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Forum Post: Feeding the World? Twelve Years Later, U.S. Grain Exports Are Up, So Too Is Hunger

Posted 2 years ago on Dec. 12, 2011, 6:46 p.m. EST by GirlFriday (21783)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

In 1999, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) published a groundbreaking report by Mark Muller and Richard Levins entitled Feeding the World? The Upper Mississippi River Navigation Project that examined agribusiness’ and the Mississippi River navigation industry’s claim that U.S. grain exports “feed the world.”1 At the time of the report’s publication, several multi-billion dollar proposals were in play to expand and upgrade the lock and dam system on the Mississippi River, proposals that would have worsened the river’s already fragile ecology, provided little benefit to Midwest farmers and rural communities, and resulted in millions of lost taxpayer dollars. The river navigation industry, led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the agribusiness interests that backed them, argued that expanding the export capacity of the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) was crucial to help Midwest grain farmers better “feed the world.” The data compiled by Muller and Levins, however, demonstrated that the overwhelming majority of U.S. grain exports were going to wealthy countries, not countries with the world’s most serious malnutrition problems. The paper demonstrated that the quasi-humanitarian “feed the world” argument was in fact only a ruse to encourage increased funding for unnecessary, wasteful UMR navigation projects.

Fast-forward to the present. The navigation industry is still pushing to expand the UMR’s navigation system (though they have failed in the last 12 years to get the necessary funding for new lock and dam construction). The assertion that U.S. agriculture serves to “feed the world” persists and is used to not only promote transportation systems, but to justify genetically modified crops, free trade agreements, environmental deregulations and a number of other agribusiness priorities [for an example, see “Feeding the World” box]. Food production globally is at an all-time high, but so too is the number of hungry people around the world.2 Since 1999, the world’s population has increased by a billion people and although grain yields and production are up in many places, those people living in the countries most affected by malnutrition are still not able to access the food they need. It’s very clear that a focus only on production, without consideration of poverty and food access impediments, will do little to nothing to alleviate hunger.

Given that context, does the premise Muller and Levins debunked in their report twelve years ago—that increasing the export capacity of the Mississippi River will have a positive effect on global food security—have more merit today than it did back then?

In a word, no. U.S. grain exports—including those that move down the Mississippi River—are up, but food security globally is in a state of crisis. Unfortunately we have made very little progress addressing the most important factor in improving global food security: providing opportunities for the world’s poor to generate an income that is adequate for feeding a family.

Let’s take a look at where things stand compared to 12 years ago. http://www.iatp.org/documents/feeding-the-world

32 Comments

32 Comments


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[-] 3 points by JeannyFrigide (11) 2 years ago

Article from Mother Jones: Because big food makes big finance look like amateurs : http://motherjones.com/environment/2011/10/food-industry-monopoly-occupy-wall-street

And I may not have all the answers to your post but how much US grain is exported as livestock feed? Grain that could feed the world's starving people is wastefully cycled through animals so the more affluent can have meat, leaving the poor to starve.

Three points:

  1. Land use: Vast tracts of land are being destroyed to fuel the world's growing addition to meat, dairy and eggs. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institute say that the equivalent of seven football fields is bulldozed every minute for animal agriculture. Hundreds of millions of acres of forests and rainforests worldwide have already been cleared for livestock grazing or animal feed crops, resulting in a loss of biodiversity and additional CO2 being released into the atmosphere.

  2. Inefficiency: Growing crops to feed animals is a very inefficient system that wastes valuable resources. It takes an average of 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of beef and takes 11 times as much fossil fuel to make 1 calorie from animal protein as 1 calorie from plant protein.

  3. Water usage: It takes an estimated 4,000 gallons of water to produce one day of animal-based food for the average American. One day of plant-based food only requires about 300 gallons. According to the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, "87 percent of the use of freshwater in the U.S. is used in agriculture, primarily irrigation." Worldwide, agriculture accounts for 93 percent of water depletion, with the vast majority of freshwater used for farm animal feed production. Factory farming wastes so much water that you can save as much water by not eating a pound of beef as you can by not showering for almost six months.

... from www.platetoplanet.org

[-] 4 points by GirlFriday (21783) 2 years ago

My interest in the above article is the number of ways that the money has been taken and used for another purpose and in this case for transportation. Now, while you may not know it, many of my posts early on have dealt with Big Agra, including factory farms (health/environmental/animal treatment) as well as the land grab in other countries which has led to some leaders of countries approval of massacring their own citizens. Now, that we have people that are finally paying attention to the ramifications of Big Agra then maybe we can pay attention to all of the other people who ride on the coattails of it.

Food prices have skyrocketed due to speculation. I keep posting this. The food riots that we have seen in other countries will happen here.

