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

Saturday, January 29, 2011
By Paul Martin

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.

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