June 17, 2010
The Agricultural Outlook 2010-19 found that global food prices of wheat and coarse grains could jump between 15 and 40 percent from 1997-2006 levels, prior to the global food crisis in 2007. Vegetable oil and dairy are set rise by more than 40 percent.
Last year the UN estimated that one billion people are currently undernourished: the highest number in history. Hunger has been exacerbated this decade by the global food crisis and the economic crisis. Even after the food crisis subsided, prices remained higher than average. Hunger worldwide has been rising since the mid-1990s.
While currently enough food is produced to feed the world's human population of 6.8 billion, production and distribution is uneven resulting in hunger, malnutrition, and, in some cases, starvation. The report finds that global agricultural could successfully provide enough food for the world's expected population in 2050—9 billion people—yet trading and agricultural policies would need to change to stall rising hunger.
"The role of developing countries in international markets is growing quickly, and as their impact grows, their policies also have an increasing bearing on conditions in global markets," FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf explained.
How an agricultural revolution could save the world's biodiversity, an interview with Ivette Perfecto
(05/04/2010) Most people who are trying to change the world stick to one area, for example they might either work to preserve biodiversity in rainforests or do social justice with poor farmers. But Dr. Ivette Perfecto was never satisfied with having to choose between helping people or preserving nature. Professor of Ecology and Natural Resources at the University of Michigan and co-author of the recent book Nature’s Matrix: The Link between Agriculture, Conservation and Food Sovereignty, Perfecto has, as she says, "combined her passions" to understand how agriculture can benefit both farmers and biodiversity—if done right.
World failing on every environmental issue: an op-ed for Earth Day
(04/22/2010) The biodiversity crisis, the climate crisis, the deforestation crisis: we are living in an age when environmental issues have moved from regional problems to global ones. A generation or two before ours and one might speak of saving the beauty of Northern California; conserving a single species—say the white rhino—from extinction; or preserving an ecological region like the Amazon. That was a different age. Today we speak of preserving world biodiversity, of saving the 'lungs of the planet', of mitigating global climate change. No longer are humans over-reaching in just one region, but we are overreaching the whole planet, stretching ecological systems to a breaking point. While we are aware of the issues that threaten the well-being of life on this planet, including our own, how are we progressing on solutions?
How free trade has devastated Africa's farmers and poor
(02/15/2010) A push in the mid-1980s for Africa to embrace free trade to aid it economies backfired in many of the continent's poorest countries, argues a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Africa was pushed to rollback government involvement in development and instead to rely on the private sector: government services shrunk, cash crops were pushed over staples, while tariffs and subsides were abolished. The insistence on free trade was meant to spur economic growth, but instead undercut traditional agricultural systems that had worked for centuries, eventually leading to a food crisis, which left millions hungry, led to multiple food riots, and destabilized governments.