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Posted at 1:42 PM ET, 01/14/2011

Spike in global food prices contributes to Tunisian violence

By Ariana Eunjung Cha

fao2.bmpThe state of emergency in Tunisia has economists worried that we may be seeing the beginnings of a second wave of global food riots.

Battered by bad weather and increasing demand from the developing world, the global food supply system is buckling under the strain. This month, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported that its food price index jumped 32 percent in the second half of 2010 -- surpassing the previous record, set in the early summer of 2008, when deadly clashes over food broke out around the world, from Haiti to Somalia.

An FAO report noted that "recent bouts of extreme price volatility in global agricultural markets portend rising and more frequent threats to world food security."

In announcing the new numbers, Abdolreza Abbassian, the FAO's chief economist at the FAO, told reporters that "We are entering a danger territory."

"Certainly the kind of weather developments we have seen makes us worry a little bit more that it may last much, much longer. Are we prepared for it? Really, this is the question," he said.

The price of grains began to rise last fall after fires in Russia wiped out hundreds of thousands of acres of grains and heavy rain destroyed much of Canada's wheat crop. The problems were followed by hot, dry weather in Argentina that devastated the soybean crop of the key exporter. This month, floods in Australia destroyed much of the country's wheat crop.

The situation continued to deteriorate this week when the U.S. Department of Agriculture cut forecasts for key crops. Corn and soybean prices soared to their highest level in 30 months.

Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali on Thursday vowed to reduce the price of staples such as sugar, milk and bread ,but the pledge wasn't enough to placate the thousands of protesters who mobbed the capital, Tunis, on Friday to demand his ouster. The country's prime minister, Mohammed Ghannouchi, has appeared on state TV to announce he is assuming power.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | January 14, 2011; 1:42 PM ET
Categories:  Food prices, International Economics  
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Comments

Bravo to the reporter, this is the real story right here.

The 2008 food riots happened not just in bottom-of-the-barrel countries like Haiti and Somalia, but also in Mexico, Indonesia, and Egypt. The Egyptian govt in particular will be quaking in its boots right now.

Not only did Russia ban grain exports this year, India did as well. Two absolutely key producers.

What's causing it? Global climate change, caused by CO2 emissions. American conservatives can live in denial, but even that won't be tenable for much longer. Global population continues to rise, but for the first time, global food production is starting to fall. There are long-term droughts across the southern hemisphere that just aren't going away. Argentina and Australia are both in their 12th year. When Australia's floods end, it will be back to the drought.

Until now, there's always been enough food in the world to feed everyone if it were shared equitably. Even that won't be true in 20 years. A big crunch is coming. Forget sea level rise for now - global warming is going to strike our food supply first. It will strike hard and it will strike soon.

Posted by: Bud0 | January 14, 2011 5:41 PM | Report abuse

HAVE YOU SEEN ALL THE TAX INCREASES THAT ARE IN THE JOB KILLING OBAMACARE?

http://www.atr.org/comprehensive-list-tax-hikes-obamacare-a5758#

HELP US REPEAL OBAMACARE NOW.

Posted by: COOLCHILLY | January 14, 2011 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Well, all this violence ought to depress food prices.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 14, 2011 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Nonsense. The real cause is the runaway printing of money by the world's central banks to bail out the "too big to fails." That money has to go somewhere and these institutions speculate with it by buying commodities. But, governments around the world want the populace to believe that its due to the weather so they can get off the hook. Don't believe it and get out there and fight for sound money principles.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 15, 2011 3:10 AM | Report abuse

Bud0, you're delusional. This article glosses over the real reason for the rise in global food prices. The U.S. dollar is the world's reserve currency, and the Federal Reserve is creating wave after wave of TRILLIONS of dollars of new debt. That's all. All these other things like riots? Come on, do you think Tunisia is the bread basket of the world? So they riot and now food prices go up? Ridiculous. How can Americans be so stupid? Too busy watching dancing with the idiots and being entertained instead of thinking. BOTH political parties in the U.S. are owned lock, stock, and barrel by the banks, many of which are our foreign creditors. Inflation in the U.S., however, will be much worse than any other place in the world here soon due to the fact that when the U.S. dollar becomes so devalued no one wants it, those dollars will return to the place of origin. Cows coming home to roost, and a tsunami of hyper-inflation that may not last very long before the final complete deflation. Something needed for a long time but now will be extremely harsh due to the levels of debt the U.S. government has incurred through the mistaken idea of using debt creation to get out of debt. Stupid.

