Food campaign news
The movement supporting the campaign
The impact of financial speculation on food prices is now widely recognised, and this needs to be subject to control without delay.”
- Olivier De Schutter, UN special rapporteur on the right to food
WDM is not alone in identifying excessive speculation as a key factor in driving up global food prices. Lots of world leaders, civil social organisations, financial and business experts, academics and media commentators all support regulation of commodity futures markets.
SOMO, the Netherlands
Corporate Europe Observatory, Belgium
Wider civil society
Over 100 civil society organisations globally supporting the campaign aims.
Over 450 economists in more than 40 countries calling for regulation of food speculation.
European commissioner for the internal market, Michel Barnier, January 2010:
“Speculation in basic foodstuffs is a scandal when there are a billion starving people in the world. We must ensure markets contribute to sustainable growth. I am fighting for a fairer world and I want Europe to take the lead on that."
United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, September 2010:
“The global food price crisis that occurred between 2007 and 2008, and which affects many developing countries to this day, had a number of causes. The initial causes related to market fundamentals, including the supply and demand for food commodities, transportation and storage costs, and an increase in the price of agricultural inputs. However, a significant portion of the increases in price and volatility of essential food commodities can only be explained by the emergence of a speculative bubble.”
French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, January 2011:
“If we do nothing, we risk having food riots in the poorest countries and also an unfavourable impact on global growth. We want regulation of the financial markets for commodities.” J
Then director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Jacques Diouf, January 2011:
“[There is] a pressing need for new measures of transparency and regulation to deal with speculation on agricultural commodity futures markets."
Civil society groups in the global south
La Via Campesina, international movement of small scale food producers, October 2011:
“Financial speculation is and has been widely recognised as the major cause of the food crisis of 2007-2008 and should therefore be efficiently stopped at the international or regional level if we really want to prevent this from happening again.”
80 NGOs including Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre, Nigeria, Centre For Social Concern, Malawi, and Grupo de Solidaridad-Arenal, Nicaragua, March 2010:
“Undue influence on food and energy commodity prices by speculators continues today as seen in unusually high oil prices… With global food production heavily dependent on oil … volatile energy commodity prices means volatile food prices.”
Manager of Masters Capital Management hedge fund, Michael Masters, May 2008:
“Are institutional investors contributing to food and energy price inflation? … My unequivocal answer is “YES.” … What we are experiencing is a demand shock coming from a new category of participant in the commodities futures markets: … pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, university endowments and other institutional investors. Collectively, these investors now account on average for a larger share of outstanding commodities futures contracts than any other market participant.”
Chief economist of Goldman Sachs, Jim O’Neill, April 2009:
“I see so much focus on food, and it seems to be so trendy in the investment world. … The markets seem to me to have a bubble-like quality.”
Chairman of the US regulator, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Gary Gensler, June 2009:
“Over the past few years, price spikes and unprecedented volatility in the commodity markets have hurt farmers, consumers and businesses."
Professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Jayati Ghosh, May 2010:
“Globally the world trade prices of food have been rising since about April 2009, and all the indications are that they're rising for the same reasons that they rose way back in 2007-2008, which is to say that it's not driven so much by global supply and demand factors, but it's driven by financial involvement in the commodity futures markets.”
18 economists including Ilene Grabel and Martin Wolfson in a letter to US Congress, June 2010:
“Deregulation that began in 2000 … encouraged hyper-speculative activities by market players who had no interest in the underlying physical commodities being traded. This produced severe price swings for both oil and food in 2008-09 and destabilized business and household budgets in the US and throughout the world.”
Founder of Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, October 2010:
“There is strong evidence that speculation exacerbated the last oil and food bubble. Speculation will fuel the next one too, unless meaningful speculative position limits are established.”
Chief executive of Unilever, Paul Polman, January 2011:
“One of the main things in food inflation is that it has attracted the speculators for short-term profit at the expense of people living a dignified life. It is difficult to understand that if you really want to work for the long-term interests of society.”
Chief executive of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, May 2011:
“Without any real supply or demand issues we are witness to the fact that most agricultural food commodities are at record highs at once, and coffee is at a 34-year high. Through financial speculation … the commodities market is in a very unfortunate position.”