Van Gerven: end trade in hunger

29 March 2012

Van Gerven: end trade in hunger

'An end must be put to speculation in foodstuffs. To that end the government must agree as soon as possible a binding code with Dutch banks and other financial institutions. Certainly banks which receive state aid must stop this trade in hunger immediately.’ So said SP Member of Parliament Henk van Gerven in today’s debate on food prices.

The debate took place at the behest of the SP as the report Feeding the financial hype from the Netherlands-based research group SOMO (The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations) revealed that increasing international scientific evidence is demonstrating that the strong growth in speculation in raw material derivative markets is a cause of extremely high food prices, contributing to price spikes in 2008 and 2011. The United Nations and Oxfam are sounding the alarm because in 2011 alone 44 million additional people fell below the poverty line as a result of the high food prices.

'The Danish Bank Nordea as well as Germany’s Deutsche Bank have now stopped offering investment products which involve speculation in foodstuffs,’ said Van Gerven. ‘One of America’s biggest pension funds, the California State Teachers' Retirement System decided over a year ago to reduce drastically its purchase of raw material derivatives because of moral considerations. When will the Dutch banks and pension funds follow these good examples?’

More than that needs to happen, however, the SP Member of Parliament added. ‘It’s lax European regulations that make speculation in foodstuffs possible. When these rules were revised, combatting such speculation with measures such as limiting trading positions was for the most part left to the stock exchanges themselves. In addition, all sorts of loopholes were left to be exploited by speculators who don’t want to know.' The SP is asking the government to take a stand against the speculators and argue at European level for a tightening up of the regulations.

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