[-] 4 points by BlueRose (1437) 2 years ago

The silliness of diners who go without water to conserve it...How about you not eat that burger and save 25,000 gallons?

[-] 3 points by JeannyFrigide (11) 2 years ago

I agree! But I think the problem is that people are unaware, and it is up to every one of us to share the statistics.

[-] 2 points by Nevada1 (4024) 2 years ago

Good post.

[-] 0 points by Kirby (104) 2 years ago

People like beef, pork, mutton, chicken and turkey, etc. That said, if people with the means would raise their own, which is not difficult, it would save a lot on resources. We live in a rural area and zoning allows for it. We raise four or five hogs over the summer, allowing them to root around and dig, they eat grubs and acorns and brush. A few friends pitch in for feed and everyone gets a hog in October. Lean, healthy, happy. Our hogs die happy, having lived a nice existence.

[-] 2 points by Puzzlin (2898) 2 years ago

Good thread GirlFriday. You have presented a good case here. This issue is so important to our environment and the welfare of all the people on this planet. The population bomb is on us and we are over-growing our resources. The catastrophe is coming. People need to be aware of this!

Thanks!

[-] 2 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 2 years ago

Wheat has gone from $4 to $25 on Speculation alone! Stop Goldman Sachs from ripping off the world!!

Posted 23 hours ago on Dec. 9, 2011, 2:40 p.m. EST by fucorporatemedia This content is user submitted and not an official statement

from 2005 to 2008, the worldwide price of food rose 80 percent — and has kept rising.

http://occupywallst.org/forum/wheat-has-gone-from-4-to-25-on-speculation-alone-s/

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (21783) 2 years ago

Yep

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 2 years ago

Unite in common cause. Hate the things that are wrong in this world. Support each-other in making things right. This is where the healing will begin.

The Government of "The People" by "The People" for "The People"

We are the 99%. Take part in "The Peoples" Lobby.

Take action. See samples of how below.

195,747 signatures so far for Bernie Sanders petition as of 10:06am central time 01/26/2012

http://sanders.enews.senate.gov/mail/util.cfm?mailaction=clickthru&gpiv=2100081904.557411.411&gen=1&mailing_linkid=34578

The petition to save abandoned houses has 16 signatures. We picked one up at around 11:07am 01/16/2012. Were just rolling right along.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Savingpeople-savinghomes-payingdowntheNationaldeficit/

Now 22,063 signatures as of 10:08am central time 01/26/2012.

https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petition/re-establish-and-maintain-separation-between-investment-banks-and-commercial-banks/ywCMKDfn

Here is a place where you can directly address change. Take part, it does not hurt and may very well heal/help. Forward the cause of reform and rebirth.

http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/Ag8nw/zL2Q/B18Bb

Sierra Club has some good things to take part in as well. Set-up and ready for you to take part in. http://sierraclub.org/

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (21783) 2 years ago

Thanks, DKA.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 2 years ago

"You" are most welcome. I am just trying to bring people together as are you in common cause.

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (21783) 2 years ago

And you are doing an awesome job. :D

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 2 years ago

That's very nice of you to say. But I myself think I need more practice. Good thing I have a good Forum to practice-on and good people & causes to promote.

[-] 1 points by MonetizingDiscontent (1257) 2 years ago

~Great Post~

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (21783) 2 years ago

Thank you!!

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 2 years ago

Lobby the government. Your voice is a vote. Petitioning is lobbying. The Peoples Lobby. Take part, take action.

Forward environmental change. Your participation can make a difference.

http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/keystone_sotu/?id=33678-4904244-%3Dxzka6x&t=7

187,506 signatures so far for Bernie Sanders petition as of 9:48am central time 01/20/2012

http://sanders.enews.senate.gov/mail/util.cfm?mailaction=clickthru&gpiv=2100081904.557411.411&gen=1&mailing_linkid=34578

The petition to save abandoned houses has 16 signatures as of 01/20/2012. Were just rolling right along.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Savingpeople-savinghomes-payingdowntheNationaldeficit/

Here is a place where you can directly address change. Take part, it does not hurt and may very well heal/help. Forward the cause of reform and rebirth.

http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/Ag8nw/zL2Q/B18Bb

Sierra Club has some good things to take part in as well. Set-up and ready for you to take part in. http://sierraclub.org/

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 2 years ago

Forward environmental change.

http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/keystone_sotu/?id=33678-4904244-%3Dxzka6x&t=7

186,696 signatures so far for Bernie Sanders petition as of 10:22am central time 01/19/2012

http://sanders.enews.senate.gov/mail/util.cfm?mailaction=clickthru&gpiv=2100081904.557411.411&gen=1&mailing_linkid=34578

The petition to save abandoned houses has 16 signatures as of 01/19/2012 10:22am central time. Were just rolling right along.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Savingpeople-savinghomes-payingdowntheNationaldeficit/

Here is a place where you can directly address change. Take part, it does not hurt and may very well heal/help. Forward the cause of reform and rebirth.

http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/Ag8nw/zL2Q/B18Bb

Sierra Club has some good things to take part in as well. Set-up and ready for you to take part in. http://sierraclub.org/

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 2 years ago

Take action. See samples of how below.

