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World Bank warns of food riots as rising food prices push world populations toward revolt

World Bank warns of food riots as rising food prices push world populations toward revolt thumbnail

A new report issued by the World Bank (1) warns that food prices are skyrocketing globally, with wheat up 18 percent and corn up 12 percent this quarter. Ukraine, one of the largest wheat exporters in the world, has suffered a 73 percent increase in domestic wheat costs. Argentina has seen wheat prices skyrocket 70 percent.

According to the World Bank, these price increases have been caused primarily by three factors: 1) Sharply higher demand for food in China, 2) U.S. drought conditions that hammered wheat production, and 3) unrest in Ukraine due to the near state of war with Russia.

Rising food prices lead to food riots

According to the World Bank, rising food prices have caused 51 food riots in 37 countries since 2007. These include Tunisia, South Africa, Cameroon and India, among other nations.

“Food price shocks can both spark and exacerbate conflict and political instability,” warns the report.

A World Bank blog entry by Senior Economist Jose Cuesta entitled “No Food, No Peace” (2) warns that “It is quite likely that we will experience more food riots in the foreseeable future… food price shocks have repeatedly led to spontaneous — typically urban — sociopolitical instability.”

The following chart shows from the World Bank shows the sharp trend toward increased food prices worldwide:

Hunger leads to revolution

What the World Bank is leading to (but not quite saying) is that hunger leads to revolution. When the People are starving in the streets, there is political unrest that can easily turn violent. Because this is a fundamental human reaction, it is just as true in the United States, UK and other first-world nations as it is in Cameroon or India.

American investigative journalist Alfred Henry Lewis (1855-1914) famously said, “There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy.” He went on to explain, “It may be taken as axiomatic that a starving man is never a good citizen.”

What he means is that hunger dispels the illusions of a polite society and unleashes the desperate animal-like nature that lurks inside all human beings. A starving man trying to feed his starving children will at some point abandon all law and order, doing anything necessary to keep himself and his children alive, including engaging in robbery, assault and murder.

Stated another way, the only reason most people obey laws and agree to live in a socially polite manner is because their bellies are full. Take away the food and all illusions of social friendliness vanish in about nine meals (three days). No local police force can hope to control the actions of the starving masses, regardless of how obedient the population once was when food was abundant.

The coming food collapse is now inevitable

Many are now warning about the coming collapse in the food supply. These warnings include all the following factors:

* EBT CARDS are the federal government’s “food stamp” system that distributes money to over 47 million Americans who use that money on debit cards to buy food. The EBT system depends entirely on the financial solvency of the federal government, an empire steeped in over $17 trillion in debt and constantly on the verge of a financial wipeout. When the day comes that the feds stop funding the EBT cards, food riots are imminent. EBT cardholders have already ransacked a Wal-Mart store, even in good times! (Once the EBT entitlements are cut off, EBT card holders will simply ransack the same stores they used to visit as customers. Once those stores run out of food, U.S. cities will devolve into all-out street warfare.)

* HYDROLOGIC CYCLE SCIENTISTS are warning that much of the food production taking place in the world today — across the USA, India, China, etc. — depends entirely on fossil water extraction from underground aquifers. Those aquifers are being rapidly depleted, some dropping more than a foot each year. Once this fossil water is used up, it’s gone for hundreds or thousands of years. Entire breadbasket regions of the world (such as the U.S. Midwest) will be turned into agricultural deserts. Already, much of Texas and Oklahoma is returning to Dust Bowl conditions.

* ENVIRONMENTALISTS warn that climate change will cause radical weather patterns (droughts, floods, freezes) that devastate the food supply. It is undeniable that radical weather has already caused unprecedented destruction of U.S. food production over the last 18 months. (The underlying causes of such weather patterns, however, remain hotly debated.)

* GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS are genetically vulnerable to disease because they are mono-culture crops with little genetic diversity. Nearly all corn grown in the USA, for example, is genetically modified corn with a near-identical genetic makeup. The situation is obviously ripe for precisely the kind of disease wipeout we’re already witnessing with global banana crops.

* ECONOMISTS are warning that the global money supply is on the verge of collapse. Once it collapses, banking would go down with it, destroying the infrastructure that people use to buy food. If grocery stores can’t conduct financial transactions, they can’t buy inventory to retail to the public, for starters. To stay informed on this subject, read up at or or

* PERMACULTURE advocates are warning that the global seed supply has been deliberately collapsed by biotech companies which routinely buy up small seed companies and shut them down. The intention is to create seed monopolies and eliminate competing alternatives to patented, corporate-controlled seeds. The answer to all this, by the way, is found in the wisdom of people like Geoff Lawton who teaches decentralized, abundant food production based on permaculture design science. (Really, Geoff’s wisdom can save our world if embraced as a replacement for corporate agriculture…)

Temporary illusions of cheap food will soon be shattered

In other words, there are economic, hydrologic and genetic reasons why today’s abundant food supply will come to an abrupt end. The cheap, easy food you buy at the grocery store right now is a temporary illusion of cheap food based on unsustainable agricultural practices that use up fossil water, destroy topsoil and poison the environment.

