Crisis Looms as Rice Prices Soar

Countries ban exports, chastise hoarders
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Apr 6, 2008 2:21 PM CDT
A customer buys rice at a market in Allahabad, India, Tuesday, April 1, 2008. India on Monday scrapped import duties on crude edible oils and banned exports of non-basmati rice.    (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Rice feeds half the world's population, but this year there isn't enough to go around and prices have risen by 50% over the last two weeks alone. Population growth is outpacing production, and stocks are at a 30-year low after droughts decimated harvests in China and Australia. Countries are banning rice exports and punishing hoarders to prevent looming food riots, the Guardian reports.

Climate change, the biofuel boom, and increasing dependence on rice have pushed prices up to a 19-year high, and they're not about to level off. The poorest countries are most at risk of unrest, where people spend more of their earnings on food. India has already banned exports of non-basmati rice, and the Philippines has asked McDonald's to cut back on their rice servings.