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Erratic Weather Across Globe Fueling Impending Food Crisis

Common Dreams staff

Fog rolls over a corn field in Nebraska. The drought gripping the United States is the widest since 1956. (Photograph: Nati Harnik/AP)

In addition to the ongoing drought in the United States, experts warn that the potential for a worldwide food crisis is heightened by extreme and erratic weather across the globe.

A report in The Guardian cites recent flooding in Russia, an encroaching drought in South America, and heavy rains in the UK and says all contribute to a worldwide arithmetic that adds up to an agricultural nightmare.

The report says that deteriorating conditions are leading more and more analysts to draw parallels to events that led up to the 2008 global food crisis "when high food prices sparked a wave of riots in 30 countries across the world, from Haiti to Bangladesh."

Nick Higgins, a commodity analyst at Rabobank, is quoted as saying: "Food riots are a real risk at this point. Wheat prices aren't up at the level they got to in 2008 but they are still very high and that will have an effect on those who are least able to pay higher prices for food."

And Ruth Kelly, Oxfam's food policy advise, says that popular fury in less developed nations stems from the fact that people in poorer nation's spend a much larger percentage of their income on food than those in wealthier nations.

Kelly told The Guardian problems will be compounded by the previous two food price spikes in 2008 and 2011:

"People are already in debt from previous spikes and suffering the consequences. When the first food crisis hit people were forced to sell off their assets, their cattle and jewellery, and take on debt to make ends meet. After multiple crises, people run out of savings and that can be quite disastrous."

Raj Patel, expert on the global food system and author of the book Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System Writing, recently wrote on his website, "Changing the food system couldn’t be more urgent. All signs point to that conclusion, whether you consider the droughts, floods and fires caused by climate change, the rise in global food prices, or that the health effects of our current food system is predicted to shorten children’s lives."

"Better, and smarter ways of growing food, and feeding the world are needed, now," Patel said.

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