183,361 signatures so far for Bernie Sanders petition as of 10:15am central time 01/15/2012

http://sanders.enews.senate.gov/mail/util.cfm?mailaction=clickthru&gpiv=2100081904.557411.411&gen=1&mailing_linkid=34578

The petition to save abandoned houses has 15 signatures. We picked one up at around 9:50pm 01/13/2012. Were just rolling right along.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Savingpeople-savinghomes-payingdowntheNationaldeficit/

Here is a place where you can directly address change. Take part, it does not hurt and may very well heal/help. Forward the cause of reform and rebirth.

http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/Ag8nw/zL2Q/B18Bb

Sierra Club has some good things to take part in as well. Set-up and ready for you to take part in. http://sierraclub.org/

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 2 years ago

Here is a place where you can directly address change. Take part, it does not hurt and may very well heal/help. Forward the cause of reform and rebirth.

http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/Ag8nw/zL2Q/B18Bb

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 2 years ago

Yeah. Whats up with that?

Is it like the money we throw at problems?

Is it being stuffed into somebodies war chest?

[-] 1 points by bill1102inf2 (357) 2 years ago

Grain is poison for animals, always has been, always will be. There is absolutely no need for grain other than to temporarily keep people from starving (africa) or to fatten up and make people sick (usa). Our factories might have been moved to China, but our new factories are McDonalds and BK and Walmart, pumping out diseased humans as fast as possible so that our GDP can increase from health care.

[-] 1 points by bill1102inf2 (357) 2 years ago

and Farmers getting rich selling poison is just preposterous, grain is just another US tangible asset like oil/nat gas/coal/thorium/gold/silver/uranium and other rare earth elements which should be nationalized and the profits used for good or to subsidize something actually healthy like grass fed meat or green leaf veggies. As it is now, the medical and pharm companies goal is to make $1.00 in profit for every $1.00 in grain sold to a US consumer. And they are well on their way. Grain should have a warning label 'Poison, only consume if nothing else is available'

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (21783) 2 years ago

Grass fed is the way to go and I wholeheartedly agree with you.

[-] 1 points by AFarewellToKings (1486) 2 years ago

Stored food (grain) is money. Always was. Money = security, something everyone wants their children to have. A hungry man is an angry man (Bob Marley)

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[-] 1 points by Censored (138) 2 years ago

Can you understand that 1) the world has more people now; 2) that people moving up the food chain to foods like cattle requires more grain?

Food "security" is in crisis because of poor governance, population growth, unrest, and water.

Food production at an all time yeah. You should check for yourself, but so is the POPULATION! The dummy posts on this OWS site are really interesting. God help us.

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (21783) 2 years ago

You really are a twit.

[-] 0 points by Censored (138) 2 years ago

Just facts. They don't line up with the left-wing demagogue bullshit, but they are what they are.

In many countries now, population is limited by family planning. But in many of the food "insecure" places, it remains the food supply. Disease deaths fall, population explodes and food becomes the next governor. Eventually, with better governance, stability, and modernization, family planning arrests the growth rate and food no longer is the sole brake in the system.

[-] 0 points by GirlFriday (21783) 2 years ago

What left-wing demagogue bullshit. I am ready, able and willing to stop funding to right wing fundamentalist churches that are sent to countries using our tax dollars. Including but not limited to those individuals that refuse to recognize that there are societies where the men can and will go sleep with other women or men and are HIV positive. Rubbers are a good thing. Perhaps you were aware of treatment options that are available for those infected with HIV. Perhaps you remember the debacle with Big Pharma. Perhaps you were aware that the Koch heads are funding studies that (until recently-and by accident) have denied that there was a climate change-man made. Perhaps you were aware that there are leaders of countries that are wiping out tribes to sell the land to to grow food that the people will not be able to buy. Perhaps you were aware that in many areas (lack of regulation) that there is a shortage of water because of corporations that just dump chemicals.

You must have almost keeled over when Obama rescinded the ban on using tax dollars for family planning (information/counseling/referrals for abortion) in other countries.

Anytime that you are ready to address these issues, I will be too.

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[-] 0 points by GirlFriday (21783) 2 years ago

Yes.

[-] -2 points by GreedKilIs (29) 2 years ago

Why don't you get off your 380 pound wheel chair bound ass and stop eating until the citizens have to pay for you another pair of knees? Then maybe you can plant some vegetables for your starving neighbors?