Thursday, December 13, 2007

Robert J. Samuelson: Food vs. Fuel

From NewsWeek:

The world's food system may be about to go into crisis, and the U.S. government's energy policy may be partly to blame.

If people can't eat, they can't do much else. One of the great achievements of the past century has been the enormous expansion of food production, which has virtually eliminated starvation in advanced countries and has made huge gains against it in poor countries. Since 1961 world population has increased 112 percent; meanwhile, global production is up 164 percent for grains and almost 700 percent for meats. We owe this mainly to better seed varieties, more fertilizer, more mechanization and better farm practices. Food in most developed countries is so plentiful and inexpensive that obesity—partly caused by overeating—is a major social problem.

But the world food system may now be undergoing a radical break with this past. "The end of cheap food" is how the Economist magazine recently described it....MORE

From Reuters:
China checks land for biofuel on food worries

From ChinaDaily:
Cities told to keep food, oil reserves

From Forbes:
China's NDRC says US dollar depreciation helps boost global commodity prices

From the Associated Press:
Wheat Prices Spike Amid Robust Exports

From ninemsn:
Japan buys 200,000 tonnes of wheat at weekly tender

From Reuters:
India to be regular wheat importer, says CWB
India will be a regular wheat importer in the future despite being the world's second-biggest producer as demand from a growing population races ahead, a Canadian Wheat Board official said on Wednesday.

India imported 5.5 million tonnes of wheat in 2006, its first overseas buys in six years, and has tied up contracts for 1.8 million tonnes this year.

"I would suggest that India is going to be importing on a more regular basis," Dave Burrows, a wheat board director, told Reuters in an interview in New Delhi.