Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Russia, “Desperate For Cash,” Sells Oil to China In “Very Bad Deal”

March 8, 2009

“Russia, just a few months ago a very oil rich nation, just made a very bad deal to raise $25 billion in cash from China by giving them oil for 10 years.  It is a very bad deal and shows how bad the world economy has become.”

That according to Newt Gingrich on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday March 8.

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From the People’s Daily

China will further promote cooperation and exchanges with Russia this year as the two countries embrace the 60th anniversary of their establishment of diplomatic ties, said China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi here Saturday.

China will fully carry out practical cooperation with Russia in various fields, including energy and science and technology, he told a press conference on the sidelines of an annual parliament session.

The two sides’ recent agreement on the construction of a crude oil pipeline project, a long-term crude oil trading deal and a financing scheme was a “mutually beneficial and win-win result”, said Yang.

The agreement signed in February allowed China to lend 25 billion U.S. dollars to Russia in an exchange for a 20-year oil supply starting from 2011 with a total volume of 300 million tons.

“China and Russia have come a long way in the past 13 years since the Sino-Russian Strategic Partnership of Cooperation was established,” said Yang. “A lot of achievements have been made in recent years particularly.”

He urged the two countries, both major countries and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, to join hands to promote world multi-polarity and greater democracy in international order.

Gas flares off under heavy snowfall at a liquefied natural gas ... 
Gas flares off under heavy snowfall at a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on Sakhalin island outside the town Korsakovi Russia.(AFP/File/Natalia Kolesnikova)

“We should make greater contribution to promoting world peace, stability and development,” said Yang.

He also pledged to enhance high-level exchanges and mutual visits between the two countries and boost people-to-people interaction through such activities as the Year of the Russian Language in China that falls this year.

Source:Xinhua

Related:

Recession on track to be longest in postwar period

 Russia Reclaiming Raw Materials Like Oil, Coal

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The Next Big War Will Be Over Commodities

By John E. Carey
2008

Last Month President Bush went to Saudi Arabia to ask his friends there to increase oil production. The White House believed that by increasing supply, the price of gasoline per gallon at your friendly service station would drop. The president was rebuffed.

This month the United States urged upon the other large users of oil in the world community to join the “produce more” bandwagon.”

China, Japan, India and South Korea went along with the U.S. plan.

Cabinet ministers from the five countries, which account for more than half the world’s consumption of energy, agreed that the sharp surge in oil prices was a menace to the world economy, and that more petroleum should be produced to meet rising demand.

The five consumer countries, meeting in Japan before an energy conference of the Group of Eight industrialized nations plus Russia on June 8, 2008, argued that the unprecedented prices were against the interests of both producers and consumers, and imposed a “heavy burden” on developing countries.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries current president, Chakib Khelil, said that the cartel will make no new decision on production levels until OPEC’s September 9, 2008 meeting in Vienna.

So in just a few weeks time, we witnessed the President of the United States pleading for more production and the senior energy ministers from the U.S., China, India, Japan and South Korea joining in a chorus.

We at Peace and Freedom believe that when the engine of the free market jumps the tracks and supply and demand are ignored; one had better get ready for bad blood.

Then we have food. In the Philippines the people took to the streets demanding more rice. In Egypt, the people took to the streets demanding more bread. And some bad blood developed between Thailand, the world’s leading rice exporter, and Vietnam, perhaps the second most important rice exporter.

It seems the Vietnamese had underbid the Thais on contracts to export rice. The Vietnamese saw this as good business. The Thais viewed it as theft. Never mind that Thai rice is of higher quality and thus cists more.

China recently announced that it had “overbuilt” its industry and removed too much farmland from production. China now is instituting new regulations to preserve farmland and it is mapping a strategy to import more food.

Ethanol and other bio fuels seemed like a great idea to help add to U.S. oil stocks. But when all that corn disappeared into your fuel tank, the price of all corn went up. And corn not only feeds people but it is a huge source of livestock feed. So the price of pork and beef and all that other livestock that makes its way to the dinner table went up.

And food and fuels have never been in such demand. Never mind the huge increases in global population; with the combined populations of India and China eight times that of the U.S.

The world, believe it or not, is becoming more “middle class.” That means more people want gas burning cars which suck up a lot of fuel and add to global pollution. These new “middle class” folks also want a higher protein diet.

