Read’ems on the Food Crisis

I was going to write about the food crisis that’s causing riots around the world, since this is one story we need to know about yet there’s not enough room for it to share the frontpage with the BS non-story of the day (really, has anything new been said at the latest Petraeus/Crocker hearings?). But after doing some research, I’ve found a few perfectly good stories that should be read. And since I’m feeling like a lazy blogger lately, I’ll just post the links:

Rice races to record high” – The Independent, 4/8/08

How Countries Worsen the Food Price Crisis” – U.S. News and World Report, 4/9/08

Crop switch worsens the global food crisis“, – People and the Planet, 4/7/08

I consider all three articles as must reads, but if you want a summary of the points…  Food producing nations are cutting exports; production of biofuels is taking food away from the global market; grains needed to feed to growing meat eating populations of China and India is also taking food off the market; foods like rice have become prized commodities because their increasing costs mean that sellers are sitting on the goods, waiting for prices to go up; and global warming may be leading to bad harvests, but either way violent storms around the world have increased and it’s effected production.  

Even though this doesn’t strike the rich, meat eating countries as hard as it does the third world, at some point we’ll have to address this.  Unless we like seeing global wars and famines.

I’m wondering if any presidential candidates have even mentioned it yet…

8 Responses to “Read’ems on the Food Crisis”

  1. Kat says:

    How exciting! My first visit here, and I find someone who’s interested in the global food crisis. Goodonya, and here are a few more articles I found last night:

    With little to eat other than ‘cookies’ made of dirt, cooking oil, and salt, desperate Haitains stormed the presidential palace yesterday, as UN peacekeepers tried to drive them away with rubber bullets and tear gas.

    In response to Egypt’s escalating bread crisis, Mubarak just ordered the military to bake and distribute more bread.

    To help quell growing unrest, the U.S. just vowed to sell the Philippines as much rice as they need.

    Rising food prices could lead to an economic and humanitarian ‘tsunami’ in Africa.

    Food riots could spread, UN chief warns.

    Demand for rice threatens global food supplies.

    Stuffed and Starved: As Food Riots Break Out Across the Globe, Raj Patel Details “The Hidden Battle for the World Food System”.

    Louisiana’s food banks just asked for $15 million in state help. Here’s why.

    One positive, found in Wheat, poppies and the Taliban: Since wheat prices have doubled over the past year, Afghan farmers are more likely to plant wheat this year, rather than opium poppies.

    Meanwhile (as if all of the above isn’t bad enough), the IMF just apologized for being asleep at the wheel, and warned that, due to the $1 trillion lost in the credit crisis, the risk of global recession is rising, the Fed is projecting worried about a ‘prolonged and severe’ downturn, US gas is expected to climb to $4 per gallon this summer, the infrastructure that delivers water to US cities is desperately in need of repairs, the GAO says federal employees have charged millions of dollars to their government credit cards for Internet dating, tailor-made suits, lingerie, lavish dinners and other questionable expenses, and millions of US families are losing their pets along with their homes (most heart-wrenching example).

    Looks like, at the very least, we’d best start planting our ‘victory gardens’.

    (author of the unfortunately prescient post, Let them eat …jellyfish)

  2. Kat says:

    One more food crisis article – from timeonline, April 09:

    Zimbabwe faces starvation as mobs rampage through farms.


  3. Kat says:

    Could someone here please moderate – and post – my earlier comment, submitted about 8 hours ago.


  4. Mark says:

    I won’t include Zimbabwe in the world food crisis, since their problems are entirely the fault of their dictator.
    But, yes, the Presidential candidates have weighed in on this issue when they decided that a couple hundred more votes in the Iowa caucuses were more important than starving third world children. Corn ethanol subsidies are perhaps the single most unconscionable thing that our government does – yes, even more unconscionable than funding the war in Iraq. I’ve beaten the drum against them and pointed out the resulting starvation almost since I started blogging last August.
    Unfortunately, everyone except for us libertarians (and a handful of contrarian environmentalists) patted themselves on the back after December’s ridiculous welfare program for agribus…..err, energy bill.

  5. tas says:

    I’ve recovered your comment, Kat — sorry about it getting eaten. WordPress’s spam filters suck up any comment with more than 2-3 links in it, regardless of its content. And thank you for the links, I have a lot to read now.

    On Ziimbabwe and Africa in general, Zimbabwe has always been in a crisis for food or anything else due to Mugabe’s incompetence as an executive. He redistributed his country’s land away from professional farmers to his cronies who couldn’t farm for a lick, theen then he has the audacity to blame England for all of his problems.

    With the rest of Africa, a couple of articles I read mentioned that when food prices began to rise, many African nations decided to devel into their food reserves rather than purchase expensive food, hedging their bets on food dropped in price again. Unfortunately, they hedged wrongly. That’s worth mentioning, through as this food crisis goes on, the fault will be shifted further away from the food reserve policiies of different nations.

  6. Yeah, I just wanted to stop by and apologize to Kat as well. There is no such thing as a perfect commenting system; I’m sure we could go without the spam filter, but then we would also have to pick through porn advertisements just to get to the substantive posts.

    We could also do those, you know, type this random serious of characters deals, but nine times out of ten I can’t manage to make it through those things, so I’m not sure we can do that.

    We’ll continue to go through options though.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Mark says:

    One thing I forgot to mention. Another contributing factor to all of this is the EU-driven hysteria over genetically modified foods. This hysteria has led several countries (Zambia, I think, comes to mind) to actually reject huge shipments of GM corn due to a completely baseless hysteria. Even to the extent this results in less GM corn being produced (it doesn’t really), by curbing demand for GM, you are increasing prices for corn more generally. On top of that, non-GM corn costs more to produce.

  8. Kat says:

    <a href=

    Global investment funds and the weak dollar are largely to blame for high world food prices, a senior official of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization said on Thursday.

    “The crisis is a speculative attack and it will last,” said Jose Graziano, the UN food and farm organization’s regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean.

    “This is not a conspiracy theory,” he said.

    “The lack of confidence in the (U.S.) dollar has led investment funds to look for higher returns in commodities … first metals and then foods,” Graziano told a news conference in the capital.

    Investors have speculated in commodities including wheat, corn and rice because stocks in recent years have been drawn down by rising demand in emerging markets and supply shortages due to adverse climate in key producer nations, Graziano said.

    “Speculative attacks become possible when you have low reserves,” Graziano said.
    more at the link…

    World Bank says poor countries need 500 mln usd to offset rising food prices
    World Bank President Robert Zoellick today called on international governments to help poor countries offset the rising cost of food prices, and said governments need to offer at least 500 mln usd in assistance.

    Zoellick’s call for a ‘new deal on global food policy’ is intended to address the escalating cost of food, which he called ‘a growing emergency.’

    In other words, we’re subsidizing greedy commodity traders — in addition to subprime mortgage lenders. Not to mention the grand theft of the great and glorious grocery store and gas station stealth tax.

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