Monsanto has been trying to take over Africa’s cotton for decades with their patented, genetically modified (GM) seed. Not without irony, Burkina Faso is just one of the African countries that has been wary of any of Monsanto’s GM seed, adding to the credo, ‘better off dead, than GM fed,’ when it came to accepting U.S. food aid that was primarily genetically altered. Africa’s biggest cotton grower in Burkina Faso is now phasing out Monsanto’s GM cotton and returning to indigenous varieties by 2018, due to concerns of cross-contamination of local crops and the less-than-stellar performance of Monsanto’s Bt variety.
Burkina Faso’s cotton association is seeking 48.3 billion CFA francs ($83.91 million) in compensation from U.S. seed company Monsanto after it said genetically modified cotton led to a drop in quality, association members said on Monday.
Cotton is the second-biggest source of revenue for the impoverished West African country after gold.
For the second time in nearly two years, the government of the West African nation of Burkina Faso was taken over by a military coup early Thursday morning. The transitional government that had been established by the military, following the overthrow of President Blaise Compaoré in 2014, has been abolished. However, the perpetrators of this coup aren’t ordinary soldiers. They are Compaore’s former presidential guard, who act independently of the regular military.
– Burkina Faso army announces dissolution of govt, parliament (RT, Oct 31, 2014):
Burkina Faso’s army has announced the dissolution of the country’s National Assembly and the establishment of a new transitional governing body after nearly two days of opposition protests outside government buildings.
“A transitional body will be put in place in consultation with all parties. A return to the constitutional order is expected in no more than 12 months,” General Honore Traore told a news conference on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, a state of emergency was declared in the capital, Ouagadougou.
Wastewater is most commonly used to produce vegetables and cereals (especially rice), according to this and other IWMI reports, raising concerns about health risks for consumers, particularly of vegetables that are consumed uncooked.
As developing countries confront the first global food crisis since the 1970s as well as unprecedented water scarcity, a new 53-city survey conducted by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) indicates that most of those studied (80 percent) are using untreated or partially treated wastewater for agriculture.
In over 70 percent of the cities studied, more than half of urban agricultural land is irrigated with wastewater that is either raw or diluted in streams.
Scientists and international organizations focused on controlling wheat stem rust have said 90 percent of world wheat lines are susceptible to Ug99. The situation is particularly critical in light of the existing worldwide wheat shortage.
Word of the new wheat disease comes amid global shortages of rice and wheat resulting from typhoon-related flooding in Java, Bangladesh, and India and from agricultural pests and diseases in Vietnam. Last year Australia suffered its second consecutive year of severe drought and a near complete crop failure, heavy rains reduced production in Europe, Argentina suffered heavy frost, and Canada and the U.S. both produced low yields.
Food riots have broken out in Egypt, Haiti and several African states, including Mauritania, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Senegal in recent months.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Source: World Tribune
There is a time for food, and a time for ethical appraisals. This was the case even before Bertolt Brecht gave life to that expression in Die Driegroschen Oper. The time for a reasoned, coherent understanding for the growing food crisis is not just overdue, but seemingly past. Robert Zoellick of the World Bank, an organization often dedicated to flouting, rather than achieving its claimed goal of poverty reduction, stated the problem in Davos in January this year. ‘Hunger and malnutrition are the forgotten Millennium Development Goal.’
Global food prices have gone through the roof, terrifying the 3 billion or so people who live off less than $2 a day. This should terrify everybody else. In November, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization reported that food prices had suffered a 18 percent inflation in China, 13 percent in Indonesia and Pakistan, and 10 percent or more in Latin America, Russia and India. The devil in the detail is even more distressing: a doubling in the price of wheat, a twenty percent increase in the price of rice, an increase by half in maize prices.
We need to overturn food policy, now!
For some time now the rising cost of food all over the world has taken households, governments and the media by storm. The price of wheat has gone up by 130% over the last year. Rice has doubled in price in Asia in the first three months of 2008 alone, and just last week it hit record highs on the Chicago futures market. For most of 2007 the spiralling cost of cooking oil, fruit and vegetables, as well as of dairy and meat, led to a fall in the consumption of these items. From Haiti to Cameroon to Bangladesh, people have been taking to the streets in anger at being unable to afford the food they need. In fear of political turmoil, world leaders have been calling for more food aid, as well as for more funds and technology to boost agricultural production. Cereal exporting countries, meanwhile, are closing their borders to protect their domestic markets, while other countries have been forced into panic buying. Is this a price blip? No. A food shortage? Not that either. We are in a structural meltdown, the direct result of three decades of neoliberal globalisation.
Farmers across the world produced a record 2.3 billion tons of grain in 2007, up 4% on the previous year. Since 1961 the world’s cereal output has tripled, while the population has doubled. Stocks are at their lowest level in 30 years, it’s true, but the bottom line is that there is enough food produced in the world to feed the population. The problem is that it doesn’t get to all of those who need it. Less than half of the world’s grain production is directly eaten by people. Most goes into animal feed and, increasingly, biofuels – massive inflexible industrial chains. In fact, once you look behind the cold curtain of statistics, you realise that something is fundamentally wrong with our food system. We have allowed food to be transformed from something that nourishes people and provides them with secure livelihoods into a commodity for speculation and bargaining. The perverse logic of this system has come to a head. Today it is staring us in the face that this system puts the profits of investors before the food needs of people.
“Children will be suffering from malnutrition” … a UN peacekeeper with locals in Port-au-Prince,
where hunger-provoked protests and looting have left six dead. Photo: AP
THE poorest countries face starvation and civil unrest if global food prices keep rising, says the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Hundreds of thousands of people would starve, he said in Washington. “Children will be suffering from malnutrition, with consequences for all their lives.”
He predicted that rising food prices would push up the cost of imports for poor countries, leading to trade imbalances that might also affect developed nations.
“It is not only a humanitarian question,” he said.
Global food prices have risen sharply in recent months, driven by rising demand, poor weather and an increase in the area of land used to grow crops for biofuels.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says 37 countries face food crisis. The president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, urged members on Sunday to provide $US500 million ($540 million) by May 1 to help alleviate the problem.
KABUL, April 14 (Reuters) – Impoverished Afghans struggling with rising wheat prices are not expected to get any relief soon with no sign prices are going to come down, a United Nations official said on Monday.
Top finance and development officials from around the world called in Washington on Sunday for urgent action to stem rising food prices, warning that social unrest will spread unless the cost of basic staples is contained.
Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest countries with half its 25 million people living below the poverty line.
Wheat prices in Afghanistan have risen by an average of 60 percent over the last year with certain areas seeing a rise of up to 80 percent, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said.
Rice shortages are appearing across Asia. In Egypt, the Army is now baking bread to curb food riots.
Rice farmers here are staying awake in shifts at night to guard their fields from thieves. In Peru, shortages of wheat flour are prompting the military to make bread with potato flour, a native crop. In Egypt, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso food riots have broken out in the past week.