Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"The Great Food Crisis of 2011" by Lester Brown

As the new year begins, the price of wheat is setting an all-time high in the United Kingdom. Food riots are spreading across Algeria. Russia is importing grain to sustain its cattle herds until spring grazing begins. India is wrestling with an 18-percent annual food inflation rate, sparking protests. China is looking abroad for potentially massive quantities of wheat and corn. The Mexican government is buying corn futures to avoid unmanageable tortilla price rises.

Lester's article explains how "both sides of the food supply/demand equation" raise prizes mainly through environmental degradation of arable land, global warming, population growth, increasing consumption and related factors. Disturbingly high numbers ad libitum. It finishes:

The unrest of these past few weeks is just the beginning. It is no longer conflict between heavily armed superpowers, but rather spreading food shortages and rising food prices -- and the political turmoil this would lead to -- that threatens our global future. Unless governments quickly redefine security and shift expenditures from military uses to investing in climate change mitigation, water efficiency, soil conservation, and population stabilization, the world will in all likelihood be facing a future with both more climate instability and food price volatility. If business as usual continues, food prices will only trend upward.

Read the whole article at Foreign Policy or in Danish at Information.

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