If one eats rice or corn or other grains the costs are somewhat manageable. But it takes four times more grain (and sometimes as much as six times) to put meat on pork or cattle before human beings eat that meat. So the high protein diet has a huge cost. It sucks up a lot more grain that human grain eaters ever would and it means the eaters need more dollars, rupees euros, yen or other denominations to buy every meal.

Bacon and eggs are more expensive, say, than the traditional rice bowl.

Finally, all these goodies, usually called commodities, are moving around the globe.

The Associated Press had an excellent article by Gavin Rabinowitz out on June 7.

India, China jostle for influence in Indian Ocean

 

Mr. Rabinowitz pointed out that looking south from Sri Lanka “just over the horizon runs one of the world’s great trade arteries, the shipping lanes where thousands of vessels carry oil from the Middle East and raw materials to Asia, returning with television sets, toys and sneakers for European consumers.”

That shipping lane is a possible flashpoint between India and China. Add in Japan, which gets just about all of its oil by that sea lane. And don’t forget the U.S. and the U.S. Navy. Those boys don’t want to see that sea lane interrupted by war, terrorism, piracy or any other form of bad blood.

So the bottom line, from our small window of the world is this: The next big war could well be over “commodities.”

We’ve used food and oil here as the most obvious examples of commodities worth fighting for. But it could be over uranium, tin, gold or who knows what. Even fresh water.

California is already starting to limit development due to water shortages. Australia is in the midst of a multi-year drought which has crippled Aussie grain production. And over use of fertilizers and pesticides in China and Vietnam have poisoned much of the ground water.

The next big war could well be over commodities.

Welcome to the new millennium.

Related:
China’s thirst for copper could hold key to Afghanistan’s future

Philippines Enacts Law Claiming Islands also Claimed by China, Others

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Jailed China milk-scandal chief appeals sentence

February 1, 2009

The former chairwoman of the Sanlu Group, jailed for life over China‘s melamine-tainted milk scandal in which at least six children died, has appealed against her sentence, state media said on Sunday.

Tian Wenhua says her trial lacked evidence, Xinhua news agency quoted her lawyer as saying.

Tian was convicted last year at Shijiazhuang Intermediate People’s Court of manufacturing and selling fake or substandard products. She was sentenced to life last month and fined 24.7 million yuan ($3.6 million).

Two men were sentenced to death and three former Sanlu executives received jail terms of five to 15 years.

The court ruled Tian authorized the sale of products that contained 10 mg of melamine in every 1 kg of milk, Xinhua said.

Nearly 300,000 children fell ill last year after drinking milk laced with melamine, a toxic industrial compound that can give a fake positive on protein tests.

The latest in a string of food safety failures that have blighted the “made in China” brand, the Sanlu milk scandal prompted an outpouring of public anger.

(Reporting by Nick Macfie; Editing by Janet Lawrence of Reuters)

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From Xinhua

Tian and her lawyers also argued the court lacked evidence to say that Tian agreed to receive the problematic crude milk.

Tian said the management of Sanlu Group decided to recall and cease selling the baby milk powder containing melamine on Aug. 1 when the Hebei Provincial Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau confirmed that samples sent by the company were contaminated.

Even if the milk powder department under the group failed to inform the downstream dealers, Tian should not bear the responsibility, Liang said.

Three other former Sanlu executives received jail terms of 5 to 15 years for their roles in the scandal.

The Sanlu Group, whose bankruptcy petition was accepted by the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People’s Court last month, was fined 49.37 million yuan by the Shijiazhuang court.

Read the entire article:
http://english.people.com.cn/90001/9
0776/90882/6583196.html

Related:
 China Killed Children With Poisoned Milk, Held “Show Trial,” Absolved Government Regulators

Myanmar Humanitarian Trouble Continues: Now More Hunger, Refugees

January 29, 2009

Myanmar is facing a food shortage largely due to last year’s deadly Cyclone Nargis, which destroyed nearly all the rice crops in the fertile Ayeyarwaddy delta, the United Nations said Wednesday.

After the cyclone last year, there were several signs of impending trouble.  The military junta of Myanmar turned away tons of supplies that arrived off shore with the U.S. Navy and made the jobs of relief workers, suppliers and aid groups difficult.

The ruling government even apparently lied lied to the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon when he arrived to help speed relief efforts.

Myanmar has been quiet and unnoticed most of the time since, largely because the government controls the media, keeps unwanted eyes out, and makes money with its oil wealth, lately with new deals with China.

Rice production in the cyclone-affected areas of Ayeyarwaddy and Yangon, the largest city and former capital of Myanmar, is expected to be 50 percent of last year’s, according to the report issued by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP).

