Image of beans and the words: EU Watchdog Radio Episode 45: No political will to curb food speculation

No political will to curb food speculation

EU Watchdog Radio Episode 45

In this new episode of EU Watchdog Radio, Hans van Scharen talks to UN rapporteur on the right to Food Michael Fakhri and Political scientist Yiorgos Vassalos.

Listen to our brand new EU Watchdog Radio podcast episode with Hans van Scharen, who talks to UN rapporteur on the right to Food Michael Fakhri and Political scientist Yiorgos Vassalos. They discuss rising food prices and hunger, the link with financial markets and the lack of political will to curb the influence of financial speculation with food commodities, which contribute to excessive food prices and thus hunger.   

This podcast is a follow-up of episode 43 in which Fakhri explained how hunger is not an issue of sufficient production but of bad policies and political failure. An example of this is food speculation which could be curbed by policy measures, but is not.

In this episode Fakhri explains the role of international markets, where opaque trading in financial products is linked to for example energy and food commodities and price hikes. This trading in financial products often has nothing to do with the real world of food, but has a deep impact on the lives of real people.

Fakhri points out that the huge price increases of food after the invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent calls by right wing politicians and agrobusiness to stop the Green Deal, had nothing to do with shortage of grain, as Ukraine stands for ‘only’ one percent of global production; But soon after the start of the war, global prices rose  with 70%. For countries and societies such huge price hikes automatically mean hunger.  

The United Nations just published an alarming report, revealing catastrophic hunger numbers in 2022:  735 million people face chronic undernourishment, one third of humanity lives in moderate or severe food insecurity, a healthy diet is now unaffordable for almost half the world’s population, there are 122 million more people hungry now than pre-Covid.

The existing European legislation called ‘Markets in Financial Instruments Directive’ (MiFiD) could have tamed ‘casino capitalism’ and curbed food speculation, but the reforms delivered very little…

Political scientists Yiorgos Vasalos researched for years the power of the financial sector and showed how the political will (which did exist 15 years ago) for reforming  EU regulation to tame wild financial markets -which created the almost meltdown of the worlds financial system in 2008 - has slowly but surely evaporated during the past decade.

Just a few weeks ago there was an EU agreement on the latest reform of MiFiD. But after months of intense negotiations between the 3 EU institutions , unfortunately for the world’s hungry, this reform again will deliver nothing to stop food speculation. Several policy aspects that could be effective to limit excessive food speculation,  will be reviewed only in 2024 and 2025…


You can download this episode's MP3 file here.


This podcast is produced by CEO and Counter Balance. Both NGOs raise awareness on the importance of good governance in the EU by researching issues like lobbying of large and powerful industries, corporate capture of decision making, corruption, fraud, human rights violations in areas like Big Tech, agro-business, biotech & chemical companies, the financial sector & public investment banks, trade, energy & climate, scientific research and much more…

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