Food security returned to the top of the public conversation yesterday, as C. Peter Timmer, Harvard University Cabot Professor of Development Studies, Emeritus, contributed an opinion piece to the Wall Street Journal on growing food shortages worldwide.
Timmer was a principal advisor to the joint Asia Society/International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) task force report, Never an Empty Bowl: Sustaining Food Security in Asia, which was released last fall.
In his Journal piece, titled "Failed Policies Lead to Food Shortages," Timmer writes: "World food prices are pushing higher—the United Nations overall food index shows a 28.3% annual increase, with cereals up 44.1%—sparking concerns that a new food crisis may be emerging, just three years after the last one. Does this mean the world is running out of food?
"The quick answer is that the world does seem to be running low on cheap food. There is still an ample potential supply of foodstuffs; it's just not getting tapped, thereby creating low current supply even as demand shoots up with the rise of large emerging markets."
Timmer goes on to call for significantly higher investment in agricultural research and infrastructure, concluding, simply, "We can do better."
Never an Empty Bowl: Sustaining Food Security in Asia