Opinion: Global food crisis in 2013
September 3rd, 2012
12:00 PM ET
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Editor's note: David Frum is a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Daily Beast and a CNN contributor. He is the author of seven books, including a new novel, "Patriots."

Prediction: 2013 will be a year of serious global crisis. That crisis is predictable, and in fact has already begun. It will inescapably confront the next president of the United States. Yet this emerging crisis got not a mention at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. We'll see if the Democrats do better.

The crisis originates in this summer's extreme weather. Almost 80% of the continental United States experienced drought conditions. Russia and Australia experienced drought as well.

The drought has ruined key crops. The corn harvest is expected to drop to the lowest level since 1995. In just July, prices for corn and wheat jumped about 25% each, prices for soybeans about 17%.

These higher grain prices will flow through to higher food prices. For consumers in developed countries, higher food prices are a burden - but in almost all cases, a manageable burden.

Americans spend only about 10% of their after-tax incomes on food of all kinds, including restaurant meals and prepackaged foods. Surveys for Gallup find that the typical American family is spending one-third less on food today, adjusting for inflation, than in 1969.

But step outside the developed world, and the price of food suddenly becomes the single most important fact of human economic life. In poor countries, people typically spend half their incomes on food - and by "food," they mean first and foremost bread.

Read - Why 2013 will be a year of crisis

Previously - Modern-day farmers are preventing another Dust Bowl

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Filed under: Disaster • Drought • Environment • Heat • Hunger


soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. bumpkin

    I believe you need to re-think your assertions that Americans only spend about 10% of their post-tax dollars on food. There are over 1 million Americans on food stamps today. Perhaps THAT is where you get your info- they DON'T pay as much for food, because I (and you) pay for the bulk of their food monthly. Food has skyrocketed in price! Does Mamma do the shopping for you? Is THAT why you don't get how much food has already gone up in price? We are paying for the hike in gasoline prices as well through our food purchases, since truckers have to drive it to the destinations Don't pretend that it isn't really biting us in the biscuits. It is, and it hurts, and we DO feel the pain. Also, the pain is FAR bigger than 10% of our income! WAKE UP!!!

    September 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  2. Lovin Laurentiu

    Ask Mr.David Frum about this problem to your president . This problem is created by your guvernment. Who own the HARP ? IDIOTS!

    September 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Jasmine Lindros

      "Guverment?" Please breathe into a paper bag for a few minutes, until you stop hyperventilating. Then wipe the spittle off your chin, and tell us what the relationship is between refinancing a mortgage and increasing farmers' return on sales in our current system of agricultural product distribution.

      September 3, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
      • Mr_Obvious

        Actually Lovin's question about (rephrased) "who owns HAARP" is a valid one and relates to the article above, unlike your rant about refinancing a mortgage, a topic that relates to neither Lovin's comments nor the article this section of comments are supposed to discuss. May be you need a pair of reader glasses and a warm glass of Wake the Heck Up, Jasmine.

        Messing with weather is a documented government agenda and HAARPs play time in our atmosphere has most certainly caused drought and flooding in our agricultural areas. These resultant droughts and floods seem to work perfectly into Monsanto's plan to provide their miracle drought resistant GMO crop seed to US farmers... but then that's just a coincidence.

        By the way, there won't be much in the way of farmer's increased return on sales when they don't have any crops to sell do to drought or flooding. And why would they be worried about profit with all the government subsidy sent their way? You're flame throwing instead of providing us with any fact to change our minds about our ideas on the subject.

        September 8, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
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