Price of Food

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EWang
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Price of Food

Postby EWang » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:08 pm

Topic: Price of Food
Model United Nations
Work Session: Feburary 3
Resolutions Debating: Feburary 17

The next topic on our plate is one that is very pertinent to many people in the world. Our recent economic troubles may have slightly mitigated inflation in some parts of the world, but the gradual rise in the price of food has put a huge strain on those already struggling to survive. As the United Nations, we must find solutions towards stabilizing the price of food and making sure that everyone in the world will be able to afford sustenance. Discuss here.

Price of Food Topic BriefFood is one of the only things on the planet that people want but actually need in order to survive and continue to create and prosper. Without a Playstation, people are not entertained. Without access to religious holy sites, people may feel spiritually down. Without an appropriate amount of food, however, people grow sick and die. The American Food and Drug Administration’s basic assumption is that a healthy person needs about 2000 calories a day. If there are 6.77 billion people in the world, as estimated by the United States Census Bureau, this adds up to 13.54 trillion calories a day needed to keep every person alive. And this is factoring in numbers for the average, somewhat sedentary America- other people who engage in more manual labor will have very different needs for optimal health. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is a guiding document for the United Nations, says that, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food.” Even if this were not the case, it goes against the rational self-interest of a nation to allow for food insecurity. The world’s population is growing, estimated to go up to 9 billion people within 40 years. The situation is hardly perfect now, with people, especially children, constantly dying of starvation and malnutrition. The world needs to find new ways to feed its population.

The principles of supply and demand say that the more of a product is available and the less people want it, the more the price goes down, and vice versa. When there is a large enough potential market, however, prices should go down anyway. This is because a the creator of a product will see the potential profits available in the mass market and try to make the product cheaper because of it. The spread of the automobile is one such example. Food has shown to be another, as in the example of fast food restaurants which can offer a lot of food for a little and still grow wealthy. The only effective solution to a lack of affordable food, at least in the short run, is the production of more food.

One potential method of accelerating food production would be to increase the use of genetically modified foods. GM foods are genetically altered for superior characteristics. These could include enhanced nutrition, greater resistance to the elements, and faster growing seasons. Theoretically, this could lead to the average human needing less food, increased production of food, or both. However, this is not a perfect system. Despite the already widespread proliferation of GM foods, they are still an imperfect solution. Doubts remain about the safety and environmental effects of these foods, especially in Europe and environmental organizations like Greenpeace. These doubts are valid concerns and must be overcome for GM foods to receive the necessary market or governmental support to spread their use.

Other methods could involve nongovernmental organizations providing for practices to increase farmer capacity. The Israeli developmental system turned a once-barren desert into an often-vibrant country with the span of 60 years. Access to proper water supplies could help farmers grow more crops, especially in currently dry areas. NGOs might also take steps to educate farming communities about sanitation and agricultural practices, in order to provide for more community health and increased productive capacity. It is telling that according to Environmental Science: Systems and Solutions (third edition), by Michael L McKinney,and Robert M Schoch, the world produces 130% of the food it currently needs. However, 40% of it is lost due to destruction, spoiling, rotting, etc. Better agricultural practices and infrastructure could allow crops to be gathered and distributed faster, avoiding this 40% loss. The problem with this is that certain countries may not allow NGOs to operate there, especially in places like Sudan, Myanmar, and other places with starving populaces and hostile or indifferent governments.

Other solutions involve economic measures directly from governments. In places where there are production limits to control prices, these could potentially be abolished. Price controls on food could also be set. However, while this would allow for more cheap food to enter the market, it might also drive farmers out of business due to low revenue. Also, cheap food may be bought up by richer nations who can already afford it and aren’t the primary focus of this issue.

Hydroponics, the technology of growing plants indoors in a nutrient-rich solution to replace soil, could potentially gain ground one day as a way to raise food, especially in urban and water-deficient areas. However, the technology isn’t at the capacity to feed the masses at the moment.

In the meantime, nations may want to maximize the resources they have on hand or attempt to change the national diet. This could be accomplished by rationing food or putting in individual or national quotas, or promoting a lifestyle such as vegetarianism, since it takes a lot more time, land, and energy to grow beef than soy beans. To flip that idea, of course, you could repeal laws against factory farming to give more people access to meat, while opening up more animals for hunting and fishing or legalizing whaling. While commercial whaling is officially illegal according to international law, the Japanese use it as a common food anyway. In June the chair of the International Whaling Commission actually suggested the moratorium be lifted. It remains to be seen what will occur.

