We often hear about the resource curse in developing countries in terms of oil or precious minerals — most of us don’t associate the concept with food. But as this week’s guest on Sea Change Radio, food journalist Frederick Kaufman, has chronicled, in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa the resource of fertile land is being exploited in a way that is reminiscent of how other marketable resources have been appropriated.
Multinational companies and foreign governments are buying up mass tracts of land in poorer nations, growing food on that land, but then shipping all of it off elsewhere, depriving the populations of those countries both the resource and the profit it garnered. Kaufman explores how this reflects a change in global food security patterns, and offers his take on how enormous financial institutions like Goldman Sachs are reaping profits while others starve.
Genetically Modified Organism is a downright dirty word among many environmentalists and food activists. People oppose GMOs for health reasons and because it’s mostly giant corporations like Monsanto that profit from the creation and distribution of GMOs in our food system. My guest today has a slightly different take on GMOs, though.
Fredrick Kaufman is a journalist who writes for Harper’s and Slate. This week on Sea Change Radio he posits that the real problem with GMOs is not the genetic modification per se, but the model by which these genetically modified foods are conceived, produced and distributed. He points out that a lot of innovation has come out of the open source movement in the technology world, and asks, why not apply it to food? Would open sourcing the genetic modification of foods enable food activists to turn this dirty word into a sustainable solution? Find out in Part One of host Alex Wise‘s two-part discussion with journalist Fredrick Kaufman. And here’s a link to Kaufman’s piece in Slate about open-source GMOs.
This week, along with the rest of the country, we’ll be piling my plate high with abundant turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and apple pie. It seems like a fitting time to reflect on food. Today on Sea Change Radio, we check in again with leading food journalist Frederick Kaufman to discuss the factors that go into fluctuating food prices around the world. Kaufman talks with host Alex Wise about the food-commodities market, how our global food pricing system mirrors the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots, and the potential impact of geopolitical and weather trends on the availability of food.
From 2005 to 2008, the price of food rose 80 percent and in 2008, the ranks of the hungry increased by 250 million in a single year. What caused this? In 2003, there were about $13 billion in global commodities index holdings. By 2008, more than $300 billion had poured into commodities index holdings – significantly upsetting a market as relatively small and sensitive as the wheat market. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with Frederick Kaufman, author and a Contributing Editor at Harper’s Magazine who will explain how these very complex financial instruments called commodities index funds helped to create an inordinate amount of human suffering while upturning traditional ideas and concepts of supply and demand.