Campaign groups call for tough rules to curb food speculation

World Development Movement, 23 April 2012

Ahead of deliberations by MEPs on Wednesday, 25 campaign groups from across Europe today released a statement (PDF) urging the EU to use the review of its Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) to curb financial speculation on food prices.

The European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) will meet on Wednesday to discuss the report on the Commission’s MiFID proposal by the rapporteur, German MEP Markus Ferber.

The campaign groups are calling for the updated MiFID to include position limits to prevent speculation on food and other commodities from driving up prices, meaningful transparency, oversight and supervisory powers to ensure effective regulation, and bans on harmful trading methods and on financial entities speculating in commodity markets.

Christine Haigh, campaigner at the World Development Movement, said: Deregulation of commodity markets since the 1990s has led to increased food price volatility, contributing to the recent food price spikes that have left millions across the world facing hunger and poverty. We urgently need MEPs and the Council of Ministers to reregulate these markets, imposing strict limits on speculators. Unfortunately the UK government is doing the exact opposite, pushing for a weak alternative system which has been shown to fail. It’s time we put people before bankers’ profits.”

Rachel Tansey, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: The European Union has a legal obligation to ensure its policies are coherent with sustainable development objectives, at home and abroad, including the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals. By failing to regulate the financial industry in a way that stops excessive food speculation from contributing to higher and more volatile prices of basic foodstuffs, the EU would directly contravene its goal of eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, and instead, would exacerbate it.”