Soaring global food prices spark fears of social unrest
Thursday, Jan. 06, 2011
Food prices have soared to record levels around the world, raising fears that poor countries could face a crisis similar to the one that led to rioting and rationing two years ago.
“We are entering a danger territory,” Abdolreza Abbassian, an economist at the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) told reporters Wednesday.
The FAO’s food price index, a formula based on the wholesale price of 55 products including rice, meat, wheat, milk and cheese, reached a record high in December. The index has risen in each of the past six months and it hit 214.7 in December. The previous record was 213.5 set at the height of the food crisis in June of 2008, when soaring prices led to riots in several countries such as Haiti, Somalia and Cameroon while others, including India and Vietnam, restricted rice exports.
“There is still room for prices to go up much higher, if, for example, the dry conditions in Argentina tend to become a drought and if we start having problems with winterkill in the northern hemisphere for the wheat crops,” Mr. Abbassian said. “I am feeling less optimistic than I was in November – we have not had much good news.”