Poverty, hunger and education

March 2011

Ethiopian mothers with babies. Image Wiki Commons
Consider these statistics.

In March 2011, Michael Moore told his fellow Americans:
“Today just 400 Americans have the same wealth as half of all Americans combined ... Four hundred obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer “bailout” of 2008, now have as much loot, stock and property as the assets of 155 million Americans combined.”
He explained how these 400 Americans got what they have: “they bought and paid for hundreds of politicians across the country to do their bidding for them”, “they control the media” to shape American minds, “they have created a poison pill that they know you will never want to take” in the form of a threat of mass economic annihilation.

In 2009, Biotechnology companies spent $70 million on lobbying the US government to get their own way. Political action committees, formed by some food and agri-biotech firms, have 'donated' an average of $2 million a year to congressional candidates to get their own way. Former members of Congress have received fees of hundreds of thousands of dollars from biotechnology companies for representing biotechnology interests to their former colleagues in Congress. The Biotechnology Industry Organization, which represents biotechnology interests, spent over £4 million in the first half of 2010 lobbying for FDA approval of biotech political priorities such as approval of GM animals and cloned livestock in Europe.

Meanwhile, a Scottish charity, Mary's Meals, founded 9 years ago, is now feeding half a million children in need round the world every day. The average cost of providing food for a child for a year is £9.40. Mary's Meals not only addresses the immediate needs of hungry children by giving them a daily meal, it also allows those children to receive an education that can provide an escape from poverty for themselves and their communities.

Most GM crops have been developed to feed to animals to provide meat for the well-fed or, more recently, to produce biofuels to run cars for the well-off to sit in.

How many of the world's children could have been lifted out of poverty and hunger by the sums of money used to line the pockets of American politicians and lobbyists? How many of the world's children could have become healthy working adults if they had had a tiny part of the sums of money spent on manipulating America's political agenda? How many of the world's children could have received the education they need to become the providers of the future if they'd had access to the sums spent by the rich trying to get richer?

The most important statistic of all is, as Michael Moore reminds us, that even though the few seem to hold all the money and all the cards, there are more of us that there are of them.

Mary's Meals can always use donations and volunteers. Check out

  • Kirsteen Paterson, Scots charity is feeding the world, Metro 4.02.11
  • Michael Moore's speech in Madison, Wisconsin, 5.03.11
  • Food and Agriculture biotechnology Industry Spends More Than Half a Billion Dollars to Influence Congress, Food & Water Watch Issue Brief, November 2010

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