Claire Brisset

Children and the Law of the Jungle Publication date : January 8, 2009

Prospects of a global food shortage have never been so alarming. Between 2007 and 2008, the price of agricultural products such as rice, wheat, corn, and soya rose spectacularly. For the poor, who lead a hand-to-mouth existence, this rapid price rise can spell death. In the Horn of Africa, the situation has been further aggravated by drought and a series of armed conflicts. At the end of the summer of 2008, fifteen million people were in a state of imminent danger. For them, death is a daily occurrence.

What caused the situation to become so catastrophic? The author blames generalised merchandization and the resulting artificial manipulation of market prices, speculation and deregulation — all of which are based on so-called “liberal” economic theories that have simply reinstated the law of the jungle, unhindered by any form of control.

These policies are fashioned in the northern hemisphere — with the very helpful complicity of some of the victims. Decisions made in the Chicago stock exchange, on trading floors, in luxury hotels in London and Geneva, and in air-conditioned offices in Washington D.C. have an impact on the lives — and deaths — of millions of human beings, thousands of miles away.

Claire Brisset describes the food crisis that has so severely stricken the poorer countries, and particularly the children that live in them. After analyzing the underlying causes, she proposes ways of putting some order back into the present chaotic state of affairs — by, for example, banning all bio-fuels and by increasing the sources of micro-credit.

This moving document on the reasons behind the current global food crises aims to shake us out of our complacency. The author tells us concretely what can be done to end what has become in effect a vampires' race for control of the planet's agricultural raw materials.

Claire Brisset defends children and children's rights. She is the author of L'Ecole à 2 ans: Est-ce bon pour l'enfant? (2006).