Sunday, April 27, 2008

Global Food Crisis - The Story You Might Have Missed

Here in our country we see a limit to the number of bags of rice we can buy at Cosco and it’s big news. Elsewhere in the world there is no limit on rice, there simply is none! The world stands on the brink of a gigantic food shortage.

Drought, pollution and floods have all caused problems in the world food supply and grains are the canary in the coal mine. Add to that the misguided push for ethanol based fuels, where food is converted to fuel and burned and the crisis gets an extra nudge. It is all driving prices through the roof for food.

The Washington Post reports on the global crisis saying,

Food was becoming the new gold. Investors fleeing Wall Street's mortgage-related strife plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into grain futures, driving prices up even more. By Christmas, a global panic was building. With fewer places to turn, and tempted by the weaker dollar, nations staged a run on the American wheat harvest.

Foreign buyers, who typically seek to purchase one or two months' supply of wheat at a time, suddenly began to stockpile. They put in orders on U.S. grain exchanges two to three times larger than normal as food riots began to erupt worldwide. This led major domestic U.S. mills to jump into the fray with their own massive orders,
fearing that there would soon be no wheat left at any price.
The high prices are throwing the world food supply seriously out of kilter and that is leading to political unrest in many countries. Governments from Haiti to Malaysia are teetering because of the food shortage.

Meanwhile, we in this country see gas prices rising to record levels and those will soon be followed by higher food prices. The hike will be a result of not only the increased cost in transportation, but a genuine shortage of food worldwide.

This is a problem the next administration will have to seriously take a look at, and the answers will no doubt be as difficult as the questions raised by the crisis.

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