New Global Health Magazine: tackling the global food crisis

global_health_cover-001Just got an email from the Global Health Council about their new Global Health Magazine. I think its an interesting idea trying to use a more traditional form of media to publicize global health issues. However I doubt that its popularity will extend much beyond global health nerds such as myself and those of you reading this blog.

Its inaugural issue focuses on the global food crisis and how the failing economy has exposed more and more people to the risk of going hungry. In an interesting article How did we get here?, Peter Timmer analyzes the major factors which have driven up the price of staple foods since 2007. He see three major, interrelated factors that are to blame:

  1. Rapid economic growth and structural transformation, especially in China and India, put pressure on a variety of natural resources such as oil, metals, timber and fertilizers. Demand simply increased faster than supply for these commodities, and prices for non-food commodities climbed steadily after 2004.
  2. A sustained decline in the U.S. dollar since mid-decade added to the upward price pressure on dollar-denominated commodity prices directly, and indirectly drove a search for speculative hedges against the declining dollar—often in commodity futures.
  3. A combination of high fuel prices and legislative mandates to increase production of bio-fuels established a price link between fuel prices and ethanol/bio-diesel feed stocks—corn in the U.S. and vegetable oils in Europe. The legislative mandates in both the U.S. and Europe stem from longstanding efforts to increase agricultural prices in these rich societies to ease the pressure of rapid structural transformation on their rural economies.

But, he fails to mention subsidies provided to American farmers, which has allowed cheap grain to be dumped in poor economies and has prevented small scale farmers in poor countries to be able to compete in the global market. Hasn’t this devastated domestic food production in these poor countries? Was this not a significant factor that set the world up for a global food shortage? I don’t know that much about the topic, and would love to see some discussion!

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Welcome to the Students for Global Health Equity (SGHE) blog. Published by university students, the SGHE blog seeks to explore news and issues related to global health.

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