Saturday, 14 June 2008

A Hunger for Justice

by Health Unionist

So it’s happening already. Rising food prices in this country are “making people more prone to sickness”. That’s what food specialists say in a recent Dominion Post article Families' health hit as food costs soar.

The Wellington managing director of Foodstuffs (Pak’N’Save, New World and 4 Square supermarkets) rattles off the usual suspects behind the price rises. Poor harvests, high fuel costs, higher demand from Asia, biofuels. You have to dig a little deeper to get the full picture, which corporate managing directors can’t, and won’t tell you. Poor harvests are linked to climate change, which rolls on unabated thanks to corporate opposition to measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Oil prices are rising for the same reason. High oil prices, in turn, make it profitable for corporate agribusinesses to grow crops for biofuels instead of food. “Higher demand” from Asia is actually driven by the growth of a small, wealthy middle class, mainly in China, which has a taste for meat. Grain is now being diverted to animal feed, to produce meat for this lucrative new market. The corporate elite behind the food crisis, which is now growing here in New Zealand as the Dominion Post reports, have no answers. Neither do all the mainstream political parties which serve them. It’s an absolute disgrace that National, ACT, Labour and the Greens all reject such a simple, immediate step as scrapping GST on food. Ultimately, there is no global food shortage. There’s only a shortage of politicians willing to stand up to the corporate agenda. RAM (Residents Action Movement) has the answers that the corporate elite and all the mainstream politicians lack. RAM is building a grassroots movement that puts people and the environment before the almighty dollar – starting by scrapping GST tax on all our food.

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