Thursday, November 04, 2010

B.C. vulnerable to breakdowns in global food supply, report says - Vancouver Sun, Nov. 4, 2010

Spurred by the 2006 expansion of biofuels programs in the United States, prices for soy and corn began to rise, and a drought in Australia, a heat wave in California and extreme weather in Asia’s rice-producing nations conspired to triple the price of rice and more than double the price of wheat by April 2008. Many people in Africa and Asia were unable to afford staple foods, if they were available at all.

"B.C. managed to buy its way out of that crisis and absorb that price shock, but there were food riots in many countries on several continents," said Marc Lee, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. China, India, Indonesia and other nations closed their borders to rice exports. Russia, Ukraine and Argentina blocked wheat exports. In Vancouver, many stores ran out of rice while bread prices soared.

"I don’t think we can take for granted the abundance that we have at the supermarket today," Lee said, adding that our collective confidence in that abundance is the biggest barrier to change.

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