Not New: Rising Trend of Food Riots

Ever since states began administering the agricultural resources of their populations (like, thousands of years ago), food scarcity, hoarding, and price jacking have incited unrest. The recent upsurge in reporting about food is more than a media trend. Changes in the recent past have drastically affected the price of food, globally, and are leading towards an escalating crisis which the World Bank has declared an emergency as hundreds of millions are in danger of plunging into worse poverty.

The price of food has risen. This is chiefly because of the connection between food and fuel. With oil prices at new highs, it costs that much more to transport food and the increase is passed on to the consumer. With oil prices at new highs, alternative sources of fuel are increasingly economically viable--hence the turn to biofuels (ethanol, from corn, being the best known but there are other oilseed being grown) and so crops that could be going to feed people are being converted to fuel, decreasing the supply of food and raising the price and of course the increase is passed on to the consumer.

In the past year, the price of food in poor countries has gone up by 50%, which is why we see demonstrations in Haiti, leading to the ouster of its Prime Minister. This is also why Argentines, the world's highest per capita consumers of meat, had to subsist on pasta and pizza for weeks when farmers and ranchers halted shipments of their produce in retaliation to the government's desire to raise taxes on farmers to benefit from the financial windfall from higher profits. And this is why American farmers who've been paid money for decades to let their fields lie uncultivated are starting to use those fields for biofuels and more "traditional" crop usage.

And, to be very clear, I, like Toussaint, think of Haiti as part of Latin America.

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One Response to Not New: Rising Trend of Food Riots

nblinks said...

Where do you (and Toussaint) place the French overseas territories of the Americas (Martinique et al) in the Latin America equation? And if we're feeling super-duper-inclusive, what about Quebec?

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