Monday, March 24, 2008

Population, Climate, Food and an Emerging Nightmare

There are riots in Camaroon. People protesting in Italy. Two people dead in "clashes." At the end of 2007, 37 countries were facing crises. People fighting for freedom? Demonstrating for civil rights? Nope. People are fighting, dying for food, according to a recent MSNBC feature.

"Freak weather is a factor. But so are dramatic changes in the global economy, including higher oil prices, lower food reserves and growing consumer demand in China and India," reports MSBC.

Contributing to problems in China and India are meat and biofuel demand. "Rising demand for meat and dairy in rapidly developing countries such as China and India is sending up the cost of grain, used for cattle feed, as is the demand for raw materials to make biofuels."

This problem isn't new. Pound360
first examined the biofuel-hunger-violence link in January. Around that same time, we looked at how increased demand for meat is sending ripples through the environment, human health and world food supplies.

Around the world, food costs are up 23 percent from 2006 to 2007 according to MSNBC. (The NY Times recently
reported a 37 percent spike last year. Both figures are based on reports from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). In particular, grains are up 42 percent, oils up 52 and dairy is up 80 percent. In the U.S., food prices were up four percent last year, the biggest jump in almost 20 years. Prices are expected to rise another four percent this year.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.