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How the United States Helps Starve the World

August 31, 2001

Two recent press reports illustrate the corporate media's willful blindness concerning a critical, life-and-death issue, and the resulting ignorance of the public concerning same.

One article, about Mexico's attempt to play a bigger role on the world stage, notes that a large percentage of the Mexican population is ill-nourished.  The second story, telling of a drought creating a food crisis in Central America, reports that even when there's no drought, 6,000 children die each year in El Salvador from hunger.     

Just think for a second.  Don't we get our fruits, vegetables and coffee from countries like Mexico and El Salvador?  Why are these countries exporting food, when they have starving people within their borders?  Why is the best farmland in those countries used to grow food and other items for export, while the farmers who grow food for themselves and their countrymen to eat, have access to only the most marginalized land?

It's all part of the global food system.

Enough food is grown in the world to provide over 2800 calories per day to every man, woman and child.  That's more than enough to make everyone obese.  So how could there be so much hunger in the world?  How could so many people wind up starving to death?  The answer is social injustice.

Small-scale farmers and their families are a majority in many Third World countries. These farmers and others go hungry because the fertile lands on which the farmers used to grow affordable food for themselves and their countrymen have been stolen to grow export crops, usually in conjunction with multinational agribusiness corporations. The bulk of world hunger, which kills 12 million children every year, is caused not by droughts, overpopulation or scarcity of food, but by this type of injustice.

The United States is a key player in this global food system.  First, our huge, comparatively wealthy population creates enormous demand for these export crops, fueling the spread of export agriculture around the world.

Second, the United States has always provided crucial support -- political, economic and military -- to the undemocratic (or pseudo-democratic) governments which rule in the interest of those who steal the land, and brutally crush any protests against that theft.

So, in effect, we steal food from the Third World poor by using our economic might to cause the best farmland in these countries to be used to grow food for us, not for the inhabitants of those countries.  

And we insure their continued starvation by our long-time support of the governments in those countries which -- with our full knowledge -- torture and commit other horrific human rights abuses against those who try to change the situation.

The corporate media virtually never discuss the issue of world hunger in this fashion.

[For a more detailed examination of this issue, see 12 Myths About Hunger, The World Food Summit: What Went Wrong, and the other resources provided by the organization Food First.]

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

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