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3-Food: The Profits of Famine: Southern Africa's Long Decade of Hunger



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TITLE:  Food Policy Think Tank Releases a Report on Famine and Food Aid
        The Profits of Famine: Southern Africa's Long Decade of Hunger
SOURCE: Food First, USA
        http://www.foodfirst.org/media/press/2002/fallbackgrounder.html
DATE:   Dec 4, 2002

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Food Policy Think Tank Releases a Report on Famine and Food Aid
The Profits of Famine: Southern Africa's Long Decade of Hunger

(Oakland, Ca.) While Southern Africa remains in the grips of famine, 
Zambia, bucking intense international pressure, has rejected U.S. food aid 
containing genetically manipulated (GM) organisms, sending a clear signal 
that U.S. aid is part of the problem, according to a new report by Food 
First/Institute for Food and Development Policy.

In a slap to the United States and wealthy aid agencies, Zambia refused 
U.S. food aid because of its content of genetically modified corn, seeking 
instead food aid from regional sources. This action, while widely condemned 
by the U.S. government, has exposed how the U.S., the international 
financial institutions, and transnational corporations benefit through 
policies that make countries susceptible to famines.

"The U.S. government has a twenty-year history of first generating hunger 
through macro-economic policy that, while selling itself as "austere," 
systematically enriches large corporations and impoverishes working 
families," said Food First policy analyst Dr. Raj Patel, author of the 
report. "Then the government hen-feeds the hungry with the surplus food 
this policy produces."

The report details how the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund 
(IMF) exacerbate famine through structural adjustment programs that force 
indebted nations to pay down debt by cutting services for their citizens, 
exporting their crops, dismantling their crop reserves, and devaluing their 
currencies. While these mechanisms work to erode a country of its food 
sovereignty, it also aids the U.S. multinationals to pry open new markets 
for GM food that is banned in the European Union and Japan.

"The U.S. GM grain stockpile, created through the vast, ongoing subsidy of 
U.S. agriculture, needs a home," said Dr. Patel. "This grain cannot be sold 
to the E.U. or Japan because of their embargoes on genetically modified 
food for human consumption. The figures for U.S. farm exports tell the 
story: U.S. corn exports to the European Union shrank from $426 million in 
1995 to $1 million in 1999."

Zambia, in its choice of regional aid, has recognized that the problem is 
the lack of affordable food. In neighboring Lesotho there are no shortages 
of food in the markets, according to the World Food Program. Two-thirds of 
the population however, live below the poverty line and half are classified 
as destitute. In bypassing the U.S. aid industry and choosing regional 
markets for its grain, Zambia is regaining some control of its economy and 
farming system, according to the report. "The reason that Africans are 
starving now," said Dr. Patel, "is because they've been starving for over a 
decade."

The report also points to other regional developments that will assist 
Africa such as soil replenishment programs that are cheaper than fertilizer 
inputs from the U.S. and Europe. It also calls on civil society in the 
United States to become engaged in the political process by contacting 
their representatives to shut down the major trade and debt organizations 
while challenging the myths of famine propagated on mainstream media.

To read the full report, please visit: http://www.foodfirst.org/pubs/
backgrdrs/2002/f02v8n4.html.

For more information or to speak with the author of the report, please 
contact Nick Parker at (510) 654-4400, ext. 229.




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