Rice Is the New Oil

Rising food prices threaten a more serious global crisis
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2008 3:31 PM CDT
Inflation at the wholesale level in the U.S. soared in March at nearly triple the rate that had been expected as the costs of energy and food both climbed rapidly.    (AP Photo/Ric Francis)
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(Newser) – Even as the burgeoning price of oil slaps consumers at the pump, a darker global market crisis looms as rising commodities prices compound the pressures of poverty worldwide. The UN has said that spiking food prices have started "a silent tsunami threatening to plunge more than 100 million people on every continent into hunger." Newsweek investigates the causes, which are both complicated and simple.

Crop failures are part of it, as are the fuel prices that drive up the costs of transport and fertilization. Investor speculation has played a role, as has government policy, but the main driving factor is increased demand. Rising standards of living in places such as India and China mean that more people are eating better, and more, than ever before.