Eric Holt-Giménez, Executive Director of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy recently partnered with Raj Patel and Annie Shattuck to bring us Food Rebellions: Crisis and the Hunger for Justice. Recently, Holt-Giménez spent a weekend in New York to introduce his new book and open a conversation about these rebellions.

Perhaps you’ve heard the stats: between 2007 and 2008 approximately 40 food riots occurred around the world. In Mexico, corn prices made tortilla, a staple of the country’s diet, prohibitively expensive for the nation’s poor. In Haiti, soaring food prices led people to the streets, and eventually to overthrow the Prime Minister. Read more

Corn prices peaked during the run up to the 2008 economic crisis at $7.88 per bushel and as the prices of corn and other commodities rose we saw food riots worldwide. Commodity prices soon came back the earth — corn is currently trading at about $4 a barrel. Given that we’re in the middle of an anemic recovery, you’d think spiking food prices are thankfully the last thing we have to worry about.

Not so, say a pair of economists from University of Illinois (via Phil Brasher of the Des Moines Register). In an analysis of past growing seasons, they suggest that commodity corn prices could reach $7 by summer. The reason for the potential coming price spike? Would you believe ethanol? Read more

The World Summit on Food Security convened in Rome this week, where world leaders discussed how best to combat worsening worldwide hunger and escalating food prices. Biotechnology has historically been a part of the debate.

As a polarizing subject, biotechnology has no peer.

On the one hand, it has potential to raise crop yields, increase the nutrient value in food and speed up traditional plant breeding through marker-assisted selection, a biotechnology that does not mix genes of different species.

On the other hand, biotechnology is generally funded and controlled by large corporations. The corporations then patent the products produced through the technology and sell them to farmers to make a profit. Read more