At least not now.
1. From your point of view are the high prices of food also the problem of security or it is still first of all the economic problem?
2. Could we expect some regional wars (maybe state against state) because of lack food, uncontrolled flow of immigrants to Western countries or as the worst scenario some kind of global conflict? If yes, how to prevent this?
Peter Hayes, Professor of International Relations, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Director, Nautilus Institute in San Francisco
1. They are first and foremost a reflection of income distribution inequity; a problem of closed markets for poor farmers in developing countries facing high trade barriers in the OECD/wealthy countries; and only secondarily an economic problem. There is more than enough food in the world. There is not enough cheap food available to poor people; and poor farmers aren’t able to sell their product fairly the the rich countries.
2. Not as a direct outcome, this is not likely. The poor do not have enough power to push back this hard against states, whether they are poor but militarized states in underfed developing countries, or against the rich, overfed, wealthy countries. Of course, as part of a general squeeze that is forcing farmers and poor people to migrate to cities or across borders in a desperate search for survival, it is a contributing factor. The best way to prevent this outcome is to shift from primary reliance on state-centered and very expensive military dominated security strategies to tackling complex interrelated global problems using strategic tools including multilateral diplomacy, opening markets, transferring and adapting technologies, building local capacities, especially of civil society organizations and local governments, and strengthening the role of international organizations such as regional and UN specialized agencies.
Philip Potter, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, University of MichiganFormer Research Fellow, International Security Program
1. At this stage I do not see increased food prices as a pressing international security concern. Rather, they strike me as a short term economic imbalance and with important social and humanitarian implications. For this reason, I do not see interstate conflict or large scale migration as likely scenarios stemming from current price increases.
Remember that it was not terribly long ago that there was a great deal of concern about food prices being too low. The problem with food prices has not been the amount of the increase, but rather the pace, which has been so rapid that it has not allowed additional producers to come online. Furthermore, there are long term benefits to moderate increases in food prices. For example, higher prices could provide an opportunity for first world producers to wean themselves from market distorting subsidies while allowing third world producers with more marginal land and production techniques to profitably access global markets. Thus, I see the problem as one of transition as producers adjust to increased demand rather than spiraling increase (in stark contrast to the rapid global increase in oil prices in which increasing demand is meeting an essentially capped supply – I see this as a much more pressing security issue).
2. I do believe that current increases in food prices have significant implications for domestic stability in certain nations. Historically, rapid hikes in food prices, especially when they put enough pressure on government coffers that leaders are forced to withdraw unsustainable subsidies on basic commodities, have resulted in urban rioting and even the fall of regimes. Egypt is one country that presently appears vulnerable to such upheaval, though it is certainly not alone.
Geoffrey Dabelko, Director, Environmental Change and Security Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
1. Food can easily be considered a matter of security, particularly if security is broadened to focus on human well-being or human security. Food is critical to the development challenges that face billions of the world’s poor every day. Food, health, and natural resource issues are literally a matter of life and death in this context. From a more narrow security frame, food issues should still be understood as an appropriate focus. The violent reactions to food price increases in a variety of poor countries illustrates the priority food presents to poor people and therefore the governments in those countries. Whether the higher prices are due to higher energy prices, growing energy rather than food for biofuels, or pricing and subsidy policy decisions, the social unrest centered around food must be viewed in a security context. The importation of food, as “virtual water,” is also connected to security issues when it is used to overcome water shortages that inhibit raising crops. In this way food may be playing a conflict amelioration role.
2. To date conflict around food is largely within countries rather than between countries.