Hungry For Profit

Is Third World famine the price we're paying for our food?
by
Year Released
1986
Film Length(s)
86 mins
Remote video URL

Introduction

An investigation of significant human and environmental impacts of global agribusiness. In Manufacturing Consent, Noam Chomsky wrote WNET lost Gulf and Western funding after broadcasting Hungry for Profit. Chomsky added that even before it was shown, “in anticipation of negative corporate reaction, station officials ‘did all we could to get the program sanitized (according to one station source).’ CEO Bludhorn of Gulf & Western complained the program was “virulently anti-business,” and that airing the program was “not the behavior of a ‘friend’ of the corporation.”

The British Economistmagazine wrote “Most people believe that WNET would not make the same mistake again.”

In contrast, the American Association for the Advancement of Science wrote a glowing review, stating Hungry for Profit is "Clear and convincing. Excellent for studies of population, land use, food economics, international banking, social organization, history and comparative government."

Featured review

Filmed on five continents, this provocative documentary takes a close look at the global agribusiness system, which is turning the world's food supply into a global supermarket, buying food at the lowest prices—seemingly regardless of the effect on small farmers and local populations—and selling it at the highest price and the greatest profit whenever possible. A clearheaded and moving film made about the rise of global agribusiness and the disturbing effects of first-world economic concerns on the third-world food supply...[m]any of the issues investigated remain at the core of the global hunger debate.
Gourmet Magazine February 2007
Gourmet Magazine February 2007

Synopsis

Important background that helps explain protests against the World Bank and IMF. Hungry for Profit is a provocative investigation of the link between world hunger and the global agribusiness system. Filmed in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Included are farmers of small farms, farmers removed from their farms taken over for plantation farming, farm workers living like slaves working for plantation owners, economists, religious leaders, a representative of the global agribusiness industries, an owner of a plantation growing and exporting its crops, a US Senator and Representative.

Reviews

Clear and convincing. Excellent for studies of population, land use, food economics, international banking, social organization, history and comparative government.
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Extremely well done and haunting. Sure to touch many people. Classroom teachers could interrupt the film in strategic places and initiate a lively discussion. Strongly recommended. Excellent.
World Hunger Program
American Friends Service Committee
No other documentary conveys the role of agri-business and the importance of 'food first' to the hungry... Powerful and eye-opening.
Institute for Food & Development Policy
Institute for Food & Development Policy
Sets forth the provocative proposition that the wealthier nations of the Western World are making the hungry nations even hungrier.
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
I'm glad somebody had the courage to tell this story!
Bread for the World
Bread for the World
Probing, clarifying a complicated chain of cause and effect.
Progressive
Progressive
An intelligent and merciless investigation into famine, with global agribusiness as the main culprit.
Variety
Variety
Clearly makes the connection between first world corporate profit motive and Developing World hunger. People in the United States need to know more about how our actions affect others around the world. Hungry for Profit vividly conveys that message.
Interfaith Hunger Coalition of Southern California
Interfaith Hunger Coalition of Southern California
One of the best videos on this topic.
Development Update
Development Update
Filmed in eight developing countries, this US documentary looks at the connections between world hunger and global agribusiness. Multinational corporations, argues director Robert Richter, buy up huge tracts of land in the developing world to produce food for export, displacing local farmers and leaving the host countries less able to feed their own people.
Moving Pictures
Moving Pictures
Public television station WNET lost its corporate funding from Gulf+Western after the station showed the documentary Hungry for Profit, which contains material critical of multinational corporate activities in the Third World. Even before the program was shown, in anticipation of negative corporate reaction, station officials "did all we could to get the program sanitized" (according to one station source). The chief executive of Gulf+Western complained to the station that the program was 'virulently anti-business if not anti-American,' and that the station's carrying the program was not the behavior 'of a friend' of the corporation. The London Economist says that 'Most people believe that WNET would not make the same mistake again.'
Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman
Manufacturing Consent

Awards and Screenings

CINE Golden Eagle
PBS National Broadcast

Director Commentary

It was more than a usual challenge to make this documentary--not only filming it, but also successfully resisting repeated efforts by the public TV station staff I was dealing with, who insisted I delete footage I believed essential to include. They never disclosed that their insistence was because of pressure by a corporate donor to the station, the CEO of a corporation who refused to be interviewed for the documentary and whose practices were part of my investigation.

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