cause environmental damage. But they are big money spinners and as a result there is a rush to invest in them. So grain prices go up AND vast areas of farmland that could be used to grow food are given over to them. This is actively encouraged by both the UK and US governments.

As well as this, agribusinesses are hoarding food and controlling food markets in order to ride out price rises. In turn the big supermarkets are taking advantage by introducing disproportionate price rises on food.

Finally, the rising cost of oil which is used both in the production of food and its transport is adding to the cost of food.

There is enough food to feed everyone adequately. The thirst for profit has caused this situation. Under the present system and its law of supply and demand if demand outstrips supply then prices increase.

  • 400% – Rise in the price of spring wheat over the last year
  • 75% – Average world food price rise since 2005
  • 16 million more people at risk of food insecurity for every percentage point rise in the price of staple foods
  • 33% – Amount of maize harvested in US in 2012 that went to produce biofuels

Food prices were some of the causes for unrest in Algeria and Tunisia in the recent Arab Spring there and they were a direct cause of unrest in Mozambique. As the situation worsens, we are going to see more food riots and demonstrations, more mass movements emerging around the world. That should be here too. WE can feed everyone on the planet, but not under this rotten and corrupt system based on the lust for profit and power.

Printed and published by Anarchist Federation (London) BM ANARFED LONDON WC1N 3XX

       www.afed.org.uk          London@afed.org.uk

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