1 May 2008
Price increases in supermarkets have had a noticeable effect on household budgets in the developed world, but the effect of rising prices in those parts of the world where people already struggle to survive on a minimal income, has been catastrophic.
Protests over food prices have occurred in the past year in places as diverse as Egypt (where the cost of food has doubled in a year), Sierra Leone (where food costs has increased 300%), Haiti, the Philippines; Italy; Uzbekistan; Yemen; Bolivia; Indonesia, the Cameroons (where 40 people died in food riots in Feb) among other places.
A spokesman for the UN World Food Program said that the rising prices were creating the biggest challenge the organization had encountered in its history, with more than 100 million people on every continent likely to be driven into hunger, resulting in an increased level of civil disturbance.
Causes cited for the current crisis include flooding and drought caused by climate change, changes in consumer patterns, biofuels, market structures and trade matters (trade-distorting subsidies from rich countries have damaged food production in poor countries).
The issue will be discussed at meetings of the G8 and EU scheduled for May, June and July and
AVAAZ has organized an online petition demanding that world leaders take effective action.
The most recent edition of OzSpirit also takes up this issue.