Global Food Chaos Confirms Importance Of Food Security

28 January 2011
SNP Member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Alyn Smith has today (Friday) highlighted further worrying developments in the global food supply chain, with instability in the Middle East kicking off a round of panic buying by Middle East regimes and other countries.
Food prices have played a part in ongoing civil unrest in the region, with rioters in Algeria chanting "bring us sugar", wholesale costs of which are at a 30 year high and food price inflation, in parts, running at 25% last year.  The rice market is under similar pressure with Bangladesh announcing it will double purchase this year and Indonesia, which usually purchases stocks in 200,000 tonne units, this week tendering for 800,000.

Smith said:

"The world is an unstable place, and all the indications are that it will not be calming down any time soon.  Climate change and increasing fuel costs have played their part in the current political instability in some countries, which will itself trigger pressure spikes on the global food supply chain, which is already under unprecedented pressure.

"This backdrop makes it all the more urgent that, as we reform the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, we remember that the primary goal of the policy is food security and feeding our people.  All else is secondary.  However, one might not think that, given the time and energy spent in political debates to peripheral issues and special pleading from vocal lobby groups.  It is crucial that we maintain our focus and resist distraction or lazy assumptions.

"The UK government has been a prime offender in being just so distracted.  I am instinctively in favour of free, fair trade, but the food market is different and we cannot allow a naive assumption that the global food supply chain will provide for our needs to replace a clear-eyed assessment of the world around us.  The CAP has worked tolerably well in ensuring that there were no food riots on European territory last year, where every other continent saw violence.  We in Scotland are no more apart from this interdependent world than anyone else is, and we have a lot at stake in the ongoing reforms."