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The Global Food Crisis - written November 2008

The Global Food Crisis - written November 2008

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Derham 1 Mark Derham Professor Jessie B.

Powell English 102 02 November 2008 The Global Food Crisis: What Caused The Food Insecurity? Turn on the news channel for an hour or surf the internet news websites, and one will likely see several reports about it, the global food crisis. Everyone everywhere is talking about the crisis; entire websites are devoted to the cause; and countries everywhere are concerned. Supermarkets have even set limits on how much of certain grains one can buy. So, what caused the current food crisis? Everything from biofuels to the rise of oil prices; natural disasters have played their part as well. These events and more have raised the price of food dramatically and caused a shortage that is affecting the entire world. The price of food has risen dramatically in the past few years putting a pinch on the wallets of everyone. “The World Bank estimates the global price of rice to have doubled since last Christmas, and food prices in general to have risen by 83% in three years, about half that increase coming in 2007” (Rosen 1). The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization reported in 2002 that one in every six human beings suffers from chronic hunger; that number has worsened since (Rosen 1). With economies suffering worldwide, the price of food is bound to rise and the number of people who suffer from hunger is likely to go downhill even more. Every time one stops and fills up their car, they feel the price of rising oil prices. “Higher energy prices have contributed to higher farm commodity prices by increasing

Derham 2 costs of production and by increasing the demand for biofuels” (Westhoff 4). The rise of crude oil prices from $60 in 2007 to over $125 in 2008 has raised the cost of transporting agricultural products (King 1). Higher transportation costs affect everyone. Commercial shipments cost more, and likewise, consumer transport to and from the store costs more. The higher prices of oil have made biofuels they way of the future, which has further encouraged expanded production levels. With fossil fuels being a non-renewable source and continuing to rise in price, biofuels are being produced at a faster rate than in the past. While biofuels are potentially a renewable and efficient energy base, they are not all good. In order to make biofuels, grains, one such grain being corn, are needed (Tenenbaum 2). This diverts food that could potentially be consumed by the public. The United States biofuels production alone accounts for a 43% increase in global grain consumption (Westhoff 3). The United States is not the only culprit when it comes to diverting grains into biofuels though. Brazil and Europe produce a large amount of biofuels as well (Tenenbaum 2). Other crops besides corn are beginning to take root in the biofuels industry with Malaysia and Indonesia creating biofuels from palm oil. This has created a shortage causing prices to sky rocket by 70%; thus, making it unaffordable to many Malaysians who rely on it on a daily basis for their cooking needs (Tenenbaum 2). Grain production must increase in order to accommodate the biofuels industry and feed the world. If grain productions do not increase, the amount of biofuels being produced must be lowered in order to provide food for the world. Natural disasters over the past few years have been a cause for the concern as well. Regional natural disasters such as the 2004 tsunami in SE Asia and the

Derham 3 Bangladesh cyclones in 2007 have been destroying food crops, and limiting agricultural production levels. Another large impact to food crops came from “poor weather in the breadbasket regions during 2007, including a severe drought in Australia and poor growing conditions in Russia, Eastern Europe, and parts of the United States” (Tenenbaum 3). These poor weather conditions have destroyed many crops causing even more shortages. The ever expanding Asian countries have now begun to play their part in the crisis. With the development of a larger middle class, more and more citizens from Asia are eating meat and dairy products (Tenenbaum 3). India and China alone are also responsible for about 28% of the increase in global grain consumption (Westhoff 3). These two factors are putting more strain on the global food market. As a result of more meat and dairy products being consumed, farmers have to breed an expanding amount of cattle. Cattle require food as well, much more than the average human, causing more grains to be diverted from food exports. With the development of a food crisis, several countries, including Vietnam; Russia; Argentina and Kazakhstan have restricted their amount of food exports as well as reduced their import hurdles (Tenenbaum 3). Still other countries such as India have raised the prices of their exported food in order to attempt to limit the number of companies that want to export food out of the country (Hookway 1). This limitation on food exports coupled with farmers throughout Asia hoarding their crops because of fears of a shortage has further exasperated the situation (Hookway 1). A few countries, such as the United States, that do not rely on exports worry little about this issue, but

Derham 4 developing nations that rely heavily on importing food products are being greatly affected by the situation. As long as these issues continue to occur, the global food crisis will continue to become a bigger issue, especially among the developing nations. Speculation from news agencies and panic from consumers over the high food prices will continue to cause prices to rise at a faster pace. An action by the United Nations or even the United States that causes a global response is necessary in order to relieve the current food shortage and quell the current food crisis. Without immediate action, the situation will only continue to deteriorate.

Derham 5 Works Cited Rosen, Fred. "The Basic Food Position: 2008." NACLA Report on the Americas 41.4 (July 2008): 4-4. Research Library. EBSCO. APUS Online Library. 21 Oct. 2008 http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.apus.edu/login.aspx? direct=true&db=aph&AN=32874406&site=ehost-live. Westhoff, Pat. "Farm Commodity Prices: Why the Boom and What Happens Now?" Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm & Resource Issues 23.2 (2008 2nd Quarter 2008): 6-10. Research Library. EBSCO. APUS Online Library. 21 Oct. 2008 http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.apus.edu/login.aspx? direct=true&db=aph&AN=33554095&site=ehost-live. King, Neil Jr. "World News: Oil's Rapid Rise Stirs Talk of $200 a Barrel This Year; Long List of Factors Keeps Prices High; Releasing Reserves?" Wall Street Journal [New York, N.Y.] 7 Jul 2008, Eastern edition: A.6. ABI/INFORM Global. Research Library. ProQuest. APUS Online Library. 22 Oct. 2008 http://www.proquest.com.ezproxy.apus.edu/ Tenenbaum, David J. "Diversion of Crops Could Cause More Hunger." Environmental Health Perspectives 116.6 (June 2008): A254-A257. Research Library. EBSCO. APUS Online Library. 21 Oct. 2008 http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.apus.edu/login.aspx? direct=true&db=aph&AN=33142798&site=ehost-live. Hookway, James. "World News: Rice Hoarding Pressures Supplies; Growers Across Asia Hold Back Crops For Higher Prices." Wall Street Journal [New York, N.Y.] 31 Mar. 2008, Eastern edition: A.11. ABI/INFORM Global. Research Library. ProQuest. APUS Online Library. 22 Oct. 2008 http://www.proquest.com.ezproxy.apus.edu/

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