The Food Bomb
By Barry Lando
On the face of it, the protests currently sweeping across the Arab world have been driven by overwhelmingly leaderless, frustrated, impoverished, unemployed youths battling geriatric dictatorial regimes that are supported by pampered militaries—and the United States. Fueling all these protests, from Egypt to Yemen to Jordan to Tunisia to Algeria, is another common factor, one that also fueled the French Revolution: rocketing food prices.
A perfect storm of natural disasters around the globe, rising oil prices and rapacious speculators have produced the current dramatic rise in food prices, but even had these events not occurred, food prices would be spiraling upward, and roiling the planet, no matter who was governing.
What is outrageous is that our leaders know this—they’ve known it for years—but, like deer transfixed by the lights of an onrushing truck—they’ve done precious little to avert catastrophe. Indeed, rather than deal with impending disaster, they’ve made the situation even worse.
The statistics are stark: Almost 7 billion people currently inhabit this planet, 1 billion of whom are on the brink of starvation. By 2050, the population will be 9.2 billion, including many with higher incomes and thus much larger and demanding appetites.
The bottom line is the world will need 70 percent more food in 2050 than it produced in 2000. But at the same time, the resources available are plummeting. The amount of agricultural land per person on the planet will have dropped from 10.6 acres in 1961 to 3.7 acres in 2050.