Oxfam report: As millions face starvation, profits of agribusiness giants soar

Hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from unprecedented inflation and shortages in food prices, and face starvation. But the giant corporations that dominate food production and distribution are making money like never before.

Malnourished children wait for treatment in the pediatric ward of Pulmyogo Hospital in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso [AP Photo/Sophie Garcia] [AP Photo/Sophie Garcia]

The food crisis, which results from the complete dependence of livelihoods on capitalist profit, is at the heart of the recent update on global inequality by the British humanitarian organization Oxfam. This update comes ahead of the meeting of the World Economic Forum, the gathering of the world’s business and financial elite, which will take place in Davos, Switzerland, this week.

The inflationary food crisis, caused by the refusal of capitalist governments to take action to eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic, was exacerbated by the proxy war waged by the United States and NATO against Russia in Ukraine.

Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the level of hunger worldwide had reached a new high, with the number of food insecure people doubling in the past two years, from 135 million to 276 million.

With severe cuts to the supply of fertilizers and other agricultural inputs, no end to the crisis is in sight.

The latest Oxfam report details how global agricultural companies, as well as energy companies, are benefiting from this human misery.

Global food prices have risen by 33.5 percent over the past two years and are expected to rise by another 23 percent this year. March saw the biggest rise in food prices since the United Nations began collecting food price data in 1990.

The report notes that billionaire companies and the dynasties that control a large part of our food system are seeing their profits soar,” noting that 62 new food billionaires have been created in the past two years.

The report pays special attention to global food giant Cargill, one of the world’s largest private companies and one of four that control more than 70 percent of the global market for agricultural products.

The combined wealth of Cargill family members has increased by $14.4 billion since 2020, an increase of 65 percent. It has increased by about $20 million a day during the pandemic, driven by rising food prices, especially grain.

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