Monopoly of grain trade has forced millions into starvation, say charities

Campaign targets multinationals who control 90 per cent of produce

Hundreds of millions of people face starvation because five multinational companies control 90 per cent of the world’s grain trade, leading charities were protesting last night as they launched a campaign to reduce levels of hunger in developing countries.

They called for fresh action to crack down on tax avoidance by global corporations, claiming that the lives of 230 young children could be saved every day if firms paid their proper dues in the nations where they operated.

The new campaign challenges David Cameron to take the lead in championing measures to stop tax-dodging by companies, prevent farmers from being forced off their land and ensure western nations live up to their promises on aid.

More than 100 charities and faith groups led by Oxfam have formed the largest coalition of its kind since the Make Poverty History campaign eight years ago. They are being backed by the billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates and civil rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

It says five multinationals – ADM, Bunge, Cargill, Glencore and Louis Dreyfus – control all but ten per cent of the world’s grain supplies.

The campaign’s chair, Max Lawson, Oxfam’s head of policy, said: “The stranglehold of a small number of companies on food supply is squeezing African farmers’ ability to feed themselves and their communities.

“Rather than protecting the interests of the big five, governments need to ensure that markets are work in the interests of the poor.

“It is nothing short of a scandal that rich countries’ failure to crack down on tax havens is costing developing countries tens of billions of pounds every year - money that could be used to buy food for hungry people.”

In its first report, the coalition condemns the “scandal” which means one in eight of the world’s population goes to bed hungry every night and 2.3m children die each year through malnutrition.

More than one-quarter of youngsters in developing countries are judged to be underweight or stunted and malnutrition will trap almost one billion young people in poverty by the year 2025, it says.

Their earnings potential is reduced in adulthood because of their poor health, costing some of the poorest parts of the world an estimated £78bn in lost economic output by 2030.

The campaign, called Enough Food for Everyone IF, will be launched in London and major cities tomorrow. It will argue that Mr Cameron has a “golden opportunity” to play a leading role in tackling hunger as Britain this year chairs the G8 group of the most industrialised nations.

It urges the Prime Minister to keep his promise to spend 0.7 per cent of income on foreign aid during 2013 – and to enshrine the target in law – and to press for other world leaders to follow suit.

The campaign is arguing for extra help for agriculture in the developing world and to mitigate the impact of climate change. It wants Mr Cameron to “reinvigorate” plans to stop companies using tax havens by putting the issue on the G8’s agenda.

It is calling for action to prevent small farmers being forced off their land and for Britain to reduce the use of “damaging” biofuels often grown by developing countries instead of food for local people.

Archbishop Tutu said in a message of support: “It’s time the world’s decision-makers came to the right decision on hunger.  It’s time to end the unnecessary suffering caused by the failure of the current food system. We can make hunger a thing of the past if we act now.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Polish Speaking Buying Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Superb opportunity for a BUYING...

Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

£14560 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers personalise...

Recruitment Genius: Key Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A really exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Multi Trade Operative

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An established, family owned de...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project