Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

January 9, 2011

Food Safety Bill Grants FDA Authority to Police Foreign Nations

Of all the talk about the USA Food Safety Bill, S.510, it is likely that few have actually read the language in the bill. Do the lawmakers actually know what is in it? The Food Safety Modernization Act allows the FDA to set up foreign offices.

Section 305 is entitled “BUILDING CAPACITY OF FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS WITH RESPECT TO FOOD SAFETY,” which allows the FDA the full authority to set up offices in foreign countries to dictate the food safety plans of foreign governments for any food coming into the United States. This is noted on page 217 of the Act.

SEC. 308. FOREIGN OFFICES OF THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION.
(a) IN GENERAL. – The Secretary shall establish offices of the Food and Drug Administration in foreign countries selected by the Secretary.

It then goes on to say:

(a) The Secretary shall, not later than 2 years of the date of enactment of this Act, develop a comprehensive plan to expand the technical, scientific, and regulatory food safety capacity of foreign governments, and their respective food industries, from which foods are exported to the United States.

This will allow for the global expansion of the FDA and an huge expansion of government jobs and government authority, most likely to be relegated to multinational corporations.

This Food Safety Act is to be developed under consultation to the Department of Homeland Security as well as the U.S. Treasury. As the bill states:

(b) Consultation – In developing the plan under subsection (a), the Secretary shall consult with the Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the United States Trade Representative, and the Secretary of Commerce, representatives of the food industry, appropriate foreign government officials, nongovernmental organizations that represent the interests of consumers, and other stakeholders.

What does the Department of Homeland Security have to do with an FDA food safety plan? Why is the U.S. Treasury involved in the food supply? The history of the Federal Reserve probably holds more of the answers here than you would care to admit.

Data sharing and international law are a big part of the Act. You can view this yourself on page 195 of the bill (at the link above).

(c) Plan – The plan developed under subsection (a) shall include, as appropriate, the following: “Provisions for secure electronic data sharing.”

This is so that the FDA can electronically track and monitor the food production activities of foreign nations. That way, if somebody in Spain tries to sell raw almonds to the USA, the FDA can make sure those almonds are irradiated or fumigated with chemicals first. Raw almonds are so dangerous they have actually been outlawed in States.

“Training of foreign governments and food producers on United States requirements for safe food” is designed to mandate the FDA’s “dead food” agenda to other nations.  This may effectively export the corporate agenda of health borne disease that the USA food industry seeks to sow. This will put more money in the pockets of the U.S. Pharmacy Corporations, expanding their power internationally, much like the U.S. has done with other industries, sending jobs overseas. There is no provision to mandate any pesticide levels where food safety is concerned.

The FDA will be allowed to “harmonize” the USA food and dietary supplement industries which could outlaw healthy doses of vitamins and minerals. RDA standards are bare minimums at best for minimal health needs.

Centralized power is likely to fuel large food corporations as they take over food production markets per government mandate, ensuring huge profits, all to the lowest bidder while the health of the nation flags. All the while, food engineers Monsanto, DuPont and other agricultural giants are likely benefactors as they push their proprietary seed and genetically modified plants on the world.

Thanks to Wikileaks, the world knows that the global GMO conspiracy is real and ripe for a corporate power grab.

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September 24, 2010

U.N. Says World is at the Brink of Food Crisis through Speculation

Environmental disasters and speculative investors are to blame for volatile food commodities markets, says UN’s special adviser

The United Nations warned that the world is likely on the brink of a major new food crisis caused by environmental disasters and rampant market speculators today at an emergency meeting on food price inflation.

The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO meeting in Rome, Italy, on September 24 was called last month after a heatwave and wildfires in Russia led to a draconian wheat export ban while food riots broke out in Mozambique, killing 13 people. U.N. experts heard that pension and hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds and large banks who speculate on commodity markets are likely to be responsible for inflation in food prices being seen across all continents.

In a new paper released this week, Olivier De Schutter, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on food, says that the increases in price and the volatility of food commodities can only be explained by the emergence of a “speculative bubble” which he traces back to early this decade.

“[Beginning in] 2001, food commodities derivatives markets, and commodities indexes began to see an influx of non-traditional investors,” De Schutter writes. “The reason for this was because other markets dried up one by one: the dotcoms vanished at the end of 2001, the stock market soon after, and the U.S. housing market in August 2007. As each bubble burst, these large institutional investors moved into other markets, each traditionally considered more stable than the last. Strong similarities can be seen between the price behavior of food commodities and other refuge values, such as gold.”

He continues: “A significant contributory cause of the price spike [has been] speculation by institutional investors who did not have any expertise or interest in agricultural commodities, and who invested in commodities index funds or in order to hedge speculative bets.”

A near doubling of many staple food prices in 2007 and 2008 led to riots in more than 30 countries and an estimated 150 million extra people going hungry. While some commodity prices have since reduced, the majority are well over 50% higher than pre-2007 figures – and are now rising quickly upwards again.

