‘One poor harvest away from chaos’
Millions of the world’s poorest people and the state of the global economy are threatened by the food price rises, writes Geoffrey Lean.
By Geoffrey Lean
‘Within a decade,” promised the top representative of the world’s mightiest country, “no man, woman or child will go to bed hungry.”
Dr Henry Kissinger, at the height of his powers as US Secretary of State, was speaking to the landmark 1974 World Food Conference. Since then, the number of hungry people worldwide has almost exactly doubled: from 460 million to 925 million.
And this week the airwaves have been full of warnings that the formidable figure could be about to increase further, as a new food crisis takes hold. Some experts warned that the world could be on the verge of a “nightmare scenario” of cut‑throat competition for the control of shrinking supplies.
The cause of such alarm? On Wednesday, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reported that global food prices had hit a record high and were likely to go on rising, entering what Abdolreza Abbassian, its senior grains economist, called “danger territory”.