Casaubon's Book

FAO food prices.jpg

From the UN FAO, we can see that world food prices remain extremely high. We also, I think, when we conjoin this with oil prices can see that there is at least a significant correlation.

oil_price_2011 (1).png

So much of what has been done in agriculture over the last 75 years has served to tie oil and food prices more tightly together, but it is increasingly clear that the world’s poor cannot afford to have their access to food controlled by the price of energy on world markets. That kills people, to put it as bluntly as possible.

This is one of the reasons I’m least convinced that improving agricultural technologies can resolve the food crisis – because at the same time that we may produce more food, virtually every solution we have offered up makes the world’s poor more vulnerable to fluctuating food prices.

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 Dunc
    October 5, 2011

    This is one of the reasons I’m least convinced that improving agricultural technologies can resolve the food crisis

    Oh, I dunno – have you tried a modern Austrian scythe? Now there’s an improved agricultural technology… ;)

  2. #2 Brian
    October 5, 2011

    I appreciate your blog – food is of course tied to fossil fuel prices because so much of modern agriculture depends on fuel. As far as resolving the food crisis – if you mean feeding all the starving people then I think it can not end well. As we figure out how to separate food from energy prices we also have to address the over-population problem, lest it ALL end in a big crash…

  3. #3 Connor
    October 6, 2011

    Brilliant post I found it very interesting, thanks.

  4. #4 Annie
    October 6, 2011

    I wonder if food prices would decrease very much if agricultural technologies changed? Maybe the powers that be would just keep the prices up anyway for more profit?

    I’m advocating more and more people starting gardens in their yards, just to decrease the amount of expensive, chemical laden food they have to buy at the store.

  5. #5 Greenpa
    October 6, 2011

    Sharon, my own opinion is that the price of food is tied more to the price of money, than to the price of oil, at this point. Oil prices are also tied this way; so food and oil do seem to track each other.

    The bizarre “financial sector” economy, utterly divorced from the real world, now has many trillions of dollars/yen/etc more in its pockets than real people do. And it’s all highly liquid, of course- and moved internationally, rapidly, to wherever the Owners see either better yields, or better security.

    Many billions have been removed from “money market” funds and similar vehicles- because of a perceived lack of both future yield and future safety. Food, however- is seen as extremely safe; and billions of those dollars have already been pumped into agricultural futures markets, always driving commodity prices up. And increasingly the same money traders are investing in “land funds” – basically “mutual funds” that own agricultural land, all over the world, not stocks and bonds. Once again, villagers in Africa are being pushed off their traditional lands, when their distant “chief” sells it to Owners from France, or China, or ad infinitum.

    Entirely insane. Less on our radar than the relationship with oil, because the money people behind the moves work actively to keep it quiet- when mainstream media people inquire, they clamp down very very hard indeed on any publicity about money making people starve. Why, that’s anti-capitalist, you know, and the little people really aren’t capable of understanding the complex contributions of these injections of liquidity into the agricultural commodities markets; it’s not only beneficial, but absolutely necessary, why people would starve if we didn’t provide this critical monetary service- so shut up. Or, yes, we’ll have you fired.

    Really bad. Going to get worse. Not going to change until something really major breaks; and what happens then is up for grabs; as you know well.

  6. #6 thomas mcmahon
    October 7, 2011

    The day of reckoning is coming. Oil is guaranteed to rise in cost over the next few years to the point where 5 dollar a gallon gas is the norm and spokes may hit 6 or 7 dollars a gallon. As this time comes food prices will soar and there is no cohesive national energy policies to insure food production costs from doing just that. Reactive responses when crisis come will be a day late and a dime short to do any good at all. The failure of the United States congress to come together on a national energy policy stands to undermine the very foundations on which the U.S. is built on. We are the enemy, it is us.

    Thomas McMahon
    Millis Ma

  7. #7 Someone You Know
    October 7, 2011

    Ms. Astyk,

    From my next Monday’s post about your article.

    Note: As you read the article replace “world’s poor” with you.

    Like this:

    So much of what has been done in agriculture over the last 75 years has served to tie oil and food prices more tightly together, but it is increasingly clear that you cannot afford to have your access to food controlled by the price of energy on world markets. That kills people, to put it as bluntly as possible.

    This is one of the reasons I’m least convinced that improving agricultural technologies can resolve the food crisis – because at the same time that we may produce more food, virtually every solution we have offered up makes you more vulnerable to fluctuating food prices.

    I linked to your article. If it was inappropriate, please e-mail me with your desired changes.

    Someone You Know

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