Imminent Global Food Crisis


Driven by recent droughts in the Midwestern United States, other unusual weather worldwide, and a food price bubble, it appears that a global food crisis of catastrophic proportions is imminent. According to recent reports from the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), across the globe, we are in for a very challenging time. The current drought with its high temperatures in the American Midwest is the worst in 50 years.

For months, NECSI has warned, "misguided food-to-ethanol conversion programs and rampant commodity speculation have created a food price bubble, leading to an inevitable spike in prices by 2013". The only actions that could curtail this disaster would be immediate measures to curb ethanol production and rein in speculators.

Reversing 2012's relative decline in food prices, "this summer, the American breadbasket has suffered debilitating droughts and high temperatures, leading to soaring corn and wheat prices in anticipation of a poor harvest," said NECSI president Yaneer Bar-Yam. "We are on the verge of another crisis, the third in five years, and likely to be the worst yet, capable of causing new food riots and turmoil on a par with the Arab Spring."

Although the data in a 2008 United Nations (The State of Food and Agriculture 2008) report project that biofuels production only adds 15 percent to world food prices, we believe the playing field has changed since then.

In North Africa and the Middle East, political unrest will worsen again and compound this food crisis. Applying their validated quantitative model for historical food prices, NECSI scientists show how food prices have been related to social unrest. We have already seen demonstrations in some countries, notably Egypt and Syria.

Some people (including Gerald Celente) expect to see food riots in the US as well. We have seen an uptick in the survival guides and online classes available here and expect more.

While we would like to believe that the Obama administration will act right away to reduce the corn conversion to ethanol or curb the financial speculators, neither is likely to happen in time. With these serious developments and others, journalists covering the globe will have much negative news to report. [Editor's Note: We are usually much more optimistic. Sorry!]      

Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and  
professional speaker.


Joyce Gioia is a Strategic Business Futurist concentrating on workforce and workplace trends. Joyce is President and CEO of The Herman Group, a firm serving a wide range corporate, trade association and governmental clients on an international basis.

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