We are now several months into the global food crisis. Food prices have almost doubled in three years, threatening to push 100 million people into absolute poverty, undoing much of the development progress of the past few years. The new hunger has triggered riots from Haiti to Egypt to Ethiopia, threatening political stability; it has conjured up a raft of protectionist policies, threatening globalization. Yet, Sebastian Mallaby argues that the response to this crisis from governments the world over has been lackadaisical or worse.
The sharp run-up in food prices has triggered riots in several countries and threatened to push millions of people below the poverty line. In this Center for Geoeconomic Studies Working Paper, Karen H. Johnson explains the causes and likely future course of food-price inflation and analyzes the implications for central banks, trade negotiators, and agricultural policy.
The world's agricultural system stands at the shores of a technological Rubicon. On the near side, where most farmers toil today, new strains of crops are still largely the product of conventional hit-or-miss breeding. On the distant side, where the advance guard of farmers and seed companies already operates, a revolution in biotechnology awaits, in which scientists can control breeding and engineer new crops by splicing in genes from species near and far.
This paper seeks to place the divergent approaches of the European Union and United States toward the introduction and marketing of genetically modified (GM) foods and seeds in a broader context. It argues that an important key to understanding why Europe and the United States have chosen to regulate identical technologies in such a dissimilar fashion has to do with recent changes in politics of risk regulation in Europe.
The purpose of this report is to help create a more strategic policy on GM foods in the U.S. Its main product will be a major article that (a) articulates why the next generation of GM foods is a vitally important innovation, and (b) details policies for managing the environmental, health, trade, research and investment issues that arise in the GM food debate. Through a series of meetings in the U.S., along with efforts to catalyze a similar set of meetings in Europe, we will focus on the need for the specifics of a sensible long-term strategy.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.