The Partnership for Global Justice, a network of religious congregations, other groups and individuals, have issued their June alert. This time the issue is the global food crisis. The food crisis is not simply a food shortage, but the result of a complex combination of factors that make it difficult to understand and to address.
Root Causes and Contributing Factors in the World Food Crisis
Weather: Weather related droughts, crop failures and erratic temperatures reduce yields and restrict supply, driving prices up.
Weak U.S. Dollar: A weak dollar is increasing commodity speculation driving up prices. Also, U.S. food aid dollars don’t go as far.
Trade Policies: Export demand and growing cash crops for export leave people in developing countries at greater risk of hunger.
Rising Fuel Prices: Record-high prices for oil increase farming and transportation costs, which are passed on to consumers.
Increased Poverty: More people are seeking food assistance and are very vulnerable to price fluctuations.
Biofuels: More farmers are growing crops for fuel rather than for food. Demand for corn as fuel continues to increase and restricts the amount of corn used or exported for food.
U.S. Crop Subsidies: Subsidies make it impossible for farmers in developing countries to compete with U.S. food commodities. They stop growing their own food supplies and rely on imports. Farmers leave the farm in search of work.
Trade Restrictions: Some countries ban exports of certain crops in order to keep domestic prices low. This restricts supply on the world market.
Inflation: Globally, an increase in the money supply pushes prices upward. In several developing countries, inflation has been a growing problem, pricing food out of reach. (Bill Griffin, CFX from http://www.educationforjustice.org)
SUGGESTED ACTIONS – Choose one or more of the following:
- Organize a food drive for your parish or in your neighborhood.
- Volunteer at a local soup kitchen.
- Go to http://www.freerice.com . For each vocabulary word you get correct, this site donates 20 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program.
- Read Mark 6: 33-44 and reflect on the following: 1) In light of the recent food crisis, what are you hearing in a new way in this passage? 2) How can you be bread for others? What actions can you take to respond with a gospel vision to those who are hungry in your own community and around the world.
- Learn more about world food distribution, agricultural policies, global trade and what is happening to farmers in your country. Suggested sources of info: http://www.fao.org (UN Food and Agriculture Organization), http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/globalfoodcrisis/ and http://crs.org (Catholic Relief Services)
- Send a donation to a member of your congregation who works directly with the poor
People all over the world are being affected by the rising cost of food. The poor are suffering the most. Today the Passionists joined 270 other religious organizations signing a declaration calling on the United Nations High-Level Conference on Food Security to be held next week in Rome to launch a long term, multi-stakeholder process of discussion and action at all levels. You can read the declaration at: http://www.jpicpassionist.org/English/DeclarationEng.htm