In the end, the issue of the price of food has long-range implications for every nature in the future, as the population is growing and all people need food to survive. A solution to high prices will most likely involve maximizing the food supply so supply and demand will do its part. This can be done through government action, infrastructure, promotion of the rule of law and not destructive warfare, and opening up and development of new food sources. However it’s done, it is clear that this is a crucial issue for many starving people in the world.

References
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8119843.stm
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/ ... -1,00.html
http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/H ... food.shtml
http://ag.arizona.edu/PLS/faculty/MERLE.html

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Re: Price of Food

Postby SRaghavan » Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:36 pm

The BBC article brings up a good point, saying: "But Dr Hogarth, a US fisheries expert who led the compromise talks for the last year, suggested it could now be a problem for whale conservation.

"I'll probably get in trouble for making this statement, but I am probably convinced right now that there would be less whales killed if we didn't have the commercial moratorium," he told BBC News immediately after the meeting ended."


In other words, eventually one of two things will happen: Humans will starve if animals are protected for environmental concerns, or, humans will have adequate food supplies if we do start to kill more diverse species for food. Though this could throw off various ecosystems, we must decide if we are interested in preserving animal species over the long run or if we should kill animals for food, thereby meeting the needs of the present generation but sacrificing the welfare of future generations to come. There is no "perfect" solution: The global population has gotten too large for a win-win scenario.

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Re: Price of Food

Postby Cmccloskey » Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:03 pm

Harvesting animals will NEVER be a valid solution. Meat provides very little nutrition compared to plants, and there are simply not enough animals to go around. While it can be used to feed populations on a local level, it is not even remotely close to a global solution.

Genetically Modified Foods are the answer. The biggest issue when dealing with GMOS isn't with safety or health risks rather the legal and technical issues that their use entails (such as Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser). Most of the claims against GMOs are baseless, although that isn't to say that they shouldn't be heavily regulated. However, when you have countries with starving populations such as Zambia and Africa turning down literally tons of donated genetically modified foods, it's a clear cut disgrace.

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Re: Price of Food

Postby BeWang » Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:50 pm

Japan agrees with McCloskey on the point about meat. In many places, meat is either a luxury item, or contraband taken from poached animals, thus making it not an option to lower the cost of food.

However, Japan feels that GM foods do not provide the solution to the issue. First, in the vast majority of GM strains, supply of the seeds come from one supplier, which is free to control the costs as they desire. Second, many of those strains do not produce viable offspring, which is to say that the second generation seeds cannot grow into food bearing plants. Third, there is very little genetic diversity among GM plants. An unexpected event may end up killing a large amount of GM, drastically raising the price of food as supplies dwindle. Combined with the questions on those organism's safety to both humans and the environment, its clear that GM foods are not the answer to the food price crisis.

A better solution for the price of food would involve various infrastructure developments. For instance, in deserts, engineering could be used to increase arable land, and thus, the supply of food.

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Re: Price of Food

Postby Cmccloskey » Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:49 pm

I'm sure that many of you will roll your eyes that I'm not going to drop it,here is the source for my statement about 2.6-3 billion people being undernourished: http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/full/133/11/3879S.

The idea that GMOs are inherently genetically monogamous is a myth. When organisms are engineered, they are not made from scratch. Small changes are made to pre-existing cells, usually changing only one gene at a time. Let's say you take a bunch regular old corn, and give it a gene that increases growth rate. You would not have genetically monogamous corn. You would have a bunch of corn that is genetically diverse, all with the growth rate gene. Genetic monogamy usually occurs as the result of repeated inbreeding.

However, Japan feels that GM foods do not provide the solution to the issue. First, in the vast majority of GM strains, supply of the seeds come from one supplier, which is free to control the costs as they desire.


If companies did not produce GMO seeds at a cost that was financially competitive with organic foods, no one would buy GMOs, whether they were rich or poor. In most cases, GMOs are worlds more cost effective than organic foods, producing higher yields and higher nutritional value than organics. I have a problem with life being considered intellectual property, but that's a philosophical issue that doesn't have much impact on the situation. My main gripe with GMO's being considered intellectual property is that cross pollination can accidentally cause unsuspecting farmers to accidentally grow GMOs without knowing it. These farmers can then be held legally liable.

Second, many of those strains do not produce viable offspring, which is to say that the second generation seeds cannot grow into food bearing plants.


This is the "Terminator Gene" myth. The patent is owned by Monsanto, and they have pledged to never commercialize the technology. That being said, there is no reason that farmers would be forced to buy a Terminator Gene modified plant, even if they did exist.

Third, there is very little genetic diversity among GM plants. An unexpected event may end up killing a large amount of GM, drastically raising the price of food as supplies dwindle. Combined with the questions on those organism's safety to both humans and the environment, its clear that GM foods are not the answer to the food price crisis. [/quote]
A better solution for the price of food would involve various infrastructure developments. For instance, in deserts, engineering could be used to increase arable land, and thus, the supply of food.


