Global food crisis forecast as prices reach record highs | Environment | The Guardian.
“World wheat and maize prices have risen 57%, rice 45% and sugar 55% over the last six months and soybeans are at their highest price for 16 months.
UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, says a combination of environmental degradation, urbanisation and large-scale land acquisitions by foreign investors for biofuels is squeezing land suitable for agriculture.
“Worldwide, 5m to 10m hectares of agricultural land are being lost annually due to severe degradation and another 19.5m are lost for industrial uses and urbanisation,” he says in a new report.
“But the pressure on land resulting from these factors has been boosted in recent years by policies favouring large-scale industrial plantations.
“According to the World Bank, more than one-third of large-scale land acquisitions are intended to produce agrofuels.”
But the World Development Movement (WDM) in London warned that food speculation by hedge funds, pension funds and investment banks was likely to prompt further inflation….
Longtime hedge fund manager Mike Masters, who has worked with WDM, said: “Because there is already much more capital available in the world than hard commodities, speculators can increase the price of consumable commodities, like foodstuffs or energy, much higher than traditional consumers and producers can react…”