A friend of mine sent me this article. Granted it is from a website with a left leaning perspective – it draws on information from UN, US and other government agencies from around the globe. I am posting it because sometimes I think we forget we live on a planet, with weather, that grows food.
Severe Food Shortages, Price Spikes Threaten World Population
Worldwide food prices have risen sharply and supplies have dropped this year, according to the latest food outlook of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The agency warned December 17 that the changes represent an ³unforeseen and unprecedented² shift in the global food system, threatening billions with hunger and decreased access to food.
The FAO¹s food price index rose by 40 percent this year, on top of the already high 9 percent increase the year before, and the poorest countries spent 25 percent more this year on imported food. The prices for staple crops, including wheat, rice, corn and soybeans, all rose drastically in 2007, pushing up prices for grain-fed meat, eggs and dairy products and spurring inflation throughout the consumer food market.
Driving these increases are a complex range of developments, including rapid urbanization of populations and growing demand for food stuffs in key developing countries such as China and India, speculation in the commodities markets, increased diversion of feedstock crops into the production of biofuels, and extreme weather conditions and other natural disasters associated with climate change.
Because of the long-term and compounding nature of all of these factors, the problems of rising prices and decreasing supplies in the food system are not temporary or one-time occurrences, and cannot be understood as cyclical fluctuations in supply and demand.
The world reserves of cereals are dwindling. In the past year, wheat stores declined 11 percent. The FAO notes that this is the lowest level since the UN began keeping records in 1980, while the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reported that world wheat stocks may have fallen to 47-year lows. By FAO figures, the falloff in wheat stores equals about 12 weeks worth of global consumption.