There’s been a great deal of discussion in recent weeks about the recent spike in global food prices. Nearly all agricultural crops—from cotton to rice, from wheat to cocoa—are near 30 year highs. The respite from 2007-08 food crisis appears to have been short-lived, and most analysts are pointing to a protracted period of expensive food.
US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack last week published an op-ed in the Financial Times in which he outlines steps necessary to avoid a global food price crisis. His framing of the problem echoes the neo-Malthusian assumptions: too many people, too much demand from middle class consumers, and so on. His prescriptions are pretty much what you’d expect from someone in his position: more investment in agriculture, especially biotechnology, more free trade, conclusion of the Doha Round, and so on.
What’s perhaps most telling about Vilsack’s discussion is what’s missing. As I see it…
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