Food shortages: a "silent tsunami" ?

Every day, we are presented with new evidence that countries can no longer exist in isolation; that we are one global community. The bank credit crisis is one example of this; global warming, another. And now we are faced with food shortages. Some are calling it a "silent tsunami" that threatens to affect us all if countries don't come together quickly to address the problem.

Strangely, one factor causing higher food prices may be our collective push to become more environmentally-responsible. Land that was once used for food is now being converted to grow crops to fuel cars. But the scarcity of rice, wheat and other food crops has resulted in higher food prices. In Asia, North Africa and in the Caribbean people have rioted because of the dramatic price hikes.

Two other important factors are creating a "perfect storm" that makes the problem worse: some countries in Asia have closed their exports of rice because they fear they will not have enough for their own populations. Unfortunately this has resulted in even higher prices for rice still available on the international market.

The other factor is the rising price of oil. This means higher costs for shipping and delivery of food. And, again, these costs get passed on to consumers.

The World Food Programme is calling for an immediate, "large scale, high-level action by the global community, focused on emergency and long-range solutions."

As worrisome as the situation appears, I have faith that we will find solutions to these problems. The Internet provides fast and widespread dissemination of information. Organizations are talking to each other. With the coordinated activities of banking institutions, governments, world agencies and other groups, we can pull together.

We really are a global village now...

For more info, see Science Daily and the Council on Foreign Relations pages.
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