Tags: Riots | food | prices | global

Experts: Global Food Prices at Levels That Spark Riots

Wednesday, 03 Oct 2012 07:51 AM

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Global food prices are reaching levels that have sparked riots in recent past, and researchers say unrest could erupt across the planet in the very near future.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index averaged 213 points in August, unchanged from the previous month.

Any level over 210 increases the chance of igniting riots similar to the those that took place around the Arab Spring uprising, according to research conducted by the New England Complex Science Institute in Cambridge, Mass., National Public Radio reports.

Editor's Note: I Wish I Were Wrong — Economist Laments Being Right. See Interview

The U.S. drought has pushed up global prices in particular as of late, and considering tensions are already high in the Mideast, spikes in food prices up the possibility of food riots.

Wheat, which the Mideast must import, is trading at $9 per bushel, above $8.94 in February 2011, when the Arab Spring was in full swing, NPR points out.

Corn is up around $7.56 a bushel, down from $8 a bushel this summer though still high. However, the price of corn is in line with forecasts made earlier by the New England Complex Science Institute.

“What happened was that food prices went up exactly as predicted,” says Yaneer Bar-Yam of the New England Complex Science Institute, according to NPR.

Unlike oil, food cannot be stockpiled now to help ease the pain of shortfalls tomorrow, policymakers point out.

“I believe [stockpiling] is one of the instruments but it is not the most effective,” European Union Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs tells Reuters.

“The answer to food insecurity is sufficient food production in the world’s poorest regions,” Piebalgs says.

More investments help, as well.

“Resilience in farming, access to water, fighting against climate change, crops, access to the markets — it’s a lot of elements, one element does not help sufficiently.”

Editor's Note: I Wish I Were Wrong — Economist Laments Being Right. See Interview

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