The environmental food crisis
The surge in food prices in the last years, following a century of decline, has been the most marked of the past century in its magnitude, duration and the number of commodity groups whose prices have increased. The ensuing crisis has resulted in a 50-200% increase in selected commodity prices, driven 110 million people into poverty and added 44 million more to the undernourished. Elevated food prices have had dramatic impacts on the lives and livelihoods, including increased infant and child mortality, of those already undernourished or living in poverty and spending 70-80% of their daily income on food. Key causes of the current food crisis are the combined effects of speculation in food stocks, extreme weather events, and low cereal stocks, growth in biofuels competing for cropland and high oil prices. Although prices have fallen sharply since the peak in July 2008, they are still high above those in 2004 for many key commodities. The underlying supply and demand tensions are little changed from those that existed just a few months ago when these prices were close to all-time highs.