1. The Time bomb, setting Nation against Nation- ever increasing food prices, leading to political instability, spreading hunger and, unless governments act, a catastrophic breakdown in food. “Food is the new oil and land is the new gold”.
2. The result is that a new geopolitics of food has emerged, where the competition for land and water is intensifying and each country is fending for itself.
3. Nearly 60 percent of global land deals in the last decade have been to grow crops that are used for biofuels and to feed cattle for meat.
4. In the last 10 years food prices have doubled as demand for food has increased with a rapidly growing world population and millions have switched to animal-based diets, which require more grain and land.
5. Oxfam said last week it expected the price of key food staples, including wheat and rice, to double again in the next 20 years, threatening disastrous consequences for the poor.
6. But the surest sign that food supplies are precarious is seen in the amount of surplus food that countries hold in reserve, or “carry over” from one year to the next.
7. “For six of the last 11 years the world has consumed more food than it has grown. We do not have any buffer and are running down reserves. Our stocks are very low and if we have a dry winter and a poor rice harvest we could see a major food crisis across the board.”
8. New trends such as falling water tables, plateauing grain yields and rising temperatures join soil erosion and climate change to make it difficult, if not impossible, to expand production fast enough.”
9. Four pressing needs must be addressed together, instead of better seeds, tractors or pumps to raise water, feeding the world now depends on new population, energy, and water policies.
10. We live in a world where more than half the people live in countries with food bubbles based on farmers’ over-pumping and draining aquifers. The question is not whether these bubbles will burst, but when. The bursting of several national food bubbles as aquifers are depleted could create unmanageable food shortages.
11. If world population growth does not slow dramatically, the number of people trapped in hydrological poverty and hunger will only grow.
12. If the world fails to address the climate issue, the earth’s temperature this century could easily rise by 6°C, devastating food supplies. We have ignored the earth’s environmental stop signs. Faced with falling water tables, not a single country has mobilised to reduce water use. Unless we can wake up to the risks we are taking, we will join earlier civilizations that failed to reverse the environmental trends that undermined their food economies.
13. We know the answers. They include saving water, eating less meat, stopping soil erosion, controlling populations and changing the energy economy. We have to mobilise quickly. Time is the scarcest resource. Success depends on moving at wartime speed. It means transforming the world industrial economy, stabilising populations and rebuilding grain stocks.