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MI Call for Investigation of “Food Speculators”

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 By Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - MI, Contact
May 21, 2008

Lansing, MI – Biofuels, free trade policies and natural disasters seem to be sharing the blame for rising food prices in Michigan and elsewhere. But another, equally important factor is not being discussed as much, according to Michael Hansen. A Senior Staff Scientist with the Consumers Union, Hansen blames food speculators as well, pointing to huge one-day price spikes in trading markets, that aren't due to natural supply-and-demand curves. Hansen believes international groups soon will join his call for an investigation into food market trading.

"It is of interest to the stability of the food supply. It's something that definitely needs to be investigated. At worst, it could be that laws have been broken."

Traditionally, Hansen explains, food buyers would commit to products on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for six months in the future, because they planned to use the ingredients for production. Now, many buyers only hope to re-sell to make money; they're not interested in food or fuel, he says.

While making money in markets is a protected right in this country, Hansen is concerned because recent history shows oversight is needed. Food and fuel speculation, in his view, is not in the nation's best long-term interest.

"Real estate bubbles, dot-com bubbles--we've had one bubble after the other, and ruin gets left in the wake."

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange Web address is www.cme.com.

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