"It's easier to engineer a plant to grow in a desert than to engineer a desert to grow a plant"--- Chris McCloskey

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Re: Price of Food

Postby EWang » Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:19 pm

Cmccloskey wrote:I'm sure that many of you will roll your eyes that I'm not going to drop it,here is the source for my statement about 2.6-3 billion people being undernourished: http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/full/133/11/3879S.

And I apologize to the eye-rolling people, but the number of undernourished people is not the same as the number of hungry people, which is what we were debating and what statistics put as around 1 billion.

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Re: Price of Food

Postby SRaghavan » Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:30 pm

Hey guys,

As for the resolution...

Unfortunately, I cannot post it up today. I will definitely have it up by tomorrow, by 7 o'clock.

And Bert, is this fine? You wanted to revise the resolution once it had been posted, so I just wanted to let you and everyone else know about this.

-Shree

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Re: Price of Food

Postby BeWang » Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:52 am

Its Friday Shree... where is it?

edit:
whoops. Didn't see that you posted the one above on Thurs.
Last edited by BeWang on Sat Feb 06, 2010 11:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Price of Food

Postby SRaghavan » Fri Feb 05, 2010 7:54 pm

Alright, here is the resolution. Bert, you said you wanted to make it technically proper (formatting, word choice, etc.) so you can do that now.


Sponsors: Canada, Japan, South Africa, Austria, Russia, Slovakia.

Acknowledging that food shortages have become a dangerous problem globally;

Recognizing that failure to properly address the issue of food shortages will result in unnecessary deaths, starvation, and loss of productivity;

Knowing that only long-term developments will effectively solve the issue of global food shortages;

1. Encourages nations to comabt the growing problem of food shortages be bettering infrastructure;
a. Calls upon nations to improve irrigation systems and waterways for effective transport of materials
b. Emphasizes the importance of improved road ways in order to facilitate the transport of food over land routes
c. Stresses impoverished to adopt more effective and more reliable methods of communication

2. Requests NGOs, or non-governmental organizations, to distribute a greater portion of the donations they recieve to fighting worldwide hunger;
a. Spread awareness of the importance of non-governmental organizations so that average citizens in developed nations may donate more money to the cause of worldwide food shortages

3. Encourages private institutions and affluent organizations to invest in struggling nations;
a. Recommends federal governments throughout the world to give incentives to those companies that do invest in areas affected by massive food shortages;

4. Stresses the need for efficiency in harvesting crops to combat global food shortages;
a. Encourages nations to invest more money in meteorological technology to derive more accurate weather predictions to ensure crop stability;
b. Recommends that governments discourage human dependence on limited food sources/agriculture, such as genetically modified foods.
c. Discourages the waste/unfair distribution of food and resources donated to poorer nations that are afflicted by fod shortage.

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Re: Price of Food

Postby vallada » Sat Feb 06, 2010 11:03 am

Is the other bill going to be posted up? I know George left it to Australia to do so....

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Re: Price of Food

Postby BeWang » Sat Feb 06, 2010 11:45 am

Sponsors: Canada, Japan, South Africa, Austria, Russia, Slovakia.

Acknowledging that food shortages have become a dangerous problem globally;

Recognizing that failure to properly address the issue of food shortages will result in unnecessary deaths, starvation, and loss of productivity;

Knowing that only long-term developments will effectively solve the issue of global food shortages;

1. Calls upon NGOs, Governments, and Private Organizations to combat the rising price of food through investments in
a. Improved irrigation methods
b. Better transportation services
c. More effective and more reliable methods of communication

2. Requests governments give incentives to private organizations that choose to invest in improvements in nations combating hunger.

3. Encourages measures to improve efficiency and sustainability through
a. More accurate weather forcasts
b. Diversity in crop choices
c. Wastage, unfair distribution or reliance on food donations.


I know this looks a lot shorter than the initial one for several reasons
1. Certain sections were somewhat redundant.
2. You don't have to explain your logic in the legislation. That's what speaking and posting on the forums are for.
3. Operative clauses don't really belong in subsections. Since every section is supposed to talk about similar actions, having multiple operative clauses per section distracts the purpose.

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Re: Price of Food

Postby BeWang » Sat Feb 06, 2010 11:52 am

1. Calls upon NGOs, Governments, and Private Organizations to combat the rising price of food through investments in
a. Improved irrigation methods
b. Better transportation services
c. More effective and more reliable methods of communication


This is what I've been urging the entire time. Nations are starving and will stay starving or dependent on rising food costs. If they can grow their own crops, their dependency is reduced, and if they produce surpluses, they can sell it on the free market, increasing supply, and lowering costs.

