Plowing in Ukraine

As Ideologues Clash, Food Insecurity Becomes a Crisis

We’re now two months into an utterly stupid war in Ukraine. Life in that country has been turned upside down. Global trade with Russia is grinding to a halt. As a result, 12 percent of the calories in the world’s food supply is at risk. Moving fertilizer into farms is becoming a challenge in this prime growing season all over the northern hemisphere. Already, the global food price index of the United Nations has hit a record high. As ideologues clash, food insecurity is rapidly becoming a crisis.

Unfortunately, as the saying goes, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Destabilizing Nations

David Beasley is Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme. He recently explained how this crisis in food security threatens to destabilize countries all over the world:

“This is catastrophe. Because guess where the Ukrainian farmers are right now. They’re on the front lines fighting for the freedom of their country. It’s going to have an impact on the entire world.

“It could lead to not just starvation, but destabilization of nations and mass migration.

“When people don’t have food, when they can’t feed their little girl or their little boy, they’re going to do whatever they need to do. That includes leaving home.”

Compounding the Problem of Sustainable Food Systems

It’s not as if global food systems were working flawlessly before Russia’s war in Ukraine threatened to blow up a big chunk of the world’s food supply. Climate change was already an ominous problem. And then food policy wonks were telling us that the whole system of global agribusiness is responsible for non-communicable diseases that correlate with changing dietary patterns.

So many ideologies are in conflict around the subjects of food, food security, and health that it makes our heads spin.

But conflict for its own sake is itself toxic. Russia trying desperately to prove a point to the Western World is going to cause pain all over the world. Policy wonks with a grudge against “Big Food” are not really bringing us solutions, though they have produced some nifty jargon.

Sometimes anger serves to get people moving in a positive direction. There’s plenty to be angry about in  Putin’s war in Ukraine. Right now, though, we  don’t really have time for random, unfocused anger. Nor do we need layers of food policy jargon.

What we need are policymakers, businesses, NGOs, and activists who are ready to collaborate and solve problems. Not just feud about conflicting food policy ideologies. Otherwise our brewing food insecurity crisis will grow into a human disaster.

Click here, here, and here for further perspective.

Plowing in Ukraine, painting by Leon Wyczółkowski / WikiArt

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April 24, 2022

One Response to “As Ideologues Clash, Food Insecurity Becomes a Crisis”

  1. April 24, 2022 at 3:54 pm, Bruce Daggy said:

    Ted, I could not agree more! One suggestion would be to end the bipartisan love affair with corn ethanol. Although the waste stream from corn ethanol is used as animal feed, it’s estimated that at least 9 million of the 40 million acres of prime farmland used to make ethanol for US gas tanks could be liberated to make food. Add in the acreage used to make biodiesel from soybeans and other crops. Novel idea: have farmers grow food. Also expand the network of community gardens. Convert golf course communities into communities built around a farm. Much we can do!