Patt Morrison for January 13, 2011

The great (unknown) global food crisis of 2011

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Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

A farmer plants corn seedlings on the edges of a field of wheat in Dujiangyan in southwest China's Sichuan province.

Food riots are spreading across Algeria; Russia is importing grain to sustain its cattle herds; the price of wheat is at an all-time high in the United Kingdom; China is starting to import food, worrying about food shortages; the Mexican government is worried about corn shortages to make the country’s staple tortillas. There is a bona fide global food crisis underway, not that most American would know about it. A strange combination of botched crops, water shortages, and economic and population pressures have conspired to drive basic food staples, wheat, grain and corn, to record high prices with potentially significant and lasting consequences. While the rest of the world looks nervously at food supplies, American companies are reaping the benefits, as commodities exporter Cargill reported a tripling of its net profits. You might not know it yet, but 2011 could be the year of a global food crisis—will it impact you?

Guest:

Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute


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