Rat infestation in western’s Myanmar’s Chin State has also contributed to the food shortage, the report says.

“Access to food remains the critical challenge for the poorest people and for vulnerable populations in remote areas of Myanmar,” Chris Kaye of the WFP.

Now reguees are fleeing Myanmar to eat — and some recently arrived in Thailand only to end up in jail.  These are victims of bad government — they only want to eat.

Myanmar, like Darfur, is a humanitarian disaster that has kept going without relief because of bad government.

Related:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORL
D/asiapcf/01/29/myanmar.food.sho
rtage/index.html

China Discovers Compensation for Pain, Agony; But Don’t Expect Much

January 26, 2009

Unemployed: China will help out.  Loved ones lost in the earthquake?  China will pay.  Kids killed by poisoned milk: not to worry.

China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao just visited survivors of last May’s earthquake which devastated large parts of Sichuan province last year to help them celebrate the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival.

Many Chinese lost family members, children and friends in the earthquake, along with their homes, jobs and towns.

Related:
China Premier’s gifts to Europe come with price-tags

Wen cooked spicey Chinese stew and handed out money to some earthquake victims.  The cooking was done in a government tent shelter.

Above: Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in Sichuan Province, in a photo distributed by the official Chinese news agency. Yao Dawei/Xinhua, via Reuters

China’s state run media said about 75 million earthquake victims got the equivalent of $15.00 to help them celebrate the New Year.  Per family.

Isn’t this called “papering over” trouble?
.
China’s state-run Xinhua news agency also announced on Monday that the government is to help train as many as one million jobless college graduates over the next three years.

Graduates will also be offered small loans to help them start their own businesses.

Let’s hope it’s more than fifteen bucks.

Experts say there are more than 20 million newly unemployed people in China, many of them migrants.  China is worried that unemployment will cause social unrest.

But analysts say the education and job-start programs show the government’s increasing concern with rising unemployment.

Tomorrow Mr. Wen travels to Europe to pass out goodies.

There hasn’t been an earthquake in Europe unless you count the global economic melt-down.

Lets hope fifteen U.S. dollars doesn’t buy China any loyalty in Paris, London and elsewhere.  Oh, excuse us, Paris is not on Mr. Wen’s itinerary….

President Sarkozy’s love of the Dalai Lama cost him at least $15.00….and China’s love….

Related from the BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7850726.stm

China celebrates New Year:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090126/ap_o
n_re_as/as_china_new_year_2

http://www.france24.com/en/20090125-
global-crisis-dampens-china-new-year-
celebrations

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The China Dairy Industry Association has claimed that 90 percent families of the victims in the country’s tainted milk scandal have been compensated.

Without disclosing the compensation amount, the association said that families of 262,662 children who were sickened after drinking the melamine-contaminated milk products had signed compensation agreements and accepted compensation, the chinaview.com reports.

Out of the families of six dead children and 891 other infants, all except two had accepted compensation, the association said. However, families of 23,651 sickened children have yet to be reached mainly because of wrong or untrue registration of names, it added.

There are only a handful of families of sickened children who want to realize their rights and interests by filing lawsuits and did not accept compensation, it said.

The Chinese Health Ministry has confirmed deaths of six infants who died after consuming contaminated milk products, whereas 296,000 infants suffered kidney stones and other urinary problems.

In a letter sent to victims last month, Sanlu Group which was at the center of the scandal along with 21 other dairy companies, offered 200,000 yuan for families whose children died and 30,000 yuan for serious cases such as kidney stones and acute kidney failure. The less severe case victims got 2,000 yuan as damage.

The dairy companies have also set up a fund to pay the medical liabilities of the sickened children until they reach the age of 18.Read the rest from ANI and New Karala:
http://www.newkerala.com/topstory-fu
llnews-81131.html

Related:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/sto
ry.php?storyId=99002599

Recipes for Asian New Year Good For Everyone

January 24, 2009

Unlike traditional British end-of-year celebrations, where the food plays second fiddle to a festive booze-up, the Chinese celebrate in a different fashion. In communities all round the world the Chinese mark their new year with two weeks of celebrations, in which everybody visits family and friends and they share meals together. Most celebrate with a big banquet that consists of 10-15 courses and delicacies that you wouldn’t find in your average Chinese restaurant.

