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As if a bear market, U.S. credit crunch, energy crisis and city financing emergency were not enough for one year, experts say the world is now facing down the barrel of the worst catastrophe of all: famine.
The very idea that the modern world could run out of food seems ludicrous, but that is the flip side, or cause, of the tremendous recent increase in the cost of raw wheat, corn, rice, oats and soybeans. Food prices are not escalating because speculators have run them up for sport and profit, but because accelerating demand in developing nations, biofuel production and poor harvests in some areas have made basic foodstuffs truly scarce.
In energy circles, folks who warn about the beginning of the end of cheap fossil fuels talk about "peak oil" as a point we have dangerously and expensively crossed. Likewise, you can now add "peak wheat" to your political and investment lexicon. And it's a lot worse.
Experts fear deadly fungus in south Asia wheatfields
A wheat-killing fungus has spread from Africa to Iran and may already be in Pakistan, which depends crucially on wheat to feed its population, New Scientist magazine says.The killer pathogen, known as Ug99, emerged in Uganda in 1999, spread to Kenya in 2001, to Ethiopia in 2003 and then leapt to Yemen, its spores blown by Cyclone Gonu in June 2007.
The fungus has now been found in Iran "and may already be in Pakistan," the British weekly says in next Saturday's issue."If so, this is extremely bad news, as Pakistan is not only critically reliant on its wheat crop, it is also the gateway to the Asian breadbasket, including the vital Punjab region."
Billions at risk from wheat super-blight
"This thing has immense potential for social and human destruction." Startling words - but spoken by the father of the Green Revolution, Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug, they are not easily dismissed.
An infection is coming, and almost no one has heard about it. This infection isn't going to give you flu, or TB. In fact, it isn't interested in you at all. It is after the wheat plants that feed more people than any other single food source on the planet. And because of cutbacks in international research, we aren't prepared. The famines that were banished by the advent of disease-resistant crops in the Green Revolution of the 1960s could return, Borlaug told New Scientist.
The disease is Ug99, a virulent strain of black stem rust fungus (Puccinia graminis), discovered in Uganda in 1999. Since the Green Revolution, farmers everywhere have grown wheat varieties that resist stem rust, but Ug99 has evolved to take advantage of those varieties, and almost no wheat crops anywhere are resistant to it."
Originally posted by DimensionalDetective
I just posted a thread a month or so ago of how the farming industry has actually DIMINISHED over recent years in terms of people producing crops of food.
Originally posted by daddyroo45
A barrel of oil for a barrel of grain.I know I read that somewhere.The fake oil crisis will be the downfall of OPEC.All their money won't save them when their people are starving and revolt.
Originally posted by stumason
Egypt provided significant quantities of grain to Rome itself, but describing Africa as the empire's bread basket is a bit far fetched.
Originally posted by FinalSonicX
reply to post by NewWorldOver
well actually the way I understand it is that the government pays farmers not to overproduce so that there is no surplus of food. a surplus drives prices down which might seem great for us but it can end up in a disaster for the farmers because if everyone does it then the prices are too low to keep it all profitable.
this arose early in the 19th century IIRC when farmers were beginning to use more mechanized tools the the mechanical reaper and such. this increased productivity and the supply being provided. it also caused prices to hit rock bottom and caused some problems with the farmers.
if the government subsidizes it and makes it so that it's more sensible to NOT overproduce, then no one will overproduce and prices will stay at a comfortable level (assuming all else stays the same).
no conspiracy here.