The world’s most bountiful wheat harvest ever was in 2008 yet bread riots broke out in 33 countries, adding in that year another 250 million to those without enough to eat everyday — pushing the world’s “food insecure” to over 1 billion. Food as a percentage of total household consumption costs has reached 73% in Nigeria, 63% in Nigeria and 61% in the Ukraine. Bread riots in Egypt were preceded by the April 6, 2008 general strike of textile workers, who demanded higher wages to cope with wheat prices that had risen 130% (rice also went up 74%).
Egypt is the world’s leading wheat importer; the U.S. is the world’s top wheat exporter. The Goldman Sachs Commodity Index of 18 foodstuffs was created in 1991 to allow speculators to invest in financialized futures on ingredients like hard red spring wheat, the world’s most popular high-protein ingredient in bread. After the 2008 food bubble collapsed, 200 million bushels of wheat were sold for animal feed while hundreds of millions went hungry. As Asian countries become more affluent, they eat less rice and more meat and bread. EGT Corporation in Longview, Washington has built a rapid just-in-time grain delivery system to allow speculators to move wheat, corn and other grains for food and animal feed down global supply chains to growing markets in Asia. Japan is the world’s #1 corn importer; the U.S. is the #1 exporter. EGT is doing what Wal-Mart does, but in reverse. Multinational food giants like EGT monopolize commodities from the farms of North America to food consumers across the planet. This multimedia presentation of recent struggles will be followed by an open discussion of ways we can contribute to the decommodification of not only food, but our lives and society as well.
Co-presented by the INSANE DIALECTICAL POSSE & the Institute for the Critical Study of Society
1. "The Food Bubble: How Wall Street starved millions and got away with it" by Frederick Kaufman (available at: http://frederickkaufman.typepad.com/files/the-food-bubble-pdf.pdf
2. "It's the baladi, stupid" by Wendell Seavenson (available at: http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/wendell-steavenson-egypt-cairo/