How Oil Prices Affect the Price of Food

2677 words 11 pages
How Oil Prices Affect the Price of Food
By Post Carbon | Wed, 21 December 2011 18:07
The current global food system is highly fuel- and transport-dependent. Fuels will almost certainly become less affordable in the near and medium term, making the current, highly fuel-dependent agricultural production system less secure and food less affordable. It is therefore necessary to promote food self-sufficiency and reduce the need for fuel inputs to the food system at all levels. The connection between food and oil is systemic, and the prices of both food and fuel have risen and fallen more or less in tandem in recent years (figure 1). Modern agriculture uses oil products to fuel farm machinery, to transport other inputs to the farm, and to
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To summarize, high oil prices contribute to soaring food prices. Our modern global food system is highly oil-dependent, but petroleum is becoming less and less affordable. Extreme weather events also contribute to high food prices, and, to the extent that such events result from anthropogenic global warming, they are also ultimately fuel-related. Thus there is no solution for the world’s worsening food crisis within current energy and agricultural systems. What is needed is a major redesigning of both food and energy systems. The goal of managers of the global food system should be to reduce its dependence on fossil energy inputs while also reducing GHG emissions from land-use activities. Achieving this goal will require increasing local food self-sufficiency and promoting less fuel- and petrochemical-intensive methods of production. Given the degree to which the modern food system has become dependent on fossil fuels, many proposals for delinking food and fossil fuels may seem radical. However, efforts to this end must be judged not by the degree to which they support the existing imperatives of the global food system, but by their ability to solve the fundamental challenge that faces us – the need to feed a global population of seven billion (and counting) with a diminishing supply of fuels available to fertilize, plough and

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