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Originally published July 19 2008

Global Food Supply Dwindling as Prices Skyrocket, Warns UN

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Jacques Diouf, has warned that the world's supply of food is shrinking, creating "a very serious risk that fewer people will be able to get food."

Prices of food have risen to record levels in recent years, due to a combination of supply problems and growing demand.

"We're concerned that we are facing the perfect storm for the world's hungry," said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program.

Demand is driven not only by an increasing population, but by an increasing shift by more people to a meat-heavy diet. It takes substantially more land to produce each calorie of meat than a corresponding calorie of vegetable food, because large quantities of vegetable foods, including grains, must go to feed animals instead of feeding humans directly.

Meanwhile, the shift of more arable land to the production of cattle feed and biofuels has created shortages of supply, as have unexpected climate events caused by global warming, such as droughts, fires and floods. The FAO records that worldwide stores of wheat declined by 11 percent to their lowest levels since 1980, leaving only 12 weeks worth of consumption. Corn stores have fallen from 11 to 8 weeks worth.

In the past year, the FAO estimates that the costs of food importation borne by the neediest countries increased by 25 percent, and now totals $107 million per year. Prices of wheat and oilseeds have reached record highs, with wheat prices jumping by 52 percent.

Sheeran noted that the World Food Program's food procurement costs have increased 50 percent since 2002. At the same time, the food price index of the FAO rose by 40 percent in 2007, compared with only a 9 percent rise in 2006.

According to Diouf, even a 9 percent rise was already unacceptable.

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