Center of Concern | Thu, Nov 20, 2008
“What happened to the Food Crisis?” It’s a question that many of us working on global social justice have been asking ourselves since the Wall Street Bailout.
“What happened to the Food Crisis?” asked Mariama Williams at a panel discussion on “Trade, Aid and Conditionalities” at the 2008 Associate of Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) Forum. It’s a question that many of us working on global social justice have been asking ourselves since the Wall Street Bailout.
Earlier this year, news of global food shortages, of food riots in Senegal and Bangladesh, and of Haitians eating dirt patties because of lack of food finally reached those of us in the developed world. Many of us worked to expose the extent to which our governments and businesses, their policies, and their practices were implicated in this food crisis and called for the needs of those suffering to be addressed. The U.N estimated it would cost approximately $25 to $40 billion to soften the impact of rising food prices on the most vulnerable. Close to $20 billion was promised but by October only $1 billion had actually gone towards the promise.
Yet when those on Wall Street began to reap the results of the seeds of greed that they themselves sowed, the world paid immediate attention. Efforts were made in the U.S. and Europe to create immediate responses to the financial crisis. While their prescriptions are unimaginative and have given responsible parties virtual impunity for the disaster they created, at minimum a prescription was offered and accepted. The U.S. quickly found $700 billion to assist the corporations losing on Wall Street and much more is being given through new tax provisions and the creation of new tax and regulatory loopholes.
It’s amazing how quickly $700 billion was found to assist the Wall Street Giants, but $25-40 billion could not be found to feed the hungry around the world. This is disheartening as it brings to light how easily we ignore the plight of the poor around us and around the world, but the requests and desires of the affluent are met with immediate response.
“What happened to the Food Crisis” is a reminder that we must reexamine how we prioritize the needs of our brothers and sisters around the world.