Pieces Together

“Scientists and development experts across the globe are racing to increase food production by 50 percent over the next two decades to feed the world’s growing population, yet many doubt their chances despite a broad consensus that enough land, water and expertise exist. The number of hungry people in the world rose to 1.02 billion this year, or nearly one in seven people, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, despite a 12-year concentrated effort to cut the number. The global financial recession added at least 100 million people by depriving them of the means to buy enough food, but the numbers were inching up even before the crisis, the United Nations noted in a report last week. “The way we manage the global agriculture and food security system doesn’t work,” said Kostas G. Stamoulis, a senior economist at the organization. “There is this paradox of increasing global food production, even in developing countries, yet there is hunger.” (New York Times, 22 October)

“Could you imagine how much money you would have to have to be able to spend $609,000 a day? What would you expect to receive for that amount of money? Who has that kind of money to spend, especially during a “recession”? According to the latest issue of Time magazine, in the first 6 months of this year, the pharmaceutical industry spent about $609,000 a day to influence lawmakers. Can you imagine the financial payoff they must expect to get to be able to spend that kind of money. This does not include all the money they spend on advertising as well. The drug industry has 1,228 registered lobbyists. This equals 2.3 lobbyists for every member of congress. Obviously, the pharmaceutical industry does not want to be left out of the current healthcare reform debate and are willing to pay handsomely to make sure they aren’t. The return on that investment has already been considerable. As drug lobbyist Jim Greenwood says, “we’ve done very well.” (Dr Brian’s Blog, 26 October)

“As workers up and down the UK sat at home last week worrying about whether they would still have a job in a month’s time, a raucous crowd of hedge fund managers and investment bankers at the Whisky Mist nightclub in Mayfair pulled yet more vodka out of their huge ice bucket and called for the waiter to bring another bottle of Dom Perignon, served with a sparkler. …In London nightspots last week, the City’s finest were spending with a swagger. …As City workers once again prepare for corporate excess, and investment banks such as Goldman Sachs get ready to pay record bonuses, new bars, restaurants and nightclubs are springing up around the office tower blocks in the City and Canary Wharf to feed demand.” (Observer, 1 November)

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