Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The global food crisis deepens

From: Tehran Times


The list of countries on the brink of disaster because of the global food crisis is growing by the week. Terrorism and security experts predict widespread social and political unrest and violent conflict in the second and third world.

Last week the United Nations’ World Food Program announced it is to provide U.S. $1.2 billion (£600 million) in additional food aid in the 62 countries hit hardest by the food and fuel crisis.

And Save the Children Sunday launched an emergency appeal to help children in Ethiopia who are suffering from increasing levels of hunger. The charity said a combination of drought and escalating food prices has left 4.6 million people urgently in need of food. In scenes reminiscent of the famines of the 1980s, about 736,000 of these are children under the age of five, a group which is particularly vulnerable to the effects of malnutrition.

More so than terrorism or global warming, food security will become so critical it will change global governance and result in civil unrest and food wars.

“It is clear which countries are going to be at risk,” Graham Hutchings of Oxford Analytica Daily Brief, which provides country-specific daily risk analysis to political leaders, academics, businesses and NGOs, told the Sunday Herald.

“Those who are net importers of food and those with weak governments will fall, in all likelihood. The overthrow of the leader in Haiti in April over food prices is the shape of things to come.

“Those which have come across our radar are Cambodia, parts of India, the Philippines, central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and African countries such as Senegal, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast. There have been food riots in Egypt, Yemen and Malaysia.”

Hutchings warned there is a very real risk of an angry popular and political backlash against the globalization and international capitalism from the world’s growing hungry. It is understood that one of the major drivers of the food crisis is financial speculation by the West. Capital flight from the subprime market into secure commodities such as wheat futures has pushed the price of food beyond the reach of the developing world.

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