“Once again we find ourselves in a situation where basic food commodities are undergoing supply shocks. World wheat futures and spot prices climbed steadily until the beginning of August 2010, when Russia – faced with massive wildfires that destroyed its wheat harvest – imposed an export ban on that commodity. In addition, other markets such as sugar and oilseeds are witnessing significant price increases,” said De Schutter, who spoke today at The U.K. Food Group’s conference in London.

Gregory Barrow, of the U.N. World Food Program said: “What we have seen over the past few weeks is a period of volatility driven partly by the announcement from Russia of an export ban on grain food until next year, and this has driven prices up. They have fallen back again, but this has had an impact.”

Sergei Sukhov, from Russia’s agriculture ministry, told the Associated Press during a break in the meeting in Rome that the market for grains “should be stable and predictable for all participants.” He said no efforts should be spared “to the effect that the production of food be sufficient.”

“The emergency U.N. meeting in Rome is a clear warning sign that we could be on the brink of another food price crisis unless swift action is taken. Already, nearly a billion people go to bed hungry every night – another food crisis would be catastrophic for millions of poor people,” said Alex Wijeratna, ActionAid’s hunger campaigner.

An ActionAid report released last week revealed that hunger could be costing poor nations $450 billion a year – more than 10 times the amount needed to halve hunger by 2015 and meet Millennium Development Goal One.

Food prices are rising around 15% a year in India and Nepal, and similarly in Latin America and China. U.S.  maize prices this week broke through the $5-a-bushel level for the first time since September 2008, fueled by reports from U.S. farmers of disappointing yields in the early stages of their harvests. The surge in the corn price also pushed up European wheat prices to a two-year high of €238 a ton.

Elsewhere, the threat of civil unrest led Egypt this week to announce measures to increase food self-sufficiency to 70%. Partly as a result of food price rises, many middle eastern and other water-scarce countries have begun to invest heavily in farmland in Africa and elsewhere to guarantee supplies.

Although the FAO has rejected the notion of a food crisis on the scale of 2007-2008, it this week warned of greater volatility in food commodities markets in the years ahead.

At the meeting in London today, De Schutter said the only long term way to resolve the crisis would be to shift to “agro-ecological” ways of growing food. This farming, which does not depend on fossil fuels, pesticides or heavy machinery has been shown to protect soils and use less water.

“A growing number of experts are calling for a major shift in food security policies, and support the development of agroecology approaches, which have shown very promising results where implemented,” he said.

Green Party Parliament Member Caroline Lucas called for tighter regulation of the food trade. “Food has become a commodity to be traded. The only thing that matters under the current system is profit. Trading in food must not be treated as simply another form of business as usual: for many people it is a matter of life and death. We must insist on the complete removal of agriculture from the remit of the World Trade Organization,” she said.

You can read this article by Guardian environmental editor John Vidal, with reporting by various news agencies, in context here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/sep/24/food-crisis-un-emergency-meeting-rome

May 14, 2010

Big Business & Consequence of Economic Recovery

Because of the way that the United States economy is structured, every article of good news is almost always balanced by an equally troubling fact of economic life. Despite the prospects of a growing recovery in the eyes of many, we are now confronted with the latest trade deficit statistics.

As the economy improves, established business and some people are spending more money. The unhappy news is that the nation is spending more on imported goods than the rest of the world is spending on U.S. goods.

The latest statistics show that U.S. exports rose 3.2 percent during the month. Authorities equate this to a seasonally adjusted $147.9 billion. Imports increased by almost the same percentage, rising to $188.3 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $40.4 billion for the month of March. This an increase of 2.5 percent compared to the prior month, the highest trade imbalance in dollars in 15 months.

Much of the trade imbalance is due to the cost of  addictive imported oil, which points to the need for more effective national energy policy. The recent gulf oil spill has put a bit of a monkey wrench into what government says are short-term plans.

The largest winners in this trade process are the Middle East, followed by China. While consumers ultimately decide what they will buy, the big decision makers in all this hocus-pocus is Big Business, either through Corporate America, Multinational Corporations and large retailers like Wal-Mart. Responsibility doesn’t stop there. Even small mall shops bear a burden in supporting cheap foreign goods. In fact, no business is free from supporting cheap foreign goods over American goods. That die was cast in the 1990s. Even now, corporations are constantly trying to lower their bottom line and increase profits exponentially. Most of the time, they don’t care how they do it.  As a result the nation spends more than ever on foreign goods to support the desire for cheap stuff. Unhappily, because of corporations, much of that cheap stuff isn’t really cheap. It is being marked up by Big Business, made more desirable through glitzy advertising. As a result, quality of goods is often being reduced as well.

Corporations are not being encouraged to use goods produced in the United States. In fact, there is little incentive to produce goods in the U.S. when insanely cheap manufacturing sources can be found overseas. Politics is often involved with the notion of “saving America.” Any economic sustainability for this nation must involve corporations and businesses that do business in America.

It has been posited by many that consumers must demonstrate more discipline. While consumers do vote with their dollars, they often have little choice in the matter, especially in this decade. It isn’t simply about tightening spending and buying American goods. Corporations that do business in America must comply as well for the nation to succeed in putting down a continued national trade imbalance. Any other approach is simply magical thinking.

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