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Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization announced yesterday that in December, food prices surpassed their 2008 levels, often remembered for the riots that broke out around the world.

Some say the increase in prices is directly related to climate change because of the impact of changing temperatures and weather patterns on agriculture. Gawain Kripke, policy director for Oxfam America, said, “The record rise in food prices is a grave reminder that until we act on the underlying causes of hunger and climate change, we will find ourselves perpetually on the knife’s edge of disaster.”

The Guardian quotes Abdolreza Abbassian, FAO economist: “We are entering a danger territory.”

Here’s what the FAO Food Price Index and Food Commodity Price Indices look like:

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More from the Guardian:

Sugar and meat prices are at record levels, while cereal prices are back at the levels last seen in 2008, when riots in Haiti killed four people and riots in Cameroon left 40 dead.Abbassian warned prices could rise higher still, amid fears of droughts in Argentina and floods in Australia and cold weather killing plants in the northern hemisphere…

The current floods in Australia have the potential to affect prices for commodities such as sugar and cane growers are warning of production problems for up to three years. Wheat supplies are expected to be affected – Australia is the fourth-largest wheat exporter – and the country is also the largest exporter of coking coal, production of which is also being affected by the floods.

The Financial Times reports:

The increase in food costs will also hit developed economies, with companies from McDonald’s to Kraft raising retail prices. Higher food prices are also boosting overall inflation, which is above the preferred targets of central banks in Europe.

And Oxfam pointed out that food prices are climbing at the same time that oil prices are also soaring towards record highs.

Extreme weather events are at least partly to blame for poor harvests and increasing prices, and are likely to get worse with climate change.


via Treehugger