There are Politics in my Food
By admin September 28, 2016

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An anti-Mursi protester chants anti-Mursi slogans during a protest in front of the gate of El-Quba in Cairo

Within the last week Egypt and Russia have decided to take their political rows to the food sector. Historic trading partners in food imports and exports, Russia and Egypt have faced a plethora of ups and downs this year. Dating back to the uprisings of the winter of 2010 leading into the spring of 2011, Russia moved quickly to fill a small gap of sorts that the United States had left when President Obama began scaling back from involvement in the Middle East. July 2013 saw a counter-revolution to the one that brought down the longstanding Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, now bringing down the nation’s first democratically elected president Mohamad Morsi.

Tensions within Egypt over foreign involvement led many to question the United States’ involvement with the party of Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood. This tension created the gap that the scaling back by the United States left, with Russia moving in and quickly scheduling a state visit. Just six months after the military coup, or counter revolution depending which side you take politically, Russia and Egypt signed a historic $2 billion arms deal, financed by its Gulf partners of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The move was seen as a counter measure to the United States’ freezing its $1.3 billion transfer to Egypt dating back to 1973. The deal has led to stronger relations between Russia and Egypt until October 2015 when a Russian commercial jet crashed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula with 224 people on board. Russian authorities suspected foul play by Egyptian airport authorities that discovered there was a 90 percent chance a bomb brought down the jetliner. Egypt has failed to make any reparations or take responsibility for the crash, thus leading to a series of diplomatic missteps between the two nations.

Where the politics tie in with food is the fact that nations often do not exhibit restraint when experiencing political rows. From signing a historic arms deal to the downing of a passenger liner, Russia and Egypt have taken their politics to the food sector. With a population of roughly 93 million people, Egypt is the world’s leading importer of wheat. Over the past couple years; Russia has been a leading exporter of wheat to Egypt. Where that became challenged was this past August when Egypt claimed Russian wheat imports possessed a fungus called ergot, which is known to cause cancer and miscarriages in women. Egypt cancelled its hefty import, causing a crisis within the nation that consumes over three times as much bread as France. Before the Egyptian Parliament could approve any amount of ergot being present in the wheat to avert a larger crisis, Russia cancelled its import of Egyptian citrus fruits, of which Egypt profits hundreds of millions of dollars per year. While Russia and Egypt continue their political row, now through food, the people of both nations undoubtedly suffer the most, as items such as how much carcinogeous fungus could be present in their food are negotiated in order to preserve larger deals such as arms and security. As the world deals with true food insecurity issues the least our governments could do is ensure the food that is available is not used a political football.

For more information:

Egypt allows wheat fungus after row with Russia

Russia revises ban on imports of Egyptian plant products

Egypt country brief

Russia and Egypt sign $2 billion arms deal

Thanks for sharing !

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