Sunday, April 27, 2008

The 'futures' of food


"Last week, French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier warned E.U. officials against "too much trust in the free market."

"We must not leave the vital issue of feeding people," he said, "to the mercy of market laws and international speculation."

This article paints a global picture of how money markets, 'with a blip on a computer screen,' shifted toward the open waters of commodity grain trading after the sub-prime mortgage crisis. "Food became the new hundreds of millions of investment dollars funneled into grain futures."

What are futures? These are investment products that place bets on commodity prices, will they go up? or will they go down? Seems harmless enough, but in actuality the futures market has a great deal to do with the current spikes in petrol and food - all from speculation.

For instance, we may have a surplus of fuel and no real interruption happening in the pipelines that bring us our precious oil - but if a few futures traders read the news that there was some name calling between our President and the President of some large oil producing country let's say, this information is used to drive up prices...merely on the hint of some issue that may never actually cause fuel prices to go up naturally.

In the commodity trading of grains, yes there has been a lot of contributing factors - from Australian drought, to an unhealthy shift in Ethanol and (inefficient) bio-fuel demands, but overall, across the planet there is actually plenty enough food to go how can we reconcile those who wish to turn greater profits from their hundreds of millions invested, with those struggling to feed a family of 3 for less than a dollar a day?

Profits are great! Who doesn't love to earn money from an honest days work, even it means making money off of bets made in a gilded casino overlooking global markets. But what will that money buy when the panic and turmoil leaves no place on earth untouched by hunger pains?

Industrial Hemp to the rescue! We need to cultivate this wonderful, life sustaining plant and nurture its gifts of protein, oil, fiber and textiles. Developing nations and our first world countries need to act immediately in growing plants such as hemp that can feed their populations for pennies, helping to alleviate the financial burdens that world food prices are causing.

Again, there are no shortages of food, only shortages of rationality and common sense.

Peace, Love and Organics,
Your Hippy Gourmet Family

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