Food First Bonanza

Food First, the Institute at which I’m a Fellow in Oakland, California, has come out with some fine material over the past week. First, they’ve put out a fantastic take-down of biofuels (more properly agrofuels), in a report with the perfect title: When Renewable Isn’t Sustainable.

They’ve also got this handy list of food riots, to which we can add the travails in Argentina (thanks to Mary Robertson for sending news about this). I’ll be writing about the other omission from this list in the next post: rice riots.

  • Italy: In September, Italians boycotted their national food, pasta, for one day to protest a jump in the cost of wheat and other staples.
  • Morocco: Protesters stymied government plans to raise the price of bread by 30% after a confrontation that injured at least 50 people. Violence returned in January, killing 60.
  • Mauritania: In November, one person died and several were injured after police clashed with groups of mostly young people complaining about the price of cereals and oils.
  • Senegal: Riots were sparked after the president issued an order to evict street vendors in a climate of growing discontent over food prices and inequality. “Prices of basic commodities are reaching incomprehensible levels,” a union leader told the Integrated Regional Information Networks.
  • Indonesia: In January, 10,000 protesters pressured the government to lift an import tax on soy, a predominately imported staple source of protein for working people, that had doubled in price on world markets.
  • Burkina Faso: In February rioters targeted government buildings two weeks after officials pledged to take “strong measures” to control the rising prices of food and other basic goods.
  • Cameroon: At least 20 people were killed in the country’s worst rioting in 15 years after the president announced an extension to his regime’s rule. Protesters demanded cuts in food and fuel prices as well as the president’s resignation.
  • Yemen and Middle East: A dozen people were killed in a string of protests over bread prices that have doubled over the past four months.
  • Egypt: Shortages of subsidized bread have created long lines, making for tense situations that have occasionally turned violent. At least 10 people died during the first two weeks of March outside of bakeries that produce subsidized bread.
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