Center for World Indigenous Studies
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The Politics of Hunger

Published: October 19, 2008, Author: MHirch

“Hunger is a political problem. We have enough food. It is not a question of doubling the amount of supermarkets. The question is how much money it takes to buy food,” recently explained in a Berlin speech Olivier de Schutter, a law professor, human rights campaigner and the UN’s new top advisor on food.

Sure, hunger comes from too little food being available. Most important is the question: Why is not enough food available?
According to one view hunger is seen as a technical problem. To fight hunger food production has to be increased.
Others, like Olivier de Schutter, clearly see the problem of hunger in the lack of purchasing power. As could be seen during the great Bengal famine 1942-43 during which around 4 million people died from starvation and malnutrition. There was enough food available. Due to exports of food and appropriation of arable land, however, food prices soared and people did not have enough income needed to buy the food.

The response to hunger must be: protection of rights, empowerment, accountability.
Not availability. Affordability is the problem. The widening gap between what producers get and what consumers pay is
widening around the world. Production of food has to raise the income
of small farmers who compose 50% of the worlds’ hungry.

Ethical arguments are not needed in this discussion. They cannot change anything. Markets are not moral entities but figures and numbers for banks and investors. We need regulations and laws to assure access to good foods as a basic human right. Otherwise there will be still many more people suffering on the ground.

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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