Thursday, January 13, 2011

The world food supply is breaking down

This fall, Minnesota farmers had probably the best year they have ever had.  While the weather was amazingly freaky in 2010 including the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded in North America and a fall flood that raised the Minnesota River to record flood stages, these events were surrounding by plenty of early summer rain and a dry fall that made the harvest a snap.  By late summer, everything was so lush and green the soybeans looked like hedgerows and cornfields were impenetrably dense.

Ordinarily, such great harvests usually push down grain prices.  But not everyone was so lucky.  The crops in Russia were nearly wiped out.  There were a lot of crop failures in USA due to freaky weather.  The very existence of lucky Minnesota farmers is evidence that there are plenty of catastrophes elsewhere.  And the long-predicted breakdown in the global food supply seems to be happening as populations outstrip the ability of the systems to feed them.

Of course, a real disaster is being compounded by rising prices for oil--a critical component of our food systems.  And when the real economy staggers, the speculators cannot be far behind.  The toll is already staggering.  The Predators will turn this into an utter catastrophe.

India Farmer Suicides Linked To Crop Failure, Climate Change (VIDEO) 
01-11-11 05:59 PM  
Loss of government subsidies, international competition and recently erratic climate patterns are all being blamed for a staggering number of Indian farmers who are resorting to suicide, Al-Jazeera is reporting. 
More than 17,368 Indian farmers reportedly killed themselves in 2009, the worst figure for farm suicides in six years and an increase of 1,172 from the previous year's figure, data from the National Crime Records Bureau indicate. Nearly all of the bereaved families of those who have committed suicide reportedly had problems with debt and land loss due to failing crops. 
"Poverty has assaulted rural India," journalist Palagummi Sainath, an expert on rural poverty in India, told The Independent, before noting that most of the suicides are taking place in the region known as the nation's cotton belt. The price of cotton in real terms, he says, is roughly a twelfth of what it was 30 years ago. "Farmers who used to be able to send their children to college now can't send them to school." more 

Food prices: "We are entering danger territory" 
by gjohnsit 
Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 12:54:47 PM CST
On the day after the world's price of food hit an all-time high, violence erupted in the streets of Algiers.
ALGIERS, Algeria – Riots over rising food prices and chronic unemployment spiraled out from Algeria's capital on Thursday, with youths torching government buildings and shouting "Bring us Sugar!"
At no time since records have been kept has the cost of eating been so expensive. The last time prices were this high there were food riots in 32 nations, and that has some people worried.
"We are entering danger territory," said the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's chief economist, Abdolreza Abbassian. Global food prices have risen for the sixth month in succession. Wheat has almost doubled since June, sugar is at a 30-year high, and pork is up by a quarter since the beginning of 2010. more
Wrenching Photos Of The Inflation And Unemployment Protests Tearing Apart Tunisia
Grace Wyler | Jan. 12, 2011, 2:28 PM 
Frustration over high unemployment and rising food prices has erupted in deadly riots in Tunisia, where clashes between youth protesters and security forces killed at least 23 people over the past week, according to UPI.
The violence was the worst since protests broke out in December against the government's inability to stem chronic joblessness, particularly among Tunisia's youth population.
In an effort to quell further unrest in the wake of the recent death toll, Tunisia's prime minister said Wednesday that everyone arrested during the protests would be released. At the same time, troops were deployed in the capital, where riots flared for the first time Tuesday night, according to AFP. more 
Playing God on a Limited Budget
The Challenge of Deciding Who to Feed
By Uwe Buse  01/07/2011
The United Nations' World Food Program tries to stop the poorest of the poor from going hungry. But its budget has dwindled during the crisis as donor countries focus on their own economic problems. Aid workers face the unpleasant task of deciding who gets food -- and who doesn't.
John Aylieff was once shot at in Burundi in eastern Africa, by a gunman standing on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Aylieff only survived because his driver aimed the vehicle directly at the gunman.
Aylieff also lost a colleague in Burundi. She was forced to stand in front of her murderers and was executed.
He has witnessed the deaths of children, including babies who starved to death in front of his very eyes. He has also seen old people starve to death, both men and women, and he has seen women weeping and begging for food -- as recently as half an hour ago.
Aylieff was sitting on a tree trunk lying on the ground, in a village in hot, humid northwestern Bangladesh. The village consisted of wretched huts made of branches and straw. To the left of the village was a path. During the flood, the villagers would spend their nights sleeping alongside the path. To the right of the village was the river, where floodwaters kept rising from one day to the next. more

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