 The Independent (UK) 

Steamed scallops with black bean sauce 

JSteamed scallops with black bean sauce.  Photo by Jason Lowe

As each course is served, the host respectfully offers the choice pieces to the honoured guest or the eldest, and the fish course is traditionally served last so that some will remain on the table to see the new year in. This year, the Year of the Ox or Buffalo (a sign that symbolises prosperity through hard work), begins on Monday. You can join in the celebrations by having a dim-sum lunch in your nearest Chinatown, or cook up a feast for your friends with the recipes below….

Read the rest and get the recipes:
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-d
rink/features/feast-days-mark-hix-celebrates-chin
ese-new-year-in-style-1488477.html

China Poisoned Food Problem Step Ahead: Restrict Melamine

January 22, 2009

China plans to impose production controls on melamine, the cheap industrial ingredient at the center of a milk-contamination scandal that shocked China and the rest of the world last year, a newspaper said on Friday.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has circulated for comment draft production permit rules aiming to stem a melamine production glut and stop it from tainting food, the China Chemical Industry News reported.

Melamine is used to maker fertilizers, plastics and other industrial goods but gained notoriety as a cheap additive for milk and other foods. Rich in nitrogen, melamine can be used to fool tests for protein.

At least six young Chinese children died from kidney stones and more than 290,000 were made ill from melamine-contaminated milk formula, battering already dented faith in China-made goods and prompting massive recalls of dairy and other food products around the world.

Tian Wenhua, the former general manager of the now bankrupt Sanlu Group, the company at the heart of the poisoning scandal, has pleaded guilty to charges of “producing and selling fake or substandard products”. She is expected to be sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Industry Ministry hoped the new rules would end such scandals, the newspaper said.

Until recently, melamine has been widely sold, including over the Internet, for around 10,000 yuan ($1,500) a metric ton. It has also been detected in eggs, chocolates and other foods.

The ministry also aims to shrink the number of melamine producers by setting minimum production levels and strengthening controls on ingredients and waste.

A two-month-old boy died on Sunday after being fed with milk formula made by a Guangdong milk company in eastern Zhejiang province, the Oriental Morning Post reported on Friday.

The report made no mention of melamine, but authorities were investigating, it said.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Nick Macfie for Reuters)

Thailand May Sell More Rice, Crush Vietnam and World Market price

January 22, 2009

Thailand, the world’s largest rice exporter, is considering selling up to 5m tonnes from its stockpile – equal to a fifth of the world’s annually traded rice.

From FT

The market is worried that such a large disposal could put further downward pressure on prices, which have halved since spiking last year to an all-time high of about $1,100 a tonne.

Thai medium quality rice, the world’s benchmark, however, has showed resilience, trading at $580 a tonne, more than double the price in 2007, supported by fresh demand from importers in Africa, brokers said.

Thailand’s stockpile has built up as a result of its policy of buying surplus production at above market prices in an effort to protect the incomes of farmers.

The country has been paying its farmers a premium of about 30 per cent for their crops in a bid to shield them from lower prices and high production costs, particularly of fertilisers.

The Ministry of Commerce, which controls the rice reserve, has yet to decide whether to release the stocks onto the open market, which could hit world prices, or try to dispose of it in a government-to-government deal. Thailand and Iran have talked in the past about such a deal.

The Vietnamese government recently concluded a deal to sell 500,000 tonnes to the Philippines, the world’s largest importer, at a price of $420 a tonne including freight. The two countries are also talking about further shipments of about 1.0-1.5m tonnes.

Read the rest:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/820ab62c-e8a0-1
1dd-a4d0-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1

Above: Vietnamese farmers harvest rice…

Food Security, Supply Needs Totally New Thinking

December 28, 2008

A sustainable global food system in the 21st Century needs to be built on a series of “new fundamentals”, according to a leading food expert.

Tim Lang warned that the current system, designed in the 1940s, was showing “structural failures”, such as “astronomic” environmental costs.

The new approach needed to address key fundamentals like biodiversity, energy, water and urbanisation, he added.

Professor Lang is a member of the UK government’s newly formed Food Council.

BBC

Vegetables (Getty Images)

Food crops, agriculture and biodiversity cannot be separated from one another

“Essentially, what we are dealing with at the moment is a food system that was laid down in the 1940s,” he told BBC News.

“It followed on from the dust bowl in the US, the collapse of food production in Europe and starvation in Asia.

“At the time, there was clear evidence showing that there was a mismatch between producers and the need of consumers.”

Professor Lang, from City University, London, added that during the post-war period, food scientists and policymakers also thought increasing production would reduce the cost of food, while improving people’s diets and public health.

