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UN Warns of ‘High Food Price Hot Spots’ in Africa; Hyperinflation In Many Countries

UN Warns of ‘High Food Price Hot Spots’ in Africa; Hyperinflation In Many Countries

July 9 (EIRNS)–The UN News office issued a release July 8 on the crisis of rising food prices, quoting Arif Husain, Chief Economist at the UN World Food Program, that, “High food prices are hunger’s new best friend.” Overall, the WFP paid 13 percent more for wheat for food relief, during the first four months of 2021, than it paid in 2020. Individual countries—especially the poor and food-import dependent, are experiencing terrible price shocks. The release gave many examples, from the recent WFP Market Monitor:

Lebanon: The price of wheat flour here from March through May was 50% higher than the previous three months. The year-on-year price rise was 219%.

Syria: The price of cooking oil March through May rose nearly 60% from the prior three months. Cooking oil year-on-year has increased in price by 440%.

Mozambique: The price of cassava March through May shot up by 45% over the prior three-month period. Mozambique is among what the WFP calls the “high food price hot spots” in Africa.

Chinese Scientists “Reinvent” the Potato to Feed More People

In a groundbreaking experiment, Chinese scientists led by Huang Sanwen, a researcher with the Agricultural Genomics Institute at Shenzhen (AGIS) (a city just north of Hong Kong), under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), used a genome design to transform potato breeding, and developed “pure and fertile potato lines” with genome-editing technologies

Their study, titled “Genome Design of Hybrid Potato,” was published online in one of the world’s leading academic journals, {Cell}, on June 24.

Unlike other crops that are propagated from seed, the potato is a tuber crop which is propagated by cloning. This results in long breeding cycles, low reproduction efficiency, and makes the potato plant more susceptible to disease and insect attacks. 

CGTN reported that “Huang and his team initiated the “Upotato Plan” in 2015, aiming to replace vegetative reproduction with hybrid seeds via genome design and improve potato breeding speed and reproduction efficiency.

“‘We must first solve the problem of self-incompatibility, which is that potatoes do not produce seeds after self-pollination. Through material selection and gene editing, we have successfully tackled the problem and produced seeds,’ said Huang. 

“‘Meanwhile, we have also discovered how to improve plant health and output. By genome design, we eliminated harmful mutations, aggregated good genes and finally cultivated the potato variety called ‘Upotato NO. 1.’ After testing, it has shown excellent performance…

“We now only need 2 grams of potato seeds for a one-mu land, compared to 200 kilograms of seed potatoes before, which greatly reduces the planting costs.” (There are about 15 mu to one hectare.)

Their work has been recognized by their international peers, with one scientist from the European Academy of Sciences commenting, “This work is very important because it’s relevant to feeding the planet.” 

Genome design of hybrid potato

David Beasley to Musk and Bezos: We Need You NOW to Stop Starvation!

David Beasley, World Food Program Executive Director jumped into the competition between billionaires Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, on which of them would be the first to go into space, by tweeting them on June 26, that they should “team up” to save 41 million of people on Earth facing starvation. He followed it up with a number of tweets that day, including specific messages to Bezos and Musk personally: .

“Jeff Bezos’ net worth increase during Covid was $65 billion. Jeff, just 10% of your net worth INCREASE would save 41 million people about to die from hunger. We need you, NOW! Can we talk? @famine” and

“Elon Musk’s net worth increase during Covid was $137 billion. Elon, just 5% of your net worth INCREASE would save 41 million people about to die from hunger. We need you, NOW! Let’s talk. #famine” and

“During the covid pandemic, the world’s 2,275 billionaires’ net worth increase was over $5.2 BILLION PER DAY. Is it too much to ask for just ONE day’s worth of wealth increase to save 41 million people about to starve to death?!!! #famine”

Beasley Calls on Branson, Musk, and Bezos for $6 Billion To End Starvation

Over the weekend, World Food Program Director David Beasley sent out a tweet, reiterating his frequent call on billionaires to step up to meet the $6 billion more needed this year to roll back hunger and prevent starvation. But this time he named names. He included in his tweet the June 26 CNN video story, “Bezos vs. Branson: Billionaires Battle Over Being First in Space.” Beasley tweeted June 26:
            “Hey, Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, so excited to see you compete on who gets to space first! BUT, I would love to see you TEAM up together to save the 41 million people who are about to starve this year on Earth! It only takes $6 billion. We can solve this quickly!”

The financial worth of these three, according to Global Citizen: Branson, $6.3 billion; Musk, $165.9 billion; and Bezos $192.6 billion.

El Salvador Government: Responsible for Clean Water, Decent Hospitals

El Salvador Asserts Government Responsibility for Clean Water, Decent Hospitals

June 23, 2021 (EIRNS)—Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele sent a draft Water Bill to the National Assembly on June 19, which declares affordable access to clean water to be a human right, which it is the government’s responsibility to secure. Given the fact that the government’s “New Ideas” party has a majority in the Assembly, the bill could pass within 90 days. The bill’s Article I asserts the crucial principle:

“Article 1. The human right to water and sanitation is the right of all people to have sufficient, healthy, safe, acceptable, clean water available to them, accessible in amount, quality, continuity and coverage at an affordable price.

“The State, in all its basic authorities and institutions of Government has the obligation and paramount responsibility to guarantee, without any discrimination whatsoever among persons, the effective enjoyment of the human right to potable water and sanitation for its population, for which purpose it must adopt all policies, legislation and measures which lead to the full realization of this right.”

It is no wonder that most Salvadorans are now more optimistic about their future than they have been for decades. The Bukele government at the same time is celebrating the arrival of enough new, modern hospital beds to replace 50% of the existing beds in the country’s public hospitals. Those new beds are already being distributed around the country. The other 50% of old beds will be replaced in the second phase. Pictures of the existing decrepit beds, many dating back to the 1950’s, are sickening. As President Bukele pointed out: these beds have been used during 10 governments—not counting the coups d’etat.

World Food Program Warns: 41 Million People at Famine’s Door

World Food Program Warns There Are 41 Million People at Famine’s Door

June 22 (EIRNS)–The World Food Program today issued a warning headlined, “41 Million People Now at Imminent Risk of Famine.” The UN WFP press release quotes Executive Director David Beasley, who addressed the WFP Board on June 21, “I am heartbroken at what we’re facing in 2021. We now have four countries where famine-like conditions are present. Meanwhile, 41 million people are literally knocking on famine’s door. If you look at the numbers, it’s just tragic—these are real people with real names. I am extremely concerned.”

The four countries with famine-like conditions are Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen, where people are experiencing famine-like conditions, which is phase 5, “famine/catastrophe,” on the IPS acute food insecurity index from 1 to 5.  Nigeria and Burkina Faso also have people in this worst category.

The 41 million people are across 43 countries. “The slightest shock will push them over the precipice. This number has risen from 27 million in 2019,” said the release.

Further from the release, “Conflict, climate change and economic shocks have been driving the rises in hunger, but pressures on food security are being compounded by soaring prices for basic foods this year. Global corn prices have soared almost 90% year-on-year, while wheat prices are up almost 30% over the same period.

“In many countries, currency depreciation is adding to these pressures and driving prices even higher. This in turn is stoking hunger in countries such as Lebanon, Nigeria, Sudan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

“This year, the UN World Food Program is undertaking the biggest operation in its history, targeting 139 million people this year.” Beasley asks for $6 billion. “We need funding and we need it now.”

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