Posted by: shred11 | January 15, 2011 3:17 AM | Report abuse

Oh wait, you're right. Climate change forced the Fed to create 7 trillion worth of debt in the last four years.

Posted by: shred11 | January 15, 2011 3:19 AM | Report abuse

God I love how an article like this brings out the conspiracy theory nut-jobs. Seriously, it's like a baited-field for crazy. (Except for you Bud0, good job.)

Posted by: BigAl70 | January 15, 2011 4:47 AM | Report abuse

Western governments with few exceptions have decided to bailout and protect their corporate symbiotic partners.

In mention of this unrest my other Washington Post comments today*1, on Tunisia, flight of President Ben Ali (in Saudi Arabia now) much of this written of, spoken of, was generally ignored by western society alien to most world problems.

As the stereotypical joke goes the little Chinese guy says, "You pay now!".

If the Bush and Obama administrations had not bailed out corporate America, exemplified by the criminal Goldman Sachs*1 organization more money would be available for important things like peoples needs:

Two years ago, many intelligence reports were produced in western circles concerning the economic “downturn”, they were buried in typical western bureaucratic fashion.

One simple matter Wikileaks diplomatic cables reveal(*2)state often embassy staff (ie. Iceland) has limited staffing, funding: in circumstances they could use some of the money which was wasted on anti-social corporate miscreants, who abused what they are given, and continued what they were doing, and financed opposition to Obama.

Why is American government nearsighted of it own inconsistencies, that it needs “Marxist” critics, to point out what was written by government’s own staff?

Fidel Castro address on President Obama speech in Arzona tragedy stated:

"*** There are moments in life when a man must act and make clear their ideas and intentions. *** dialectical rhetoric debate often leads no where*** [issues and opponents must be confronted] *** As Fidel once spoke with Che, stating “when offered a hand, they take your forearm, then they take your arm, and when they do, they tear your head” I beg pardon if the quote is not exact, but that is how I remember at this moment.”

(translated courtesy of Google, edited in summary by me)

Notes:
*1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/14/AR2011011401131.html

*2.

Goldman Sachs, criminal for their culpable involvement in criminal conspiracies to default the EU, Greek people and Greek government by enabling the improper unprincipled Greek bond market activity they directly benefited from.

As Goldman Sachs today continues to flaunt prudence and propriety, in finagling 100s of millions in deals with Russian investors and the Harvard educated pimple faced exec of Facebook in dubious private stock deals they hyped.

*3
Wikileaks cable 05REYKJAVIK526, ICELAND: REINVIGORATING PUBLIC DIPLOMACY CULTURAL

1. Cultural programming is a key element of Embassy Reykjavik's public outreach, which aims to foster a positive
image of the U.S. among Icelandic citizens and, especially,
elites. ***

B. What kind of specific cultural or sports programs or initiatives are, or would be, most effective in supporting those objectives?

As a small post (only 12 direct-hire Americans) with a small
public diplomacy staff (three people) and budget (about
$40,000 annually for programs and grants), ***

Posted by: andrew_zito | January 15, 2011 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Western governments with few exceptions have decided to bailout and protect their corporate symbiotic partners.

In mention of this unrest my other Washington Post comments today*1, on Tunisia, flight of President Ben Ali (in Saudi Arabia now) much of this written of, spoken of, was generally ignored by western society alien to most world problems.

As the stereotypical joke goes the little Chinese guy says, "You pay now!".

If the Bush and Obama administrations had not bailed out corporate America, exemplified by the criminal Goldman Sachs*1 organization more money would be available for important things like peoples needs:

Two years ago, many intelligence reports were produced in western circles concerning the economic “downturn”, they were buried in typical western bureaucratic fashion.

