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The News Line: Editorial Food prices surge will drive revolution! GLOBAL food prices rose sharply in July. The wild swings in weather conditions are responsible says the UN food and agricultural body.

The July price rises are enormous. Cereal prices surged 17%, while sugar leapt 12% to new highs from the previous month, after rains hampered sugarcane harvesting in Brazil, the world’s largest producer.

‘The severe deterioration of maize crop prospects in the US, following extensive drought damage, pushed up maize prices by almost 33% in July,’ said the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The price of rice and dairy produce was unchanged, although meat fell 1.7% due to a slump in pork prices.

Food prices jumped 6% overall in July from June.

The surge in prices has renewed fears of a food crisis that plagued countries in 2007-2008, sparking violent street protests and insurrections in countries like Haiti, Sri Lanka, and the Arab revolution in the north African states and Egypt.

The FAO food price index measures the monthly price changes for a basket of food commodities including cereals, oilseeds, dairy produce, meat and sugar.

Higher food prices have always hurt the world’s poorest countries because it means they have to pay higher import bills as they do not produce enough food at home. This they cannot do, so their people and their children either starve or rise up in revolution.

In the current economic crisis of capitalism huge food price rises also savage the working people of the metropolitan world, who are already being subjected to widespread wage cuts and wage freezes, tax rises and huge increases in energy prices, petrol costs, and rocketing transport charges to keep the bankers and the bosses in business.

A continuing surge in food prices will drive forward workers’ uprisings throughout Europe.

Oxfam has said that since the beginning of the year, rising food prices and drought have caused a food crisis in the Sahel sub region of west and central Africa, impacting more than 18 million people over an area of land as wide as the US.

A big factor in the food crisis is that huge traditional food growing areas in the US and Europe, including the UK, are now given over to producing biofuels, to try and make the US and European ruling classes more independent of events in the Middle East, as they make wars there to try to grab total control of the world’s oil supplies.

Higher food prices are a trend – not an accident due just to unusual weather. The major factor is the growing of crops for biofuels. In this situation the vagaries of the weather can tip tens of millions into starvation.

The Nestle chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the head of the world’s largest private food producer, declared recently: ‘The time of cheap food prices is over.’

He is highly critical of the rise in the production of bio-diesel, saying this puts pressure on food supplies by using land and water that would otherwise be used to grow crops for human or animal consumption.

He says: ‘We are now in a new world with a completely different level of food prices because of the direct link with fuel.’

In the UK we have seen that the Governor of the Bank of England is only sure about one thing. This is that as the slump deepens, inflation will fall. However, Middle Eastern imperialist adventures will suddenly and rapidly push oil and food prices sky high, producing a world of both super-inflation and slump.

There is only one way out of this crisis of the capitalist system. That is to get rid of capitalism with a socialist revolution that can bring in world socialism and the organisation and planning of the world’s resources to satisfy people’s needs.


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