Inbox: World food crisis looming

Commodity prices will surge by over 180 percent in the next 20 years because of climate change, population growth and burgeoning middle classes, report on global food supply by Oxfam contends. That may be good news for farmers and the New Zealand economy but will lead to an international food crisis, the report claims.
A steadily expanding middle class in heavily populated nations such as China, Brazil and India will increase demand for food by 70 percent by 2050, the report says, exacerbating existing pressures from water shortage and crop failure due to global warming and soil loss. In response, governments should become proactive in meeting the challenge, rather than expecting ‘the market’ to manage it, Oxfam says.
Amongst recommended government actions are the imposition of meaningful emissions tax and greater investment in research to reduce the 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions contributed by agriculture.
Also in need of urgent attention is the inequity of the current food distribution system, with rich countries taking the majority of supply and contributing the majority of food waste, the report argues. The first step would be to reduce the influence of corporate and industrial operators in the food sector and increase that of small holders, according to Oxfam.
The report also comes out strongly against biofuels as solution to sustainability problems. “We think biofuels are potentially very, very damaging in the food system,” says Oxfam campaigns manager Adam Askew. “When you’re putting food in machines rather than people’s bellies, you essentially take up land that should be used to grow food for people to eat.” M

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