One simple matter Wikileaks diplomatic cables reveal(*2)state often embassy staff (ie. Iceland) has limited staffing, funding: in circumstances they could use some of the money which was wasted on anti-social corporate miscreants, who abused what they are given, and continued what they were doing, and financed opposition to Obama.

Why is American government nearsighted of it own inconsistencies, that it needs “Marxist” critics, to point out what was written by government’s own staff?

Fidel Castro address on President Obama speech in Arzona tragedy stated:

"*** There are moments in life when a man must act and make clear their ideas and intentions. *** dialectical rhetoric debate often leads no where*** [issues and opponents must be confronted] *** As Fidel once spoke with Che, stating “when offered a hand, they take your forearm, then they take your arm, and when they do, they tear your head” I beg pardon if the quote is not exact, but that is how I remember at this moment.”

(translated courtesy of Google, edited in summary by me)

Notes:

*1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/14/AR2011011401131.html

*2.

Goldman Sachs, criminal for their culpable involvement in criminal conspiracies to default the EU, Greek people and Greek government by enabling the improper unprincipled Greek bond market activity they directly benefited from.

As Goldman Sachs today continues to flaunt prudence and propriety, in finagling 100s of millions in deals with Russian investors and the Harvard educated pimple faced exec of Facebook in dubious private stock deals they hyped.

*3
Wikileaks cable 05REYKJAVIK526, ICELAND: REINVIGORATING PUBLIC DIPLOMACY CULTURAL

1. Cultural programming is a key element of Embassy Reykjavik's public outreach, which aims to foster a positive
image of the U.S. among Icelandic citizens and, especially,
elites. ***

B. What kind of specific cultural or sports programs or initiatives are, or would be, most effective in supporting those objectives?

As a small post (only 12 direct-hire Americans) with a small public diplomacy staff (three people) and budget (about $40,000 annually for programs and grants), ***

Posted by: andrew_zito | January 15, 2011 7:37 AM | Report abuse


Three are of course several reasons for the price spike. One is the "Green Lobby" that has persuaded Congress and farmers that they should turn food into fuel. Another is greedy Arab leaders who grab as much money as they can even though they know food producers need petroleum products to cultivate, fertilize, and harvest their fields. The Arab money grab also impacts getting food to consumers--not that Arabs care, after all they have enough money to buy food.

The US should form an international organization-the organization of wheat producing countries and raise the prices of food for OPEC members.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 15, 2011 8:36 AM | Report abuse

;;;we r the bread basket of the world;;we feed ourselves and 3 billion others;;food if need be can become a terrorist weapon ;;we could trade a barrel of oil for a bushel of wheat;;but we dont !!instead our gov and the un with total disregard for us ;;will feed these ""EVIL DO-ERS"" AKA NO.KOR.ET . AL. BY FORCING US TO PAY HIGHER PRICES AT THE SUPERMARKET !!WHAT A COUNTRY !!meanwhile n.k will continue to build nuke weapons and export them all over the world ;;all the while importing our jack daniels no,7 and getting us to feed them for free;;i mean we feed them w/higher prices at the store;;

Posted by: Anonymous | January 15, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Now you will be spending your whole paycheck down at Whole Foods....

Posted by: bromisky | January 15, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse


The spike in commodity prices hits hardest in areas of the world where women cannot control their own bodies, resulting in a burgeoning population beyond the domestic carrying capacity.

Posted by: edbyronadams | January 15, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully, the filthy stinking country commie china will be affected in a big way with the food shortages.
This is a good way for some real population control.
We could stand to lose a few billion people on this earth, we are way over populated for the carrying capacity of earth.
Hopefully the USA won't feel it is their duty to start feeding the world, they already have enough problems in their own country.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 15, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Over population and so-called globalism (empire and not Republic), the fact that there is not enough resources to go around such as energy, food, water, land, health care, etc... and the fact that people no longer control thier economy and government at the local level...which is the case in the United States...along with the criminality and non representational form of government of global empire.

Posted by: 123Njord | January 15, 2011 10:16 AM | Report abuse

The left causes violence with it's policy.

Corn for ethanol was a predicted failure, but they went along with the greenie movement to appease voters.

Certainly one of the worst policy choices ever.

