Betting on Famine; Why The World Still Goes Hungry

Title of talk:

Betting on Famine; Why The World Still Goes Hungry

Betting on Famine


Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

  • Introducing the book ‘Betting on Famine; Why the World Still Goes Hungry’ by Jean Ziegler
  • Jean Ziegler was the special rapporteur for the United Nations on the Right to Food
  • Some physical facts about starvation and world population
  • Poverty, starvation and famine as weapons of war
  • A brief history of the formation of the United Nations
  • Examining the practice of creating scarcity to concentrate financial wealth in corporations
  • Connecting corporate ownership with the doorstep: Pension funds and financial instruments


A few paragraphs on your subject:

Jean Ziegler said in an interview with Gilles Toussaint: “There are more and more people who understand that hunger is man-made, that we live in a cannibal world-order maintained by multinational companies and their mercenary organizations, that is, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank”

– Jean Ziegler: “L’ordre cannibale du monde” Gilles Toussaint Publié le samedi 15 octobre 2011

In an interview with Philipp Löpfe for the Swiss national paper Tages-Anzeiger he said: “According to the World Food Organization, there is enough food on the planet for 12 billion people. If people still starve today, it’s an organized crime, a mass murder. Every five seconds a child under the age of ten starves to death and one billion people are permanently severely malnourished”


These quotes from the former United Nations special rapporteur to the Right to Food highlight the reality of human made famine. In this talk I am going to go through some of the research which he has published in his book ‘Betting on Famine; Why the world still goes hungry’ supplementing it with other information with the aim to have a conversation after the talk.


The way the stockmarket and multinational corporations are operating today is no doubt pathological. Understanding just how this form of finance functions in our world allows us to formulate how we respond to the problems which we are presented with. There are complexities which just are not spoken about like the role which pension funds play in the proliferation of scarcity as they are invested on our behalves in whatever returns dividends for the pension holder.


At the same time we are faced with a never ending series of charities and ‘voluntourism’ organisations which speak to us of helping underdeveloped nations in hard times. Which of these charities are also pressing for the lifting of economic restrictions on these ‘underdeveloped nations’ ? When organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and multinational corporations are causing the hard times, what should be done ?


A few paragraphs about you:

I developed a strong interest in the stock market and corporate ownership many years ago. At one point I was making a consideration on whether to try and attempt to accrue wealth through trying to become involved in stock market investing. I had been introduced to the idea through a friend Jes who gave me a book ‘A Mathematician Plays the Stockmarket’ by John Allen Paulos…


This changed my life in interesting ways. I had found a way which I thought I could make money without making anything. Then I was asked about the morality of how I would, in theory, make my money from the stockmarket and as I investigated I realised that there was no clear way of accruing wealth ethically.


The thought of easy money was suddenly disrupted by the stories I was uncovering of the devastation of nations, populations and individuals in the abstract pursuit of financial wealth. Connected with this emerged destruction of the natural environment for profit. I thought that surely something as plain and wholesome as food would be ethical to invest and trade in ??? This was the start of a journey of understanding how multinational corporations are toxic when they shape the economics of life.


When I realised that even pension funds were invested in the unethical practices, companies and products which were creating so much misery, famine and disease I decided that I wanted to know more about the realities of how the companies on the stockmarket are operating. Tuning into the United Nations reportage was a key moment in realising how pervasive and damaging these forms of ‘investment’ are.


Being interested in community and education, I thought it would be good to share what I have discovered in this and hear a conversation around the issues.


What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend?

YouTube player


YouTube player


YouTube player


History of Irish Potato Famine:


UN report on food security 2017:


Historical British Policy created famine:


The Food Bubble: How Wall Street starved millions and got away with it By Frederick Kaufman:


This talk took place on 3rd April 2019 at Gulliver’s (109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW)

by Alex Dunedin

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