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7795652.stm

Animal Advocates in China: “Stop Eating Cats”

December 18, 2008

I recall being told in more than one Communist nation that pets like dogs and cats were “Symbols of American wealth, waste and decadence.”  Dogs and cats were not allowed as pets.  But dogs and cats could be kept if they were destined for the dinner table….

Other images of cats

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A southern Chinese province must stop the “shameful” and “cruel slaughter” of cats for food, a group of more than 40 animal lovers in Beijing said Thursday as they unfurled banners in a tearful protest.

Thousands of cats across the country have been caught in the past week by traders and transported to Guangdong province to be killed for food, said the protesters gathered at the Guangdong government’s office in Beijing.

Associated Press

“We are very angry because the cats are being skinned and then cooked alive. We must make them correct this uncivilized behavior,” said Wang Hongyao, who represented the group in submitting a letter to the Guangdong office.

The protesters urged the provincial government to crack down on cat traders and restaurants that serve cat meat, although no law says it is illegal to eat cats. It has long been common for cats and dogs to be eaten in some parts of China and in some other Asian countries.

The demonstrators held up banners saying “Cooking cats alive! Shame on Guangdong!” and “Resolutely oppose cruel slaughter” as they met with a representative of the Guangdong office.

A pet owner looks at  banners reading ' Resolutely protest the ... 
A pet owner looks at banners reading ‘ Resolutely protest the slaughtering of the Pet’ and ‘Live cooked cat insult of Guangdong’ at an animal lovers protest in Beijing, China, Thursday, Dec.18, 2008. Beijing residents have unfurled banners in a protest urging a southern Chinese province to stop the ‘cruel slaughter’ of cats for food. The protesters say as many as 5,000 cats across the country, mostly strays, have been caught in the past week by traders and transported to Guangdong province — to be killed for food.(AP Photo/ Elizabeth Dalziel)

Calls to the Guangdong provincial office in Beijing rang unanswered, while the government news office in the province refused to comment.

The protest was apparently in response to Chinese media reports in recent days that carried pictures of furry felines peering out through bamboo crates and metal cages, apparently en route to Guangzhou, Guangdong’s capital. Other pictures show cats being skinned in restaurant kitchens.

Read the rest:
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=6485958

Gareth O'Connor holds his friend's dog 'Spanky' ...
In many places, dogs and cats are members of the family and not on the menu.  Pet care is better in many places than at a human nursing home.  Here, Gareth O’Connor holds his friend’s dog ‘Spanky’ as he sits in his pet ambulance in Sydney. Australian duo Niccole George and Gareth O’Connor have established a 24-hour ambulance service just for pets, to help desperate animal owners unable to transport their sick animals to medical help.(AFP/File/Greg Wood)

Lye, Boric Acid Banned as Food Additives in China

December 15, 2008

Substances commonly used as industrial dyes, insecticides and drain cleaners were included on a list of illegal food additives China released Monday as part of a monthslong government crackdown aimed at improving the country’s shoddy food safety record.

Among the 17 banned substances was boric acid, commonly used as an insecticide, which is mixed with noodles and meatballs to increase elasticity, a statement posted on the Ministry of Health Web site said. Also forbidden was industrial formaldehyde and lye, used in making soap and drain cleaner and added to water used to soak some types of dried seafood to make the products appear fresher and bigger.

A scandal over melamine-tainted infant formula, which likely killed six babies and sickened 294,000 others earlier this year, prompted the government food safety campaign last week.

By ANITA CHANG, Associated Press Writer

Chinese police raid an unregulated meat processing shop in southwest ... 
Chinese police raid an unregulated meat processing shop in southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008. China has launching a four-month food safety campaign that will include inspections of food makers to weed out illegal or excessive chemicals in food, in the country’s latest move to restore trust hurt by a tainted milk scandal.(AP Photo)

The list of banned substances was released by a government committee tasked with weeding out the practice of augmenting food products with nonfood additives. Local authorities were also warned to watch out for another 10 food additives that are often used excessively.

“This list provides clues for relevant departments as they carry out this campaign,” said the statement, adding that the list was not comprehensive.

The government had previously banned some of the 17 substances as separate scandals rocked the country and raised concerns over products such as milk and eggs, but the list released Monday appeared to mark the first attempt at compiling the information.

Also on the list were various industrial dyes that are added to improve the appearance of food products, ranging from chili powder to tea to cooked meats.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081215/ap_on_
re_as/as_china_tainted_products_2