World View: Global Food Price Increases Affecting World Political Stability

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Global food price increases affecting world political stability
  • U.N. identifies three causes of increase in world hunger

Global food price increases affecting world political stability

FAO Global Food Price Index, 1961-present
FAO Global Food Price Index, 1961-present

Hunger is a major source of geopolitical instability, whether on a regional or a global level. If a man is unable to feed his family, he may feel he has no choice but to join an army or militia that will give him money that he can send to his family. And if the army or militia is fighting someone whom the leaders or the politicians blame as being the cause of high food prices and hunger, so much the better if he gets to kill those people.

Food prices surged throughout the 2000s decade and then began to fall as the global financial crisis forced to buy less expensive foods, such as cereals and sugar instead of meat. However, food prices began to spike again in 2016, raising concern among U.N. officials. Food prices fell slightly in August, but they are still significantly higher than in August of last year.

Regional food shortages are even worse. The situation is unprecedented in recent times, with four countries simultaneously facing a food crisis.

South Sudan was officially declared to be in a state of famine in February 2017, the first such declaration in six years. About 100,000 people in South Sudan are facing famine, while 4.9 million people are classified as facing a food crisis.

In Yemen, 17 million people, or two-thirds, of the population, are estimated to be food insecure, with the risk of a famine declaration very high.

In northern Nigeria, 8.1 million people are facing acute food insecurity conditions, and in Somalia, an estimated 2.9 million people have been severely food insecure from six months ago.

Other countries are in near-crisis condition: Afghanistan, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Myanmar, and Syria.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, food shortages and increasing food prices are major factors in leading to the next generational crisis war, or world war. After World War II, officials sought to end hunger forever through the Rockefeller Foundation’s “Green Revolution,” which brought modern agricultural techniques and technology to countries around the world. These technologies included new hybrid and genetically modified seed varieties and the use of pesticides.

Today, however, the advantages of the Green Revolution have been dissipated. Pesticides and fertilizers have been overused and have been damaging the land and environment. Genetically modified seeds and foods have generated political controversy and have plateaued in effectiveness.

And finally, there is the unavoidable problem that population keeps increasing. More people means there are more mouths to feed, and more people means that farmland is used up by urban sprawl, so there is less food production for more people.

If men cannot feed their families, they will go to war rather than starve. The “good thing” about this is that a generational crisis war kills a lot of people, making more farmland available and leaving fewer people to be fed. That’s the way the world works. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) Food Price Index and United Nations and Guardian

U.N. identifies three causes of increase in world hunger

About 815 million people were hungry in 2016, about 11 percent of the world population, an increase of 38 million from 2015. Of these, 489 million hungry people live in countries affected by war.

In an interview with the BBC, Kostas Stamoulis of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that they’ve identified three reasons for the sharp increase in the number of undernourished people from 2015 to 2016 (my transcription):

  • One is conflict. In the last ten years, the extent of conflicts, the violence associated with conflicts, has increased dramatically. Those conflicts are not necessarily among nations, but even within nations, they get regionalized and internationalized sometimes. So 489 million people live in countries affected by conflict. One hundred-fifty-five million children today are stunted. One hundred-twenty-two million live in countries affected by conflict.
  • The second reason we have found out is violent weather events, which one or the other way may be associated with climate change, as for instance, as those associated with El Niño and La Niña. Those have caused reduction in food availability in the harvests of people.
  • And then there is a group of countries that have not been affected either by conflict or violent weather events. Some of them are in the Latin America, especially South America, but they have been hit by economic slowdowns. They have based their economies on export earnings from high commodity prices — agriculture or non-agriculture, and when the prices drop, their export earnings have dropped, the economic activity has slowed down, their ability to import food has come down, and also the ability of governments to have the necessary fiscal revenues for social protection systems that would protect their people from hunger have come down.

In his last point, Stamoulis is certainly referring to, among others, Venezuela, which wasted billions of dollars building a “Socialist Paradise” when oil prices were high, with the result that happens 100 percentof the time: a “Socialist Catastrophe” where people starve and, in the case of Venezuela, cannot even afford toilet paper. United Nations and World Food Program

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO, South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia, Rockefeller Foundation, Green Revolution, Kostas Stamoulis, Venezuela
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