Top Stories

January 23, 2013

International Development

Monopoly of grain trade has forced millions into starvation, say charities

Hunger and malnutrition in childhood will trap almost a billion young people in poverty by 2025, according to a major new UK campaign. More than 100 organisations have signed up to the ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ campaign, including Oxfam, CARE International and UNICEF UK, making it the largest coalition of its kind since Make Poverty History in 2005. The campaign challenges the Prime Minister to use the UK’s G8 presidency in 2013 to tackle “four big IFs to help there be enough food for everyone”: land, aid, tax and transparency.

The campaign calls for fresh action to crack down on the ‘corporation tax gap’ from multinationals, claiming that the lives of 230 young children could be saved every day if firms paid their proper dues in developing countries. It also targets five multinationals – ADM, Bunge, Cargill, Glencore and Louis Dreyfus – which control all but ten per cent of the world’s grain supplies. The campaign’s chair, Max Lawson, Oxfam’s head of policy, said: “The stranglehold of a small number of companies on food supply is squeezing African farmers’ ability to feed themselves and their communities.” (The Independent,

Policy & Research

Global campaign on food waste targets retailers

The UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have launched a global campaign to reduce food waste. The campaign, ‘Think, Eat, Save: Reduce Your Footprint’ encourages retailers to work more closely with their suppliers to reduce waste, offer discounts for near-expiration items, redesign product displays with less excess, standardise labelling and increase food donations. The campaign comes in the wake of a shocking report released by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which revealed that over 2 billion tonnes of the world's food production is going to waste each year. UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said that a transformation was needed in the way society produces and consumes its natural resources, citing the “land, water, fertilisers and labour needed to grow that food is wasted – not to mention the generation of greenhouse gas emissions”. (Edie, The Guardian)

Sugar content cuts to soft drinks leave campaigners unimpressed

Soft drinks manufacturers will voluntarily cut sugar content as part of a new “responsibility deal”, the UK government has announced. GlaxoSmithKline, Britain's biggest pharmaceutical company, will cut the sugar content of its Ribena and Lucozade drink brands by up to ten percent. AG Barr and Britvic have also announced reductions in their products. The Public Health Minister, Anna Soubry, hailed the deal at a Food and Drink Federation event as evidence that the government's voluntary approach to tackling obesity is paying dividends. However, campaigners have criticised the government’s approach. Charlie Powell of the Children's Food Campaign pointed out that in spite of the change, the drinks would still qualify for a red traffic light under Food Standards Agency guidance. “Lots of companies making tokenistic commitments does not constitute effective action to tackle obesity”, he said. (The Guardian)

Inclusive Business

Barclays partnership releases financial inclusion report

Banking on Change, a partnership between Plan UK, CARE International UK and Barclays, has released a report which examines the barriers to financial inclusion in developing countries. The study, entitled ‘Breaking Barriers to Financial Inclusion’, argues that financial inclusion programmes must offer formal links with the banking sector if they are to be ultimately sustainable. This requires much greater co-operation from local and global financial institutions, as well as support from governments and donors. According to the report, 2.7 billion adults have no access to financial services, yet if they all participated in savings-led microfinance programmes like Banking on Change, up to US$157bn could be added to the global economy each year. (Barclays)