I’ve had it up to here with the MSM, especially the NYTimes and it’s clone, the International Herald Tribune. Today’s IHT has an article on how reporters in India were aghast that Bush “Blamed” the rice shortage on Indians eating too much.

But of course, he never said such a thing, and shame to the IHT for not even bothering to quote what Bush actually said, or a simple paragraph to put things in context.

A couple weeks ago, when the rice shortage hit Asia, I wrote an analysis that anyone with the least expertise in Agriculture in Asia could have written: That the rice shortage was multifaceted.It is well known that one reason for the shortage is the increased prosperity of Southern and South East Asia, due to globalization. So we see out local rice land being covered with homes and shops, and we also see Chicken farms and hatcheries on the less fertile land. You see, with the increase in prosperity, people are eating more protein, and here that means fish (Pond raised fish) and chicken (chicken farming). All three of these things mean loss of Rice land, and diverting rice to poultry production.

Starvation is rare in today’s modern world, thanks to the increase in prosperity. Usually famines are due to bad government policies (China in 1960, Viet Nam in 1990, North Korea and Zimbabwe this year) or local disasters (Myamar today).

Bush’s remarks on India were merely complimenting India for it’s growing prosperity. A country that for hundreds of years was known for it’s poverty and starvation now has joined China and the “Tiger economies” of Southeast Asia as major players in today’s world economy.

And with prosperity,  the middle class is growing, along with a better diet. Better diets usually mean animal based protein, such as fish, milk, eggs, or meat, and to produce these items you have to feed grain to animals or to farm raised fish.

So why were his remarks spun and taken out of context and reported as if he criticized India?

It’s the election.

As Hillary Clinton has found out, much of the US press is determined to elect the very left wing Senator Obama as the next president, never mind his lack of experience or simplistic ideas in foreign policy. Obama is a Democrat, facing a more experienced and wiser McCain. Obama, however, is far to the left of the average American (unlike the Clintons).

The only way to have Obama win is to keep Bush’s popularity down, stress that the war on terror is wrong, (or hint that Bush made it up, after all, no one else supports it).  The next step is to paint McCain as a Bush clone, never mind that politically they are in different wings of the Republican party.

In other words, Bush’s words were spun to create mischief and to promote Anti Americanism in India, a major ally in the war on terror.

But the misreporting of Bush’s remarks is not the only way that some groups are spinning a seasonal rice shortage for political advantage.

The population control folks are using it here to bash the Catholic church, never mind that Natural Family planning has lowered the birth rate, that the Catholic stress on marriage and self restraint has resulted in a  low HIV rate, or that condoms are available at the checkout counters of the local grocery store.The Green types are using the “food shortage” to push global warming, never mind that the regional weather problems that were behind the problems include cold spells in the Middle East and typhoons that happen periodically everywhere for centuries.

The Anti Green types are using the “food shortage” to bash biodiesel and ethanol, never mind that Brazil’s ethanol uses sugarcane, and Malaysia’s coconut biodiesel isn’t using rice fields.

And those seeking to spread GM crops as “Green revolution II” are using the rice shortage as an argument that these high producing hybrids should be pushed as a solution.

So everyone has an agenda.

Even in the Philippines, the “rice shortage” has taken the latest multimillion dollar scandals off the front page. The Philippine government now supplies subsidized cheap food to the poor, and every day, we see TV commercials advertising the food subsidies, commercials that end with a prosperous mother in a prosperous house saying “Salamat Gloria” to the President.

So the next time you read a newspaper article that makes you angry, just consider the source.

Blogs are supposed to be opinionated, but it’s ashamed when the press deliberately allows itself to be politicized to promote agendas.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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