Swiss sociologist Jean Ziegler, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food under the UN commission for human rights, and author of the book "Empire of Shame" (published in 2005 and translated into 14 languages), was interviewed on the French program of Vatican Radio on November 6, 2006. Here are some excerpts:
"Last week, the annual report of the Food and Agriculture Organization revealed an outrageous scandal: hunger in the world that is increasing, despite the technical possibilities to feed all of humanity. 854 million people today are permanently underfed; 100,000 people die every day from hunger or related causes, and every 5 seconds, a child under the age of 10 dies of hunger. This is taking place in a world overflowing with riches, since the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) calculates that our planet could easily feed twice the current population of 6 billion if there were better food distribution. The conclusion: hunger is not a fatality, it is man made. Today, for the first time, hunger is objectively eradicated thanks to the fantastic development of the means of production, especially in the agricultural sector. So a child who dies of hunger today while we are talking, is a child that is murdered!
"The causes of this daily massacre, that is taking place in almost total indifference, are many and very complex, but the first cause is the external debt of third-world countries. All the money they can earn by exporting cotton, coffee, or other natural resources goes directly to serve the debt slavery, in payments to big banks, and no capital is available for investments that could allow these countries to become self-sufficient in food production. (For example, in 2003, the international'aid'received by 122 developing countries totalled $54 billion; debt repayment from those developing countries back to the donor countries was a massive $436 billion.)
"Besides the debt, there is also the agricultural policy of industrialized nations like Europe and the United States, with $349 billion in annual subsidies, which continue to "dump" their subsidized food production in Africa, where you can buy French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian fruits at half or one-third of the price of the equivalent local production, and so you end up with the African farmer who works with his family for 15 hours daily under the burning sun, without the slightest chance of reaching a decent income that covers the basic necessities of life.
And after that, some people in Europe hypocritically wonder why thousands of young Africans — sometimes entire families — try to flee by boats to nearby European islands, like the Canary. Many drown into the sea, and the others reach Europe in a pitiful state."