Tuesday, July 19, 2011

TIME: What's causing the rice in global food prices?


QUOTE: '"Taking a look around us today, it would be easy to conclude that Malthus was prescient. Food prices are near historic highs, driven upward by an ever larger, ever hungrier population. Every report of drought or flooding raises fears of global shortages. About 925 million people go to bed hungry every night. And every day we add 219,000 mouths to feed, while the land, water and other resources needed to produce additional food edge closer to their apparent limits. This intensifying "natural inequality" leaves some experts sounding like modern-day Malthuses. "No civilization has ever survived the ongoing destruction of its natural support system," says Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute. "And neither will ours."'

 A little bit of "overpopulation" fear-mongering perhaps, but there's no question that there is upward pressure on food prices (like the 37% overall increase in the past year I discussed a couple weeks ago on this blog).

Another quote: 'So was Malthus right? Not exactly. Even though the world's population has increased about sevenfold since his time, food production has more or less kept pace, at least enough that we don't suffer mass starvation. (Millions have starved for political reasons.) Nevertheless, the global food industry is at a crucial point. In the 2010-11 season, we consumed more grain than we produced, and food prices rose dramatically as a result. Globally, food costs 39% more today than just a year ago, according to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Grain reserves are in decline relative to our needs.'

 "Millions have starved for political reasons?"  That's enough to make it a little worrisome what the White House is pushing these days.... 

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