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Global Food Crises

On June 22 and 23 the agriculture ministers of the G20 are meeting in Paris to discuss ways to stabilize global food prices and address increased world hunger. This is the first time the agriculture ministers of the world’s 20 most powerful countries are meeting and it presents an opportunity for them to set policies and agree on priorities in order to stabilize what could become a catastrophic global disaster.

In a timely publication released last week, “Growing a Better Future,” Oxfam reported that the rapid increase in the price of staples like corn has led 44 million more people to hunger in the last year and these food costs are expected to only rise, doubling by 2020, if drastic measures are not taken to address the issues of increasing demand for food and decreasing capacity to produce it.

Farm 2As Former President Lula of Brazil noted in an Oxfam press release,  “There are no excuses. We have the capacity to feed everyone on the planet now and in the future. If the political will is there no one will be denied their fundamental human right to be free from hunger.”

However, the issue is complex and far-reaching. For example, one of the leading contributors to deforestation is clear-cutting for agricultural purposes. This may create more planting and grazing lands thus addressing the food supply problem, but it robs the planet of many more important resources and has devastating impacts on the climate which ultimately affects agriculture.

In addition to their Growing a Better Future report, Oxfam has also introduced a 5-point plan of urgent actions to address the food crises: investing in small-scale food producers; ending excessive speculation in agricultural commodities; modernizing food aid; stopping giveaways to the corn-ethanol industry; and regulating land and water grabs. These are sound ideas and should be discussed at length by the G20 ministers as plausible courses of action.

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