• The 2007-08 food crisis saw the international price of staple agricultural commodities (such as wheat, maize, soybeans, and rice) more than double; today the international price of many of these commodities is again on the rise. A common assumption is that as the international price of such commodities increases, the domestic consumer price of basic food items such as bread, flour, wheat, corn, tortillas, and rice will also increase. However, the degree of this transmission may vary from country to country and from commodity to commodity.

  • The Famine Early Warning Systems Network has released a food security alert for East Africa, citing ongoing drought, uncertain rainfall predictions, and increasing international food prices. Rainfall totals were less than 30 percent of average in certain regions of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya from October-December 2010. This severe water shortage led to a failure of January-February harvests in the region. FEWS NET predicts that as many as five million people in the area will have difficulty meeting basic food and water requirements in the coming months.

  • On February 18-19, a meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was held in Paris to address ongoing global financial and economic challenges. This initial meeting acknowledged that although the global economy has seen a certain level of recovery, there are still challenges and pitfalls to overcome in order to achieve the G20 mandate of improved economic growth and development.

  • Social protection encompasses safety net programs such as conditional cash transfers, insurance programs such as microinsurance or weather securities, and social sector programs such as free primary education. In addition to creating a fairer society, social protection programs can also be key in promoting economic growth through reducing risk and encouraging investment and innovation.

  • Biofuel production has increased drastically in recent years and is expected to continue doing so—by 2020, it is estimated that more than 110 million tons of oil equivalent will be generated by first generation biofuels. With this rapid growth, the role of biofuels in global energy and food markets has come under increasing scrutiny. In particular, the argument that the production of biofuels threatens world food supplies has heightened the sensitivity and controversy surrounding the subject.

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