Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dead Children: The Consequences of Corporate and Wall Street Greed

Currently, food aid is now at its lowest in 20 years. Tens of millions of the world's poor will starve as rich nations cut or cancel food aid funding in the next few weeks.

Big business and the enormous influence of corporate lobbyists not only undermines democracy, its overwhelming authority often results in dead children (must read) around the globe.

Why? U.S. food aid policy lines the pockets of corporate America - the agricultural and the shipping industry - instead of feeding the starving populations they are supposed to serve.

Current policy requires that at least 75% of food aid has to be grown and packaged in the U.S., and then transported using U.S. vessels. Most countries donate cash as food aid as it offers greater flexibility and enables the recipient populations to get more for their money.

While it's no secret that our economic system is based on profit motive, even when it comes to basic necessities, it's unsettling, to say the least, that profit motivation is the driving force behind programs created to help starving people around the world.

"We prefer cash donations as they offer us greater flexibility -- with cash donations we can purchase locally, enjoy greater flexibility and also speed things up. We can get more for the money if we have cash. We can do the job faster as cash lets us buy the right food we need at the right time." - Richard Lee, a spokesman for the United Nation's World Food Programme.
In 2007, humanitarian and food advocacy organizations called on Congress to rewrite food aid policy. Even George W. Bush proposed that 25% of the food aid be cash, available to buy crops locally for the people who need it. Congress failed to act, fully embodying MLK's description of the kind of men our economic system, that - as he says, "permits necessities to be taken from the many to give luxuries to the few" - produces: "...small hearted men to become cold and conscienceless so that, like Dives before Lazarus, they are unmoved by suffering, poverty-stricken humanity."

Sharp increases in global food prices and shipping costs, doubling over the last two years, the impact on food aid groups has been enormous.
"U.S. farm and shipping lobbyists have stifled efforts to simplify aid deliveries, leaving Africans to starve when they might have been saved." -- Andrew Natsios, a professor at Georgetown University in Washington who led USAID, the Agency for International Development, from 2001 to 2006.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports the minimum for avoiding malnourishment is 1,800 calories per day. The food supply that finally arrived "was enough to supply about 1,300 calories a day for a month." To put it in perspective, the average American consumes more than 3,700.

Many fear a return to the conditions of 1984 and 1985, when famines in Ethiopia killed more than 1 million people. During that time, according to Haylar Ayako, the Ethiopian farmer, who recently lost seven grandchildren, “Some people survived eating the wastes of their cattle, some even the skins of their cattle.”

Well, at least, as a Christian country, we live up to Christian principles, such as taking from the poverty-stricken to provide for the greedy, wealthy evil-doers. That is what Jesus preached, right?

The World Food Programme feeds nearly 100 million people a year.

There is some hope: Plumpy'nut . A French scientist trying to fight malnutrition discovered the answer at his own breakfast table.


Anonymous,  17:12  

Regarding Bush. I believe he knew Congress would not pass his proposal so he cashed in on the opportunity to look like the good guy for once.

It's so out of character.

Anonymous,  22:19  

You don't know that. For some reason Bush is uncharacteristically generous with Africa.

Roth's stepchild 01:56  

It is so out of character for Bush, but I guess anything's possible. I have to admit I go with the "looking like the good guy for once" motive, although that's not really in character either.

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