Rising Food Prices

October 18, 2011 • Volume 5, Issue 20
Are high food prices here to stay?
By Sarah Glazer


Protesters carry a man waving a baguette in Tunis (AFP/Getty Images/Martin Bureau)
Protesters carry a man waving a baguette in Tunis, Tunisia, on Jan. 18, 2011. Anger over rising food prices mobilized many of the thousands of people who took to the streets in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East during the “Arab Spring.” (AFP/Getty Images/Martin Bureau)

Global food prices reached record highs early this year, sending millions around the world into poverty and contributing to starvation in East Africa. Many blame the government-subsidized growth in the market for biofuels, such as ethanol. Biofuels are expected to consume 40 percent of this year's corn crop from the world's largest producer — the United States. Others say commodities speculators caused food prices to ricochet wildly. Europe is considering adopting restrictions on speculation similar to a new U.S. law, but Wall Street is lobbying hard to weaken the American regulations. Perennially high food prices may be the first sign that changing climate is handicapping agriculture. To feed the world's growing population, experts say farmers must double their food output by mid-century — a tall order to fill without destroying more rain forests and further boosting planet-warming carbon emissions. The solution may be a combination of two warring philosophies: high-tech agriculture and traditional farming methods that are kinder to the environment.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Food Prices and Supply
Nov. 05, 2021  Coffee at a Crossroads
Oct. 18, 2011  Rising Food Prices
Jun. 27, 2008  Global Food Crisis
Aug. 04, 1978  Food Inflation
Nov. 01, 1974  World Food Needs
May 10, 1972  Food Prices
Mar. 25, 1970  Green Revolution
Nov. 23, 1966  Consumer Food Dollar
Jul. 28, 1965  World Food Shortages
Feb. 21, 1951  Food Price Subsidies
Jul. 12, 1950  Famine and Food Supply
Feb. 09, 1946  Food Subsidies and Parity Prices
Jul. 17, 1943  Food Supply
Farm Loans, Insurance, and Subsidies