Who missed the food crisis?

THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images It’s good to see that the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Group of Seven are finally calling for action on the global food crisis that is stirring up political and social turmoil in some 33 countries, per the World Bank’s count. Haiti’s riotous food crisis has already claimed its ...

595485_080414_haiti2.jpg
595485_080414_haiti2.jpg

THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images

It's good to see that the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Group of Seven are finally calling for action on the global food crisis that is stirring up political and social turmoil in some 33 countries, per the World Bank's count. Haiti's riotous food crisis has already claimed its prime minister.

With the price of cereal crops like wheat and rice soaring and countries increasingly taking their exports off the market, the situation has become explosive in recent weeks. (On the positive side, food import tariffs are being slashed in the developing world and developed countries are automatically reducing their ag subsidies as prices rise.)

THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images

It’s good to see that the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Group of Seven are finally calling for action on the global food crisis that is stirring up political and social turmoil in some 33 countries, per the World Bank’s count. Haiti’s riotous food crisis has already claimed its prime minister.

With the price of cereal crops like wheat and rice soaring and countries increasingly taking their exports off the market, the situation has become explosive in recent weeks. (On the positive side, food import tariffs are being slashed in the developing world and developed countries are automatically reducing their ag subsidies as prices rise.)

But food prices have been soaring since late 2006. Where have these leaders been for the past year and a half? And what about the U.S. press, which aside from the Financial Times has offered scant high-profile coverage of a crisis that is affecting hundreds of millions of people around the world?

The good news is that if governments act quickly to provide cash transfer payments to the poor, as the Bank recommends (pdf), a great deal of suffering can still be averted. Eventually, I suspect, the high prices will come down as farmers plant more crops and oil prices return to Earth. A couple years from now, we’ll probably be talking about how to deal with a global food glut. But how about a little foresight, people?

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