Monday, April 21, 2008

World Hunger And War

In the past few weeks there has been a number of articles detailing the world's present food shortage/crisis. Because hunger throughout history has been one of the main reasons for conflicts to arise, this post will examine this evolving situation in depth.

When I was in China 20 years ago .... and in China last month .... I cannot adequately explain in words how much everything has changed in what is really a short period of time. Much of the stress in the world is now coming from the demands of people in China and India for a better life. These demands have resulted in prices for commodities such as oil and minerals increasing, but what has not been analyzed are the stresses that these demands are now putting on the food supply.

Western food is very addictive. It is now also the diet of choice for the growing middle classes of China and India. Add to this demand the need to provide bio-fuels as mandated by Western governments, the spread of disease on grain stocks in Ethiopia and the wheat growing regions of Iran and Pakistan/India, drought in Australia, and the rise in prices for fertilizers and fuel .... we are now approaching a perfect storm for food stocks to become very expensive or strictly rationed.

A summation of recent articles are the following:

Across Globe, Empty Bellies Bring Rising Anger -- New York Times

Rising Food Prices 'A Silent Tsunami' -- The Telegraph

ADB Senior Official Says Era Of Cheap Food Over -- Breitbart

Record Rice Export Slump Forecast --

A Drought In Australia, A Global Shortage Of Rice -- New York Times

Food Shortages: How Will We Feed The World? -- Telegraph

G8 Summit To Discuss Food Price Rises -- Financial Times

Markets Rain Volatility On U.S. Farmers And, Eventually, On Consumers -- International Herald Tribune

Amid U.S Farm Boom, Fears Grow Of A Collapse -- International Herald Tribune

UN Chief Warns World Must Urgently Increase Food Production -- Breitbart

Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket of the World -- New York Sun

Japan's Hunger Becomes A Dire Warning For Other Nations -- The Age

In Lean Times, Biotech Grains Are Less Taboo -- International Herald Tribune

My Comment: In the western world, food prices are hitting everyone's pocket book. In the Third World, we are now talking of starvation. Political instability and the demands among a hungry population can only produce an unhealthy brew of conflict and turmoil. While we in the West have ample supplies to feed ourselves, high prices will result in demands (i.e. price controls, limiting trade in foodstuffs, etc.) that in the medium to long term probably will make a bad situation worse.

Will hungry people cause wars ..... the answer is probably no. But hungry people can cause governments to pursue policies that in the end will result in arm conflicts.

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