ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Right to Food versus Right to Profit

The world food summit in Rome failed to even recognise the basic problem, let alone remedy it.

Even as food is an essential biological need, under capitalism it is a commodity, where millions of people are excluded from consuming it simply because they do not have the purchasing power to buy it. Over the last two years there has been a rapid rise in the world prices of almost all basic foods – wheat, rice, maize, soybeans, edible oils – leading to a meteoric ascent of the incidence of hunger and malnutrition around the world. Food riots have erupted in various countries, in Bangladesh, Haiti, Mexico, the Philippines and elsewhere, giving rise to politi-calinstabilityand the threat of mass revolt that have rattled the power elite the world over. The three-day “High-Level Conference on FoodSecurity”, an emergency world food summit, convened by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, which ended in Rome on June 5, unfortunately failed to even recognise the basic problem, let alone try to remedy it.

The Rome food summit agreed to “respond urgently to requests for assistance from the affected countries” and to provide “immediate support for agricultural production and trade”. The hope was that the removal of trade restrictions by food-exporting countries (Vietnam, Cambodia and India made some promises to do so on rice) would significantly reduce world cereal prices. Sadly, the institution of social safety nets and the need to greatlyenhance its coverage were hardly discussed; nowhere do these measures, where they exist, come anywhere near to meet-ing the needs of those who need them the most.

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