Report: Over Next Two Decades, World Food Prices Will Double

One line jumps out from Tim Lang's piece at the Guardian's Comment is Free today: “Oxfam prophesises that food prices will double by 2030.”

That's less than 20 years. Somehow I doubt world incomes will double in that time as well.

The world food crisis, Lang notes, is the result of many problems, including environmental issues, wealth disparity, and misguided solutions.

The 20th century squandered scientific possibilities. It created the fiction that ever more food can be produced by tapping oil, throwing fertiliser at seeds, spraying endless water and treating the soil as blotting paper, a neutral medium. We now know how fragile that mix is, and how fragile the Earth's crust and biology are too. Slowly, some of the institutions created over the last 60 years are recognising that political leadership and redirection are needed. The FAO, WHO, Unicef and Unep all collate the food story. Ministers meet, but in silos. The big picture eludes them. Inaction triumphs.

Lang is writing in response to a new report from Oxfam, “Growing a Better Future.” The report notes that the price of staple foods, already at its highest ever, will more than double in the next 20 years—at least half of that increase due to climate change. And, of course, that cost will hit the world's poor hardest.

Oxfam's GROW campaign is targeting the corporations and governments who prop up a broken food system, but Lang notes that it may be an uphill battle getting action from politicians.

And yet there's little time for hesitation. "The food system is pretty well bust in the world," Oxfam Chief Executive Barbara Stocking told reporters.

AlterNet / By Sarah Jaffe

Posted at June 1, 2011, 10:10am