World Leaders at Davos Warn of Unrest Caused by High Food Prices

World Leaders at Davos Warn of Unrest Caused by High Food Prices

Davos : Switzerland | Jan 27, 2011 at 2:07 PM PST
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Food Prices Around the World are Increasing

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, leaders warned of the unrest caused by high food prices. The higher food prices were blamed in part by commodity speculators betting on the future food crops. In addition to speculators, rising populations and climate disruptions are putting pressure on food supplies. The move toward using biofuels has created a new demand for crops such as corn that previously moved into the food supply.

France's President Sarkozy called for the leaders to institute some regulations on commodifying food. But this was not met with any enthusiasm.

Competition for food and water around the world is slated to increase sharply over the next 30 years. The world population which is now around 7 billion is expected to increase by another two billion in the next few decades. Currently China(PRC) is the world's biggest food exporter but as more Chinese attain middle class status, the demand for more food will increase there as well.

The cry for increased production and the planting of 'supercrops' may not be the answer either. In the 1960's a surge in food production due to improved crops led to a surge in human populations. The high performing plants exacted a price. The farmers who planted them used more water and fertilizers to get optimum results. The current wave of genetically modified plants on the marketplace remain in the control of the companies who patent the seeds, removing control from the farmer. The large farms of the Russias and N.America require huge monetary investments for equipment. Soil under the large machines becomes compacted and less fertile as the roots of the crops struggle to penetrate the soil.

The great experiment of the Chinese to produce great quantities of food has led in many areas, to severe erosion and loss of topsoil.

Summer of 2010 in Canada saw high bids and a hostile takeover move by a foreign company wishing to control Potash Corp. The future needs of agriculture for fertilizers made this attractive to foreign governments. The takeover bid was defeated and control stays within Canada.

2010 was a harsh one for the severe weather. Crops in Russia were hit with drought, floods in India and Pakistan disrupted crops, China suffered from drought as well, Australia is currently coping with floods. Climatologists tell us that we are to expect more extreme weather which has a direct impact on food production.

The 'have nations' import much of their food from developing nations. They also cope with desperate people who are economic refugees. How much more desperate would those people be knowing there is no food or clean water should they stay in their home countries.

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Produce in Beijing markets is getting too expensive for many.
BMcPherson is based in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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