Rising food prices and a shortage of critical crops is fueling political instability in numerous regions worldwide and might have contributed to uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, according to international food experts.
While food costs were not the primary reason for the unrest in those nations, recent public uprisings do illustrate the risk when such stresses are added to existing political problems, Lester Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute, told the Guardian.
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, food prices reached a record high in January for the seventh consecutive month. Its food price index jumped 3.4 percent from December to the highest level since 1990, when the UN started measuring food prices. “It’s easy to see how the food supply can translate directly into political unrest,” Brown said. In South Korea, which imports about 70 percent of its food, President Lee Myung-bak has urged the formation of a national task force to procure food supplies in the face of these rising costs.
Rising food prices are often directly linked to the cost of fuel in the form of crude oil. Apart from the environmental degradation that fossil fuels cause, they are also responsible for wars and political unrest; another reason why renewable energy sources such as solar energy need to be embraced globally, including the Arab nations.
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