"OccuPie" pizza) than to evaluating its food integrity agenda. This misplaced focus is unfortunate, given that the movement has an important message regarding the impact that corporations have on the world food supply.As the Occupy Wall Street movement enters its fourth week, it appears that the mainstream media has devoted more time to covering the protestors' food of choice (the
According to the first official release from Occupy Wall Street, detailing the misdeeds of corporations:
- They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
- They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.
- They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
The declaration urges readers to "make your voices heard" on these issues. To ensure voices are heard, FIC continually fights for corporate and government employees to safely speak out and tell the truth about the dangerous working conditions, waste, fraud, and abuse that permeate through America's industrial agriculture system.
This past Monday, hundreds of economists and scholars raised their voices and requested that the Group of 20 (G-20) – a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union that discusses key issues in the global economy – take urgent action to stop excessive speculation on food commodity markets. According to the letter, "excessive financial speculation is contributing to increasing volatility and record food prices, exacerbating global hunger and poverty."
According to the World Development Movement, which spearheaded the letter:
"Banks, hedge funds and pension funds are betting on food prices in the financial markets, causing drastic price swings in staple foods such as wheat, maize and soy ... In the last six months of 2010 alone, more than 44 million people were driven into extreme poverty as a result of rising food prices. At the same time, banks and financial investors are making a killing. We estimate that Barclays makes up to £340 million a year from betting, or speculating, on food prices. In the last five years, the amount of financial speculation on food has nearly doubled, from $65 billion to $126 billion."
Although the U.S. Dodd-Frank Act requires that some reforms be made related to commodities trades, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has yet to issue rules on certain provisions. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs spent 1.08 million last quarter alone to lobby Congress and various agencies of the U.S. government, including the CFTC.
According to Rohit Malpani from Oxfam America, "there is a choice that the CFTC and the EU have to make. Listen to experts or those impacted by high food prices, or listen to those who are benefiting from volatility, largely the banks and funds that have increasingly moved to these markets." Unfortunately, a recent report from Reuters finds that the CFTC appears to be "yielding to banks and other major traders on several key provisions."
Perhaps regulation of food commodity market speculation will become a larger part of Occupy Wall Street's agenda. As Ben Lilliston from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy summarized in his excellent article about what the occupation has to do with agriculture: "Wall Street deregulation has not only made the stock market extremely volatile, it has increased prices and price volatility in agricultural markets. The cost of protecting against price volatility are considerable for the future of agriculture not only in the U.S., but around the world."
Shelley Walden is International Officer for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.