Saturday, April 19, 2008

The fear of hunger



An article in the Economist makes some alarming claims about the current food shortage in poor and developing countries:
“World agriculture has entered a new, unsustainable and politically risky period,” says Joachim von Braun, the head of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC. To prove it, food riots have erupted in countries all along the equator. In Haiti, protesters chanting “We're hungry” forced the prime minister to resign; 24 people were killed in riots in Cameroon; Egypt's president ordered the army to start baking bread; the Philippines made hoarding rice punishable by life imprisonment. “It's an explosive situation and threatens political stability,” worries Jean-Louis Billon, president of Côte d'Ivoire's chamber of commerce.
It looks like long-term concerns may be addressable but then again maybe not. It is certain that short-term food shortages cannot be fixed.

What will be the outcome of this shortage on the many already unstable political regimes of the third world? What of the lives of those who will not be able to buy enough to nourish their families?

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