U.S. food companies are rolling in money while food riots roll through poor cities around the world.
The Wall Street Journal today reports on the massive profits of companies dealing in grain processing (high-fructose corn syrup, ethanol and others), fertilizers, genetically modified seeds, pesticides and other food- and farm-related products and services.
In the last quarter alone, the six most profitable companies in this sector have earned more than $4 billion. Here's how they might spend a bit of their windfall:
Those profits make the United Nations Food Program's emergency request for $755 million to feed the 73 million people at risk of starvation look tiny. It amounts to 20% of the profits from those companies over the last three months. And remember, these companies Monsanto, Cargill, Mosaic, ADM, Deere and Bunge have for the most part been raking it in for at least a couple years, as they ride (or is that drive?) the congressional mandate for ethanol. Food prices, according to one index, are up 57% in a year.
Meanwhile, the U.N. and World Bank have warned that a whole generation is at risk of malnutrition in some parts of the world as the "silent tsunami" claims lives, stunts growth and propels volatile countries into violence.
Here are the earnings of those companies in the last quarter, as reported by the Journal:
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