Back to the Future: Will Food Riots Become Our Norm?

“In 2008 and in 2011, the world was rocked by riots and by revolutions coinciding with spikes in food prices. Now researchers are projecting that by 2013, food prices will soar to unparalleled heights, causing widespread hunger in the most vulnerable populations and social unrest, with an enormous potential for loss of human life”.

Today, the New York Times covered a startling publication. Research from the New England Complex Systems Institute delineates the potential for a new food crisis.

How have corporations reacted?  Bloomberg reports that many companies are increasing prices for their food products. As one investment banker stated, “it’s commodities, commodities, commodities and whether or not there’s an ability to pass on those costs.” One lone voice, a CEO  is calling for severe changes to the commodities market, while others state that the focus on biofuels has driven up prices.

Is ethanol conversion or increased speculation in commodities to blame? Or both?

In either case, the loss for human life due to hunger should not be a byproduct of activities in the capital markets. Access to food will be hampered as prices become more volatile, just as we saw a few years ago. One question that must be asked and remain in the forefront is can those in already stressed situations carry these costs? Will regulation, like that put forth by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the Fall, be enough?

Global food prices swings affect us all. We cannot just colloquially welcome people to the table. There must be actions behind our words. Providing access to food can be our gateway to sharing, sustainably.

What action do you think is necessary?

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~ by Kate on March 8, 2012.

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