Food Expert: Drought to Trigger Global Crisis ‘Very Soon’

Wednesday, August 15, 2012
By Paul Martin
Wednesday, 15 Aug 2012

A global food crisis may “hit us very soon” as a drought ravages corn crops in the U.S., the world’s largest grower, the International Food Policy Research Institute said.
Governments must act to prevent the crisis, said Shenggen Fan, director-general of the institute. The U.S. should end its biofuel program that uses 40 percent of its corn output, to boost supplies to meat producers, Fan said.

The Washington-based institute, supported by governments and international organizations, is part of the Agricultural Market Information System formed by the United Nations to monitor food costs.

“The major problem is policy,” Fan said in an interview with Susan Li on Bloomberg Television’s “First Up”. “Biofuel production has to be stopped. That actually pushed global food prices higher and many poor people, particularly women and children, have suffered.”

The price of corn, used in everything from food to livestock feed to sweeteners, surged to a record $8.49 a bushel on Aug. 10 and is up 57 percent since June 15. That helped drive up global food inflation tracked by the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization 6.2 percent in July from a month earlier, the biggest monthly jump since November 2009.

Corn gained as the worst Midwest drought in half a century cut yields in a nation that produced 36 percent of the 2011-2012 world harvest and accounted for 39 percent of global trade in the grain, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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