NOBULL: Speculators should be judged for the hunger of 1 billion people, says Ziegler

Speculators should be judged for the hunger of 1 billion people, says Ziegler

"85% of food in the world is controlled by ten companies. They decide who will die every day from hunger and who will eat," said the former UN rapporteur.

The Swiss sociologist Jean Ziegler, former Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food of the United Nations (UN) reported that hunger is a major problem of humanity, in a debate on Monday (May 13) in Sao Paulo.

"The right to food is the fundamental right being most brutally violated today. Hunger is the biggest killer on the planet. Each year, 70 million people die. Of these, 18 million die of hunger. Every 5 seconds a child dies of hunger in the world," said Ziegler.

In 1950, 60 million people went hungry. Currently, there are more than one billion. "The current conditions of the planet could feed 12 billion people, according to a study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). There is no shortage of food. The hunger problem is access to food. Therefore, when a child dies of hunger she is murdered. "

Ziegler says it is the first time that humanity has the effective conditions to meet the basic needs of all. After the end of the Cold War, specifically in 1991, capitalist production increased greatly, doubling by 2002. At the same time, this production followed a process of monopolization of wealth. Today, 52.8% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is in the hands of multinational corporations.

The concentration of wealth in the hands of a few companies gives the capitalists major political force. "The political power of these companies evades social control. 85% of traded food staples in the world is controlled by 10 companies. They decide every day who will die from hunger and who will eat, "says Ziegler.

The sociologist reported that these companies are blinded by the neoliberal thesis that the market should not be regulated by the state.

"In Guatemala, 63% of land is concentrated in 1.6% of producers. The first suggestion I made, after the mission, was the implementation of land reform in the country. I was rejected because market intervention is not possible. There was not even a land registry there: when landlords want to increase their land, they send gunmen to attack the Mayan population that lives nearby."


Financial speculation on food exchanges is a major factor for the increase in prices of basic food in the last two years, impeding access to food and causing hunger. According to the World Bank, 1.2 billion people are in extreme poverty today, living on less than a dollar a day.

"When the price of food explodes, these people can not buy it. Even though speculation is considered to be something legal, permitted by law, it is a crime. Speculators should be tried in an international court for crimes against humanity", denounced Ziegler.

The politics of biofuels, which, in addition to using land that could produce food, turns food into fuel, is another aggravating factor. "It is unacceptable to use the land to make fuel instead of food in a world where every five seconds a person dies of hunger."

Politics of Hunger

Ziegler affirms that one cannot think of hunger as natural, since it is a human product, created by the unequal society of capitalism. Proof of this is the various agricultural policies practiced by both companies and subsidized by national and international institutions.

Agricultural dumping is the subsidizing of food exports at the expense of domestically produced food. According to Ziegler, African markets can buy food from Europe at 1/3 the price of African products. African farmers, therefore, cannot produce to sustain themselves.

Ziegler denounced “land grabs", which are the rental or purchase of land in a country by private funds and international banks, which occurred with more than 202,000 hectares of fertile land in Africa, using credit from the World Bank and African financial institutions.

Peasants, because of this process, are expelled from the land and forced into city slums. This process has intensified since food prices have begun to increase due to speculation

The World Bank justifies the theft of land on the grounds that the productivity of African peasant is low even in a normal year, with few problems (which rarely happens).

One hectare generates a maximum 600 kg per year, while in England or Canada, one hectare generates a ton. For the World Bank, it is more reasonable to give this land to a multinational able to invest capital and technology and remove the peasant.

"This is not the solution. It is necessary to give means of production to the African peasant. Irrigation is low, there is no animal manure or mineral or agricultural credit, and the foreign debt of countries prevent them from investing in agriculture", says Ziegler.


According to Ziegler, the only way to change the policies that perpetuate hunger is through mobilization and popular pressure.

"We have to press MPs and politicians to change the law, preventing food speculation from continuing. We should require finance ministers at the meeting of the International Monetary Fund to vote for the end of foreign debts. We must mobilize to prevent the use of agrofuels and to end agricultural dumping. "

Ziegler asserts that fighting hunger is urgent, as those who are in these conditions cannot wait. "This collective mobilization can democratically and massively press for concrete steps to end hunger. The concept of solidarity must move civil society. The only thing that separates us from famine victims is that they had the misfortune to be born where people starve. "

The former Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food of the United Nations (UN) came to Brazil to launch the book "Mass Destruction – The Geopolitics of Hunger" (Publisher Cortez) and participate in the 6th edition of the Annual Seminar of Social Work, held in the Theatre of Catholic University (TUCA).