February 7, 2011: Wall Street Journal

Lee Proposes Food Crisis Task Force in Korea

"South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Monday called for a task force to help secure a stable supply of food amid growing concerns about global food shortages and rising prices.

While Mr. Lee linked the need for action to possible food shortages triggered by climate change, his comments reflect concerns in South Korea over global food-price volatility, given that the country imports around 70% of its food.

"Chances are growing that the whole world will suffer a food crisis due to climate changes," he said. "We need to be prepared and work out a strategy on agricultural and fishery products...

Across Asia, bad weather, more-affluent populations and underinvestment in agriculture have pushed up prices of items including wheat, rice and onions in India, chilies in Indonesia and water spinach in China.

In response to the price pressures, India last month extended bans on the export of lentils and cooking oil. It also struck a deal with Pakistan to import 1,000 tons of onions, as prices have skyrocketed after severe floods."

Wall Street Journal

February 5, 2011: Paul Krugman, NY Times

Soaring Food Prices

"Here are some percentage changes in world grain production between 2008/2009 and 2010/2011, according to the USDA estimates:

"Overall grain production is down — and it’s down substantially more when you take account of a growing world population. Wheat production (this time not per capita) is way down.

You might ask why a production shortfall of 5% leads to a doubling of prices. Part of the answer is that some kinds of demand are growing faster than population — in particular, China is becoming  a growing importer of feed to meet the demand for meat. But the main point is that the demand for grain is highly price-inelastic: it takes big price rises to induce people to consume less, yet collectively that’s what they must do given the shortfall in production.
Why is production down? Most of the decline in world wheat production, and about half of the total decline in grain production, has taken place in the former Soviet Union — mainly Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. And we know what that’s about: an incredible, unprecedented heat wave."


January 18, 2011: Bloomberg

Record Food Prices Causing Africa Riots Stoking U.S.

"Unrest is starting again. Three people were killed and 420 injured in protests over milk and flour costs in Algeria this month. Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali tried to end a month of protests by promising lower prices for bread, milk and sugar, before handing over power to his prime minister on Jan. 14 and leaving the country.

The Serbian government said Jan. 10 it will consider an export duty on wheat to discourage shipments.South Korea said the following day it plans to increase the supply of some food products to help damp prices.

India, home to 1.2 billion people, halted onion exports in December after prices more than doubled in a year. Opposition parties have said they plan nationwide protests. China sold commodities including sugar and corn from strategic reserves last year to contain inflation that reached 5.1 percent in November, the most in 28 months."

Bloomberg

January 15, 2011: Gwynne Dyer

Riots spread as global food shortage worsens

"Some short-term fixes are possible. If the United States Government ended the subsidies for growing maize (corn) for "bio-fuels", it would return about a quarter of US crop land to food production.

If people ate a little less meat, if more African land was brought into production, if more food was eaten and less was thrown away, then maybe we could buy ourselves another 15 or 20 years before demand really outstripped supply."

Gwynne Dyer, nzherald.co.nz

January 13, 2011: Forbes

On The Verge Of A Global Food Crisis

"The global food situation doesn't look too promising, as floods in Australia and excessively hot weather in Latin America harm harvests, upward pressure is mounting on prices.  According to the FAO, a basket tracking the wholesale cost of food commodities such as wheat, corn, rice, vegetable oils, and meats, has already topped 2008’s peak values, reaching 214.5 points (compared to 213.5 on June 2008).  And, as the USDA cuts its global grain supply outlook, soybean, corn, and wheat prices have spiked, nearing or passing 30-month highs."

October 25, 2010: Guardian UK

Global food crisis forecast as prices reach record highs

"The UN has expressed concern, but there is no effort to remove the imbalances in the food management system that is responsible for the crisis."

Mounting anger has greeted food price inflation of 21% in Egypt in the last year, along with 17% rises in India and similar amounts in many other countries. Prices in the UK have risen 22% in three years."

Guardian


January 28, 2015: Guardian UK

Have we reached "peak food"? Shortages loom as production rates slow.

"Just nine or 10 plants species feed the world. But we found there’s a peak for all these resources. Even renewable resources won’t last forever,” said Ralf Seppelt, of the Helmholtz Centre.
The research, published in the journal Ecology and Society, finds that 16 of the 21 foods examined reached peak production between 1988 and 2008"

Guardian


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