Once again food prices have reached exorbitant levels in world trade, surpassing previous peaks and creating fears of another major global food crisis of massive proportions. What is particularly shocking this time around is how little has been learned from the last crisis just a few years ago, and how criminally slow the international community and national governments have been to put in place measures that would prevent a recurrence of these crazy fluctuations in prices.
It is not just that public memory is short – the more worrying feature is the denial on the part of policy makers about at least some of the important factors that have caused these dramatic price fluctuations; and the associated and continued refusal to take measures that will address the problem. As the last round of food crisis builds up once again and threatens the lives and material conditions of millions of people across the world, it is imperative to take a close and hard look at the evidence on global food prices and their determinants.
One major problem that prevents clarity of understanding on this matter is the persistent belief that prices in global food markets are still fundamentally determined by changes in real demand and supply…..