Dialogue:______Read aloud in pairs

A: Are you for or against self-sufficiency?


B: I definitely think that countries should be self-sufficient in food and basic



A: But that's impossible in the modern world where countries have such large

populations and economies are so interdependent.


B: What I'm saying is that we are too interdependent. Perhaps our populations

are too big. That's why I'm advocating self-sufficiency as a goal.


A: Then can you tell me what's wrong with helping one another out. If Middle

East countries which are covered with desert can earn money from oil production and

if mountainous countries like Japan can export good cars, why shouldn't they import

their food?


B: Well, firstly we should ask if they should be using up all that oil. Future

generations may use it more wisely. Does the world really need more and

more motor cars? How will Japan sustain such a large population if countries

decide to change direction?


A: I expect that Japan could adapt. It has a highly skilled work-force and a good

technological base.


B: That doesn't mean it will switch its exports to products which the world

really needs.

A: Well, why should Japan be self-sufficient in food then?


B: You see, the alternative is to buy food on the world market. We all know that

When demand rises, so does the price. And when the price of food goes up, the poor

countries which really need it are the last to afford it.


A: But many poor countries are food producers. Surely, they can only benefit

from better prices.


B: The multinational companies which own the banana and sugar plantations may

profit, but very little money is distributed to hungry people without jobs.


A: More demand should create a few more jobs!


B: I doubt that pay and conditions are very good. Besides, the production lines

are often highly mechanized.


A: Come off it! Agriculture in the Third World is still fairly labour intensive.


B: Even so, not all Third World countries are food producers. The hamburger

farms of those that are, make very wasteful use of the land and the profits go

mainly to foreign investors. Very little is distributed to people who really need money

to buy food.