A new worldwide spike in agricultural commodity and food prices is generating both predictable and extraordinary fallouts. The search for causes once again leads to a conjuncture of flawed policies in trade, environment, finance and agriculture that is likely to produce more dangerous volatility in years to come. Over the past year, food prices around the world shot sharply upward, surpassing the previous price surge in 2007-2008 to set a new record, as measured by UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization.
In February, the UN’s food price index rose for the eighth consecutive month, to the highest level since at least 1990. As a result, since 2010 began, roughly another 44 million people have quietly crossed the threshold into malnutrition, joining 925 million already suffering from lack of food. If prices continue to rise, this food crisis will push the ranks of the hungry toward a billion people, with another two billion suffering from “hidden malnutrition” of inadequate diets, nearly all in the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. That deprivation will shorten lives and stunt young minds, hitting the most vulnerable populations, such as the urban poor of food importing countries in cities like Cairo, Tunis and Dhaka.
“Diet Hard: With A Vengeance,” David Moberg, In These Times, 3/24/11: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/7112/diet_hard_with_a_vengeance
Student Researcher: Aluna Soupholphakdy, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Professor Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University