Posted by: docwhocuts | January 15, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

What did the booger eatin' morons of the left and the global warming hysterics expect to happen? Stop oil drilling and convert vast portions of our corn crop to wasteful ethanol production, and of course prices will go up. Well done, urbanite tree huggers!

Posted by: carlbatey | January 15, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Some people lack reading comprehension. Examples abound in this comment section.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 15, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Extreme weather changes were predicted with global warming. While you can't pinpoint any one extreme event as solely being driven by climate change, scientists have been predicting more frequent and more severe extreme weather as all that extra energy from global warming "churns" up a dynamic weather picture.

2010 that we just completed was tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record since modern instrumentation began taking data in 1880. Nine of the ten warmest years on record occurred in the decade that just ended.

http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20110112/

We have GOT to get our conservatives educated about science. Relying on a 2,000-year old book for everything you need to know in 2011 is outright insanity. Scientists are convinced that we are driving this. Please get your heads out of the sand, conservatives, before it is too late (if it's not already - greenhouse gases have a LONG residence time in the atmosphere, so we can't turn this around overnight when you all finally decide to grow up and pay attention).

Posted by: B2O2 | January 15, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't it all have to do with the largest "La Nina" in more than 50 years. Surface Temperature anomolies, produced by deep sea ocean currents off S. America, are greater than ever recorded.

Man may be causing temperature change but recent extreme weather has a well known deepwater source - far deeper than where man-made carbon emmissions levels have any effect.

Posted by: cobby62 | January 15, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't it all have to do with the largest "La Nina" in more than 50 years. Surface Temperature anomolies, produced by deep sea ocean currents off S. America, are greater than ever recorded.

Man may be causing temperature change but recent extreme weather has a well known deepwater source - far deeper than where man-made carbon emmissions levels have any effect.

Posted by: cobby62 | January 15, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

No single factor is at work here. Still, high on the list would be the irresponsible printing of money by the US Federal Reserve. Do they care how many people in the Third World starve? Apparently not. Bailing out the big banks is the top priority. After all, those bankers have boat payments to make!

Posted by: John991 | January 15, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

cobby62 -

La Nina and El Nino years have an effect that's superimposed on top of the rising trend in temperatures, but it's just going to give you bumps and valleys on the overall trend. Look at the year-by-year GISS TEMP data from NASA to get an idea.

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.lrg.gif

1998, for example, was a big El Nino (warm upwelling in the mid-Pacific off of Peru) year, causing an even higher spike upward than the underlying trend. (That's also the reason climate change deniers like to use that as their baseline year when they try to put scientists like Phil Jones on the spot by asking "has it signficantly warmed since 1998?" and so forth - among other nauseating red herrings).

But this past year was a La Nina year (cool upwelling), and we still tied for warmest year ever. Things are not going well, to put it bluntly. 2012 is do to be another record shattering year, when a "perfect storm" of El Nino and the rising trend conspire to wallop us. Stay tuned for more unrest and chaos to follow.

Posted by: B2O2 | January 15, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

We’re getting prepared for anything that may happen. Was at the store the other day and bought Kroger brand green beans for $1.06 a can. I remember not too long ago when they were .69 cents a can. Went online and found meals for .91 cents a serving, dehydrated from premium-grade fresh raw American foods. Food that is not genetically altered, no illegal fertilizers or insecticides, no hydrogenated oils and zero trans fats. Certified kosher as well. I got 6 free meals, just paid s&h. www.kristenschuster.myefoods.com Food is delicious!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 16, 2011 8:38 PM | Report abuse

THIS OUTRAGE REACHES THE UNITED STATES
Ben Bernanke's zero interest and stimulus to help major U.S. Corporations is backfiring. Food prices in the U.S. have gone up secretly almost 12%-18%. Since food prices are not calculated in determining U.S. inflation, Bernanke escapes being admonished. But the American public will soon revolt politically. Food and basic needs like electricity, gas cannot be allowed to inflate simply to help large American Corporations outsource more jobs and export more goods and services. The Chickens are coming home to roost.


Warmest,
Richard Michael Abraham, Founder
The REDI Foundation
Since 1973, the leaders in Real Estate Development Education
http://www.redii.org

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

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