198110 International Food Insecurity Before the 2008-2010 'Silent Tsunami:' A Case Study of Food Production Deficits and Nutritional Analyses during the World War II Era

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 9:10 AM

Laura M. Calkins, PhD , Women's Studies/History, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
The United Nations, the IMF, Chatham House, and other international bodies are warning that the world faces a continuing massive food supply shortfall in the immediate future. Global warming, droughts, and other water scarcity problems linked to international border management issues caused food supplies to drop and prices to increase sharply in 2008. This 'silent tsunami' of food shortages in some regions and rising prices of basic food commodities elsewhere triggered riots in North African and South Asia, and direct food aid appeals by 30 sub-Saharan countries. As market pressures continue to regulate prices in water- and credit-scarce environments, the UN World Food Program estimates that up to 960m more people will suffer undernourishment during the coming year.

During the 1944-47 food supply crash, government-controlled pricing and distribution mechanisms were used. The crisis persisted year-on-year amid war and population dislocations, causing severe nutritional consequences from China to the Sudan to Canada. In some countries, like Britain, reliance upon price mechanisms was replaced by import/export restrictions and targeted rationing to maintain basic nutritional standards. Now, with the global credit crisis, governments are considering use of their newly-acquired controls over banks, gained by purchasing banks' debts and ownership shares, to address the food crisis. This leverage, plus IMF and UN guidance, can funnel credit toward increased food production and equitable distribution, displacing market signals with goal-driven government public health and food policy directives, such as those used in Britain in the World War II era.

Learning Objectives:
Define 2008-2010 'Silent Tsunami' Food Crisis Identify Global Pricing & Environmental Aspects of Crisis Compare Current Crisis with WWII-Era Food Crisis Assess Government Tools to Manage Price and Nutrional Outcome of Systemic Food Shortages

Keywords: Food Security, International Public Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a specialist in the Modern International History of Asia with graduate training in international economics, and my research on post-WWII economic and security studies includes consideration of bioethical issues, including food security. Selected publications of note include: 2008 “Bio-Sampling, State Authority, and the Civil Defense Imperative: A Case Study of Covert and Coercive Aspects of the Mass Blood Typing Campaign in Michigan, 1950-1951,” Future Tense: Proceedings of the 10th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Bioethics an the Humanities (2008), p. 70. Review: SM Jager and R Mitter, eds., Ruptured Histories: War, Memory, and the Post-Cold War in Asia (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2007) in Canadian Journal of History (Saskatoon SK), Vol 44 (1) forthcoming. Review: Eric Laferriere and Peter J. Stoett, eds., International Ecopolitical Theory: Critical Approaches (Vancouver BC: University of British Columbia Press, 2006), in Electronic Green Journal (forthcoming). Review: Josh Newell, The Russian Far East: A Reference Guide For Conservation and Development (McKinleyville CA: Daniel & Daniel, 2004) in Electronic Green Journal, (University of Idaho) 1 (23) 2006: http://egj.lib.uidaho.edu/index.php/egj/article/view/3150 "The Early Standardization of Human Anatomical and Physiological Values for Radiation Dose Calculation," (with K.J. Kearfott) Health Physics Vol. 72 No. 6 [suppl.], p 512. "The Early Internationalization of Safety Culture: The Impact of Yugoslavia's Vinca Reactor Accident of 1958," (with K.J. Kearfott) Health Physics Vol.70 No 6 [suppl.]. "Information on China's Environmental Policies in U.S. and British Government Monitoring Serials," Electronic Green Journal Vol. 1 No. 1 (June 1994):http://egj.lib.uidaho.edu/egj01/calki01.html
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.