Food insecurity is mounting all over the world. Food riots are already occurring in many countries, such as Algeria. Even marginal increases in food prices will push millions of the poorest people in the world over into starvation. Could famine actually come to America? Could you be effected? Actually record numbers are already receiving food stamps and millions of Americans are already hungry on a daily basis. Can anything be done about that? If so what? Is food being used as a weapon?
'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.
Photo: Getty Images
'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".
That is bad enough for Britain, adding to the inflationary pressures from the soaring cost of oil and other commodities, not to mention the VAT increase. But for the world's poor, who have to spend 80 per cent of their income on food, it could be catastrophic.