Latest estimates by UN state that the poorest of the world could be paying 40% more for their basic food needs than what they are paying now. That is 40% that they do not have. Most of these people are stuck in countries with high inflation rates and volatile economies and the prospect of earning more money to meet their needs are, well, not very good.
In a world dominated by the prosperous and where concerns over rising fuel prices take precedence over food prices increasing amounts of food crops have been used to produce fuels for the engines of our cars. Countries like Brazil and the US have been pioneers in this department. You see food crops like corn and sugarcane can produce ethanol and that is a wonderful substitute for the use of petrol.
Big Oil is also in it up to their shirtsleeves and farmers prefer using their land to cultivate these fuel crops because they can generate more money than they would if they cultivated regular food crops. Governments have tried to control the amount of farmland used for this purpose by imposing restrictions but it appears that the amount of biofuels produced have increased as demand grows in response to skyrocketing crude oil prices.
As of late though, there has been an increasing trend to move away from fuels produced using farmland as ethical concerns raise their heads, there is still ongoing activity in this sector. But can the food crisis be totally attributed to this factor?
Desertification, changing weather patterns as well as increasing numbers of mouths to feed and land being used for purposes of industrialization and real estate has squeezed our available resource base for viable food production for all of the world’s citizens. Already, major rice exporters have stopped their exports amid fears of local supply problems and there is talk of there being an OPEC like cartel for the major rice producing economies. If such a cartel materialized that would give rise to global rice prices and would make the food market increasingly susceptible to market speculation and perhaps be the next most profitable commodity after oil.
This would not be an ideal situation for the future of the world. Food needs to be easily accessible to all of us as that constitutes a basic need of everybody. Lack of food would cause mass uprisings all over the world the like of which we have already witnessed in Haiti. But with populations increasing, cultivatable land decreasing, the last thing the powerful should do is go on living their protected lives and pretend the problem does not exist (no direct offense to the gentleman with the extra large burgher intended).
Hitler, in his early days, saw one solution to assist the survival of his race. He exterminated millions of innocents to make way for the ‘powerful’ and to secure resources for his people. The last thing we need is another guy like that coming into the scene.
Einstein said; "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." I don’t mean to be over dramatic and apocalyptic or anything but if the world spirals into more and more conflict and we start witnessing increasingly similar trends like more and more frustrations between nuclear powered nations, competition for energy, and now, food resources, something will have to give if the world doesn’t wake up and realize that there is some serious damage that needs to be repaired.
If you are reading this, please spread the message. Talk about these problems to people, now I’m not asking you to start waving your respective religious texts on street corners and turn into modern day prophets of doom or anything, I am just asking you to develop an interest. Read the news, but learn to think for yourselves. Get a sense of the environment we are living in. If we can unite, we can change the world.