First it was the food banks that were running out of food. Now, as Christmas approaches, we learn that the entire planet is being squeezed.
Yes, using food plants to make ethanol and other biofuels is partly behind it. But the economic booms in India and China are also to blame, creating new wealthy classes who want to eat meat. Food grains are going to feed livestock instead of people. The price of food is rising dramatically. So is the price of fuel used to grow food and ship it from place to place.
There now looms "a very serious risk that fewer people will be able to get food," particularly in the developing world, says Jacques Diouf, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The agency's food price index rose by more than 40 percent this year, compared with 9 percent the year before. Prices of wheat and oilseeds are at record highs. Wheat prices have risen by $130 per ton--or 52 percent--since a year ago.
"We're concerned that we are facing the perfect storm for the world's hungry," said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program. "You can debate why this is all happening, but what's most important to us is that it's a long-term trend, reversing decades of decreasing food prices."
Global warming threatens to make matters only worse, bringing droughts to areas most in need of sustenance.
Let's keep those less fortunate in mind as we celebrate the holidays.
Bon appetit and Merry Christmas...