2. Requests governments give incentives to private organizations that choose to invest in improvements in nations combating hunger.


Orgs should be rewarded for helping the needy.

a. More accurate weather forcasts


A bad storm can ruin a harvest, reduce supply, and starve people. Sometimes, a little preparation can go along way in helping preserve crops.

b. Diversity in crop choices


Growing only few crops (often cash crops) depletes the soil, and reduces the supply of food that people actually need.

c. Wastage, unfair distribution or reliance on food donations.


While Japan frowns on widespread use of GM, Japan does acknowledge that beggars cannot be choosers and that poor nations should take what they can in aid. Rejecting a one time food shipment doesn't help the hungry.
However, reliance on food donations means that it will become less likely for nations to become independent in the future.

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Re: Price of Food

Postby Jfanders » Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:54 pm

Sorry I'm late with posting it, here it is:

Resolution 4-2
Sponsors: Australia, United Kingdom, Honduras, Ireland, Czechoslovakia
Signatories: Ukraine
Mindful of an ever growing worldwide population.
Recognizing the ever growing demand for food and the starvation of some in pursuit of it.
Aware that the governmental infrastructures are set up may affect food distribution.
Be it enacted by the United Nations assembled:
1. Recommends the further research and testing of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) for the following purposes:
a. The production of crops demonstrating the following advantages
i. Increased nutritional value
ii. Faster growing speed
iii.Affordability
b. Studies on the safety of GMOs for human consumption
c. Assessment of environmental impact
d. Economic viability
2. Suggests that member nations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) invest in infrastructure and different transportation methods in order to:
a. Make food distribution more effective.
b. Reduce waste and spoilage of crops.
3. Condemns government policies which deliberately reduce food production and thus drive up prices.
4. Urges governments in underdeveloped nations to assist framers in funding for better irrigation technology and advancement to help growing better crops.
5. Calls Upon the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and NGOs to work in conjunction to educate farmers in scientific knowledge such as:
a. The latest farming technology
b. The importance of irrigation and waterways
c. Techniques to maximize production.

We also have elected Ireland to speak on the bills behalf and Honduras to speak against the opposing legislation. So ladies and Gentlemen, lets get ready to rumble!
Last edited by Jfanders on Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Price of Food

Postby galukal » Sat Feb 06, 2010 6:56 pm

Speakers

4-1.
Pro: South Africa
Con: Honduras

4-2.
Pro: Ireland
Con: Austria

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Re: Price of Food

Postby EWang » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:04 am

Here's both the resolutions in easy to read format:

Resolution 4-1
Sponsors: Canada, Japan, South Africa, Austria, Russia, Slovakia.

Acknowledging that food shortages have become a dangerous problem globally;

Recognizing that failure to properly address the issue of food shortages will result in unnecessary deaths, starvation, and loss of productivity;

Knowing that only long-term developments will effectively solve the issue of global food shortages;

Be it hereby enacted by the United Nations assembled:

1. Calls upon NGOs, Governments, and Private Organizations to combat the rising price of food through investments in
a. Improved irrigation methods
b. Better transportation services
c. More effective and more reliable methods of communication

2. Requests governments give incentives to private organizations that choose to invest in improvements in nations combating hunger.

3. Encourages measures to improve efficiency and sustainability through
a. More accurate weather forcasts
b. Diversity in crop choices
c. Wastage, unfair distribution or reliance on food donations.



Resolution 4-2
Sponsors: Australia, United Kingdom, Honduras, Ireland, Czechoslovakia
Signatories: Czechoslovakia, Ukraine

Mindful of an ever growing worldwide population.

Recognizing the ever growing demand for food and the starvation of some in pursuit of it.

Aware that the governmental infrastructures are set up may affect food distribution.

Be it hereby enacted by the United Nations assembled:

1. Recommends the further research and testing of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) for the following purposes:
a. The production of crops demonstrating the following advantages
i. Increased nutritional value
ii. Faster growing speed
iii.Affordability
b. Studies on the safety of GMOs for human consumption
c. Assessment of environmental impact
d. Economic viability

2. Suggests that member nations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) invest in infrastructure and different transportation methods in order to:
a. Make food distribution more effective.
b. Reduce waste and spoilage of crops.

3. Condemns government policies which deliberately reduce food production and thus drive up prices.

4. Urges governments in underdeveloped nations to assist framers in funding for better irrigation technology and advancement to help growing better crops.

5. Calls Upon the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and NGOs to work in conjunction to educate farmers in scientific knowledge such as:
a. The latest farming technology
b. The importance of irrigation and waterways
c. Techniques to maximize production.


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