Recent years have seen the international food market seriously bashed by a series of damaging crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic, extreme climate events, obstructed supply chain and political instabilities. Food shortages are hitting various areas around the globe. And, according to international organizations like the United Nations and World Bank, things are sliding from bad to worse. The most severe humanitarian crisis since World War II might be looming.
However, just as other parts of the world suffer, the US has found its way of making the most of the challenge. America’s agricultural giants are profiting heavily from the food crisis.
Now, as problems with the international food supply chain worsen, soaring food prices around the world are throwing low-income countries into serious predicaments, with an increasing proportion of their people subject to famine. Ukraine and Russia are both major grain exporters. At the same time, Russia is also an important exporter of fertilizers. The escalating crisis in Ukraine and the sanctions that the West imposed on Russia are making fertilizers ever-more costly, further exacerbating the surge of food prices.
According to data released the other day by United Nations World Food Programme, the number of people suffering from food shortages has reached 345 million, which has nearly doubled since 2019. It is expected that $22 billion will be needed to meet emergency needs. Fueled by local instabilities, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, today’s food crisis is unprecedented.
The Ukraine crisis has played an important role in the global food crisis, and the US, who is seeking every possible way to aggravate the conflicts, should doubtlessly be held accountable. The extreme sanctions imposed on Russia by America and its allies have further disrupted the global supply chain, leading to the skyrocketing prices of food and energy.
However, it is not the first time for America to profit from such global difficulties. America’s influences have been at play in every food crisis after the World War II. By manipulating the international grain trading system, America and a handful of other developed countries have managed to establish their grain hegemony and profit from others' sufferings.
As an analysis published by John Hopkins University observes, the agricultural industrialization prompted by the US government during the 1950s has brought along a batch of mammoth multi-national firms that deal in seeds, fertilizers, food processing and trading, finally establishing an international grain system dominated by the US. Among the four biggest grain trading companies in the world, three are from America. So is Monsanto, an agricultural giant that produces a considerable proportion of seeds worldwide. In the last quarter of 2007, when the international food crisis was in full swing, Monsanto saw its revenue increase by 45%.
Today those companies are again making exorbitant profits taking advantage of the Ukraine crisis. As the conditions in Ukraine deteriorate, the stocks of ADM and Bunge are nonetheless seeing remarkable rises. According to the British newspaper Guardian, whilst Covid-19 and the Ukraine crisis are causing surges in commodity prices, the number of billionaires in the field of energy and food has witnessed notable rises over the past two years.
Contributed by Xiong Maoling, correspondent at Xinhua News Agency
Translated by Wang Jinhong