As Hunger and Food Prices Rise, Oxfam Launches Global Food Campaign

Rapidly rising food prices and the effects of climate change are pushing more of the world’s poor into hunger,  Oxfam says while launching its biggest and most ambitious global campaign to date calling for a dramatic turnaround in the way we produce and share food.

May 31, 2011

“Increasing hunger is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Oxfam Canada Executive Director Robert Fox. “Corporations and climate change are forcing small farmers, especially women, off their lands.  Food prices are rising but farm incomes are falling.  As much as a third of the world’s food is wasted or lost. These are symptoms of a food system in chaos.”

Women bear the brunt of the food system’s dysfunction, according to Growing a Better Future, a new Oxfam report.

“Even before the food price crisis hit in 2008, women and girls represented more than 60 per cent of those going hungry throughout the world. In times of food shortages, we see a pattern of women eating last, least and lesser quality food – or even skipping meals entirely,” Fox said.

New polling commissioned by Oxfam Canada shows two-thirds of Canadians are extremely concerned about rising food prices and human rights abuses. Nearly all Canadians (97 per cent) expressed concern about a potential increase in the frequency and severity of hunger and food shortages.

In order to fix the global food system, Oxfam’s GROW campaign is calling for:

  • a new global system that regulates trade and financial markets and that increases funding for food aid and climate change adaptation;
  • investment in a new food future, where small-scale farmers are supported and women’s critical role in food production is recognized;
  • serious commitments to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and channelling adaptation funding to women farmers hit hardest by rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns.

If nothing is done, international prices for staple foods will rise in the range of 120 to 180 per cent within 20 years, according to new research commissioned by Oxfam for Growing a Better Future. Half of the price increase will be attributable to climate change.  This will come on top of the price spikes that have already pushed some 144 million people into poverty since 2008.

Food price increases are a consequence of a vicious spiral of high oil prices; poor harvests in different parts of the world; diversion of food and land to biofuels; export bans reducing global supply; hoarding of food stocks; and speculation on global food markets.

“Feeding the world isn’t only about producing more food.  It’s about putting food into bellies instead of cars, curbing excessive speculation in food commodities that pushes the cost of food out of reach, and ensuring women are at the heart of the solution to the global food crisis,” Fox said.

The world’s 500 million small-scale farmers have the greatest potential to increase food production.  If poor women farmers had the same access to resources enjoyed by their male counterparts, food production would rise by 20 to 30 per cent, providing basic nutrition for 150 million more people.

“The food system can and must be transformed,” Fox said.  Canadians can help build pressure for change by choosing fairly and sustainably produced food and reducing our own carbon footprint.

For more information:
Mark Fried, 613-668-4801 or

To mark the launch of the campaign, outreach events will take place in 34 countries around the globe, including Canada:

Toronto:  Volunteers dressed as vegetables will converge at Trinity Square (Dundas St. & Bay St.) at 11:00 a.m. EDT on June 1, with an enormous living sculpture designed to spell out the GROW logo.
Contact:  Victoria Harnett, cell: 647-237-7513; e-mail:

Saskatoon:  Volunteers dressed as vegetables will walk along 21st Street from Midtown Plaza to the Delta Bessborough for a photo opportunity from noon to 1:00 p.m. CST on June 1.
Contact:  Danielle Paydli, cell: (306) 241-4350; e-mail:

Halifax:  Volunteers dressed as vegetables will walk through the downtown at 5:30 p.m. on June 1, ending at 6:00 p.m. ADT at Citadel Hill for a photo opportunity.
Contact: Jennifer Brammer, cell: (902) 483-8584; email

St. John’s:  Volunteers dressed as vegetables will greet commuters on the Prince Philip Parkway beside the Arts and Culture Centre between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. NDT on June 1.
Contact:  Bill Hynd, cell: (709) 691 4045; e-mail:

Vancouver:  Volunteers dressed as vegetables will illustrate the rising cost of food with a photo opportunity at noon PDT on June 4 at the western-most side of Kitsilano Beach.
Contact:  Miriam Palacios, cell: 604- 657-5785; e-mail: