Interview of Fabian Molina, President of Juso Switzerland, about the popular referendum initative to ban speculation on food.

Juso Switzerland  is promoting the initiative, which would ban banks, investment funds and trading companies having their headquarters in Switzerland from investing in financial instruments tied to food commodities.
Speculating in basic foodstuffs can distort prices and lead to famines and poverty around the world, according to the proponents of the initiative, backed by a coalition of humanitarian, farming, and political groups. The decision  will be taken by citizens in a national referendum on February 28th.

How did Juso Schweiz think of launching this initiative against speculation on food ? How did you campaign to bring it to the referendum ? 

Today 800 million people live still in hunger, more than a billion are undernourished. The speculation of a few gamblers behind their high-trading computers worsens this problem, because it creates more volatility and price jumps on food products. For people who spend up to 80 percent of their daily income on food, this is disastrous. Switzerland, with its big finance place and its commodity sector, plays an important role in this business. This is why we collected more than 100.000 signatures for a referendum for a constitutional amendment, which will now be voted the 28th of February.

Why is it necessary to end this kind of speculation ? What kind of consequences does it have on people’s lives?

After the nutrition crisis in 2008 most countries started to understand that the complete deregulation of the finance market was in this case not the best idea. But since then, an additional 100 million people have been suffering from hunger. According to the UN and the world bank, speculation played a key role in that crisis. Under Obama the US implemented a law to regulate speculation. The EU should follow in 2017. Without a regulation against the harmful finance speculation on food, Switzerland will become an oasis for gamblers.

What are the main arguments of your opponents ? Who are they ? 

Our opponents, the big business associations and the bourgeois parties, argue that it would create a loss of workplaces and decrease our attractiveness. In fact, it’s very difficult for them to hide their ideological problem with the idea of regulation. The initiative would not change a lot for the Swiss economy. But it would be an important step in the fight against world hunger.

How are you proposing to implement it ? 

The US and the EU regulation differs between the useful hedging and the harmful speculation. We want to implement exactly this separation. The hedging is an important instrument of prize guarantees for farmers and food dealers. But the finance speculation produces no value and has nothing to do with the real economy.

What are your chances of success ? What can we do to help you ?

It’s difficult to say. We are leading in the last poll. But our opponents represent a clear political majority and invest an enormous amount of money to beat us. It would be very motivating and helpful for our activists, if you could send us solidarity pictures or cool stories of speculators in your countries for the media.

About The Author