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UN's Ziegler: WTO, IMF, and Biofuels Have Caused `Authentic Tragedy' of World Starvation

April 29, 2008 (EIRNS)—Jean Ziegler, the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, used his April 28 press conference in Geneva to denounce the World Trade Organization (WTO), biofuels, and the "aberrant" policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for starving poor people around the world.

Ziegler was attending the meeting of several UN agencies in Geneva, called to come up with emergency solutions to the world food crisis. In what was his final press conference as Special Rapporteur—his job ends on April 30—he minced no words. The work of WTO director Pascal Lamy, he said, "is totally contrary to the interests of people who are victims of starvation." Yet the WTO is rushing to conclude the Doha Round for greater trade liberalization, which will kill more people, he said. It is protectionist payments that allow peasants and small farmers to produce food, he continued, not trade liberalization!

The Swiss official charged that the IMF's "aberrant" policies were tantamount to colonialism—encouraging poor nations to produce non-food products for export, so they could pay off their foreign debt, while leaving subsistance farmers to eke out an existence on their own. Enough of such "colonial crops," he said.

Ziegler made an impassioned call for increased donations to the UN's World Food Program, which is the only source of food for 75 million people. Over the past three months, he warned, the purchasing power of the world's poor has dropped by 40%, due to food price inflation. Unless aid is forthcoming, millions of people, in such places as the Gaza Strip or Darfur, will die over the coming months, and food riots and unrest will intensify. High food prices "are destabilizing the world," Ziegler intoned, and the "daily massacre of hunger" is worsening, while speculators seek gains from the ups and downs of commodity prices on international markets.

In this context, Ziegler slammed the biofuels mania, which he charged was one of the main causes for rising food prices. If people want to fight global warming, fine, Ziegler said, but they should do it without killing people. Today, biofuels "are a crime against a large portion of humanity, which is intolerable," he warned. There must be "total moratoria" on biofuels production, lasting a minimum of five years, he stated.