There were heavy floods and worries about famine in northern Bangladesh in 1974. That same year American food aid was sharply reduced. For Bangladesh wanted to sell three million dollars worth of jute sacks to Cuba. The US threatened to withhold the food aid as an experiment to compare the effectiveness of a food embargo with that of oil. In effect, food was delayed in shipment.
More than 50,000 Bangladeshis died that year in the affected regions. The Americans were not the only culprits. An inventory taken in the region where thousands died found that there was more than enough food for everyone. But it was held back from the marketplace in anticipation of prices rising three or four times above normal levels. Which they did.
Both Food Aid stories from a speech by food expert Rena Dumont as reported in The IDRC Reports, Vol. 13, No. 4.
More progressive American Church investors have sponsored shareholder resolutions attacking corporations’ unsavoury connections with the Pentagon, than on any other corporate responsibility issue. This is for the third year running. Seventy-two Church agencies and individuals affiliated to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility have filed 19 resolutions with 17 leading weapon-producing companies. Sponsors of the resolutions represent more than 275,000 shares of stock worth $13.5 million.
From The Corporate Examiner Vol. 13. No.9. 1984
Plat de jour
Good health depends on eating the right food. And Food and Health - A guide to healthier eating is a tightly written and interesting leaflet which points us in the right direction. At present the cultivation of children’s tastes for sweet, fatty, low-fibre foods may cause a quarter of them to die before retirement. The leaflet answers a number of questions like: What is a healthy diet? How much fat is too much? What foods contain hidden sugar and salt? What’s all this about roughage? Must I say goodbye to sliced white bread?
The answers are garnished with healthy dollops of facts like:
· Our bodies use two calories a minute sitting down, seven playing tennis and 20 running upstairs.
· An aperitif, three glasses of wine and liqueur before, during and after a meal is the equivalent of 650 calories - or a second dinner.
· The average Briton eats one and a half pounds weight of sugar every week. In 1850 they took six months to eat that much. People should cut their sugar intake by 50 per cent, but a reduction of 90 per cent would be even better.
Hints for living better include giving children bread, fruit or a muesli bar, rather than sweets, canned drinks and salted crisps when they are hungry. It is not a kindness to damage their health.
If you would like to help distribute this invaluable leaflet - by giving a copy to friends, colleagues, leaving them in local shops and on noticeboards, by keeping in the house for visitors or by leaving a supply in your local library and doctor’s surgery, contact the address below.
Food & Health leaflets cost £2.85 for a 100, available from Ecoropa, Crickho well, Pows’s, Wales NP8 ITA.
Responding from the heart
The international Ethiopian famine relief appeal has trawled some interesting attitudes among the general public. Below we print one response to a recent Oxfam Canada mailing:
Dear Oxfam Canada
Some while ago I put a few dollars in your kitty for relief work in Abvssinia (or whatever they call it these days). Since then, I’ve had nothing but trouble: you keep sending blurbs at me in the mail. Today I received three (count ‘em) copies of the same form letter. What happened? Inattentive help or defective machine?
Then somewhere in the fine print I find ‘Union Made’ I think it was on the envelope.
Will you forgive me for saving that the expression ‘Union Made’ is enough to make me bloody angry? I have never met a member of a trades union who knew what a day’s work means. I have never met one with the brains to realise that his own interest and his employer’s interest (that is, the shareholders’ interest) were identical. And I saw the UAW headed at the time by Walter Reuther, destroy the finest engineering outfit the US auto industry has ever known - the Studebaker Corporation. The employees even dumped the union and offered to go back for less pay, but it was too late. The corporation folded. No, Sir. I have no time for unions.
Since I seem to be pontificating, I may as well go on. The thing you have to watch about African relief is this: if you don’t use a systems approach and actually make delivery yourself to the starving, they won’t get the food. It will get sold, stolen or simply gobbled up by the fat wives of which ever black politician is in power this week. They were probably better off under the Italians; (and) better off under the temporary administration after the Italians had been kicked out by the Imperial forces.
It’s a hard world. Please take me off your sucker list, then I may live long enough to become charitable again and send you another donation.
(Name withheld for obvious reasons).
In a modest New Internationalist competition we invite further letters of response to fundraisers which reflect how far development education still has to go. The winning entry might even be reprinted here.
From personal correspondence received.
Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer amongst men in the world today, according to a joint study by the WHO Cancer Unit in Geneva and the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyons. Reviewing the report the British Medical Journal notes that population studies and evidence from experiments indicate that up to 80 - 90 per cent of human cancer is determined environmentally and is therefore theoretically avoidable. The journal identifies tobacco as ‘the most important single etiological factor in cancer’. The editorial points out that in the US, for example, around 30 per cent of all cancer deaths may be attributed to smoking. And for lung cancer specifically, it would appear that 60 - 70 per cent of total global deaths can be attributed to that same cause - cigarettes.
From Tobacco Alert, World Health Organization, Marc/i 1985.
What’s in a name?
Names are taken seriously in Turkey, and inappropriate ones bring severe penalties. In fact the Turkish news magazine Nokta reported that an official in the office of Public Records in the city of Mardin is being prosecuted for issuing birth certificates for two family children under the names of Fidel’ and ‘Ernesto’. The official’s crime was not informing on the parents to the public prosecutor. The names, associated with Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara, are considered ‘inappropriate for our national culture, morals and traditions and injurious to public sensibilities’. The law stipulates the official should have informed on the family if his attempt to persuade the family not to give such names had failed. The prosecutor is asking for a sentence of up to a year. Big Brother would surely have approved.
Front World Press Review, Vol. 32, No. 7.