What are the consequences of the food crisis in Latin America?
Rapidly increasing prices for staple foods from 2006 to 2008 culminated in a worldwide food crisis, leading to increased hunger, malnutrition and desperation. A study produced by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) estimates the food crisis will cause up to 15 million Latin Americans to join the existing 70 million living in extreme poverty. Ensuing boycotts and rioting have also caused widespread social unrest e.g in Haiti (April 2008) and Mexico (January 2007). The problem was not merely a short term crisis, as worldwide food prices are to stay well above the 2004 levels until 2015 for most food crops. These trends represent a sharp reversal after years of advancement toward World Food Summit (WFS) and Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets for hunger reduction. This crisis is also putting a stop to the positive trend of a growing Latin American middle class and is affecting the poorest of the poor most acutely. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has acknowledged, ‘The poorest of the poor already spend two thirds or more of their income on food. They will be hardest hit.’ In recognition of the graveness of the crisis, the Irish government appointed a Special Envoy for Hunger in January 2009 to oversee their response to the global food crisis.