Even the U.S. government’s subsidizing of food through its runaway food stamp program is a temporary artifact of a nation headed for an inevitable debt collapse. Learn more from

It is therefore a mathematical and physical certainty that this illusion of cheap, plentiful food will soon be shattered. And in its wake, we will be left with a starving, desperate population with nothing to lose by marching in the streets or staging a violent revolt.

America has abandoned food security in favor of corporate monopolies

Everywhere that this happens will see cities turned into death traps. Because of the centralized corporate farming model that now dominates first-world economies, food production (and even farm land) is controlled by very small number of corporate operations. This is the opposite of food security.

A nation practicing food security would encourage home gardens and support decentralized food production that includes urban food production. Interestingly, nations like Cuba and Russia have encouraged precisely these practices, which is why they are more resistant to a food supply collapse.

In the United States, however, home gardeners have been threatened with arrest. People who produce real food are often raided at gunpoint by government authorities. Farmers who try to produce clean, non-GMO crops are sued by companies like Monsanto whose seeds pollute their farm land.

Government and corporate entities have colluded in the United States to monopolize food production, thereby centralizing it in a way that compromises food security. The day of Americans being told to “plant Victory Gardens” during World War II are long gone. Today, we’re told to obediently line up and eat genetically modified soybeans or drink hormone-contaminated cow’s milk. Government now demands our food obedience and actively works against individuals who try to produce their own food at the local level.

Why the food supply is America’s tactical vulnerability

This makes America wildly vulnerable to disruptions in the food supply. While many nations can manage to get by thanks to home gardens and decentralize food production, the United States of America has allowed government and corporations to structure the national food supply system into a precarious, non-fault-tolerant configuration that’s practically begging for collapse.

Just one disruption in the system — a failed power grid, failed fuel refineries or a failed financial transaction infrastructure — would collapse food availability nationwide, sending the population into a near-immediate state of desperate starvation. Martial Law would no doubt quickly follow, after which Americans would be ordered to starve to death at the hands of FEMA instead of starving to death on their own.

On March 16, 2012, Obama declared federal control over all farms, food, livestock and seeds

The federal government already knows everything I’m telling you here. That’s why on march 16, 2012, President Obama issued an executive order entitled, “NATIONAL DEFENSE RESOURCES PREPAREDNESS.”

You can read the official White House press release admitting this right here.

This executive order states that the President alone has the authority to take over all resources in the nation (labor, food, industry, etc.) as long as it is done “to promote the national defense.”

The proclamation gives the Secretary of Agriculture full authority to seize all “food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer.”

The Secretary of Defense is given control over all “water resources,” and the Secretary of Commerce is given control over “all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.”

The federal government sees what’s coming, in other words, and has already laid claim to all YOUR food, farm land, livestock, fertilizer and farm equipment, among other food-related assets.

If, after reading this, you aren’t double-checking your secret storable food stockpiles, you’re crazy. As a small plug if you want to help support Natural News, we offer the world’s only certified organic long-term storable non-GMO freeze-dried fruits (plus some FD organic veggies) at the Natural News Store.

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20 Comments on "World Bank warns of food riots as rising food prices push world populations toward revolt"

  1. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sat, 31st May 2014 7:32 am 

    Liebig’s law of the minimum for the global economy is FOOD. Food will collapse weak states quicker than any other issue leading to the critical states failing in the global economy. Other tipping points will impact food and by themselves would not be BAU game ender. A financial system crash would not be so bad if everyone had plenty of food supply. Climate change would not be so bad if food were still plentiful. We could handle an oil shortage if food were plentiful. We could solve AGW by telling everyone to quit working and buying and just stay at home it everyone had food. I know I am being simplistic but you get the point FOOD IS THE CRITICAL factor in the global economy

  2. paulo1 on Sat, 31st May 2014 8:07 am 

    When I read this article I had the bizarre vision of an American food riot at Walmart, some 350 pounder lurching out of his 4 wheeled motorized scooter and flailing away at the empty pop tart shelf.

    There is lots of food in the US for everyone who lives there. It can get done. Yes, it might take a little violence to get leadership moving,
    though. Exports would be reduced and laws would make this happen.

    These articles always make me wonder about the audience? There is the possibility that these ‘war power controls’ over food supplies might actually be prepped because food has been monetized by Wall Street and this could be a way to protect citizens from profiteering. But no, there is always a more sinister implication. If food has to be fairly rationed to avoid unrest then so be it. It might help civility survive in the short term. As bad as Govt is and can be, I’d rather line up behind a FEMA truck or use a ration card at Safeway than deal with a Tony Soprano for food.

    Still need to punch out the banksters, regardless.


  3. Juan Pueblo on Sat, 31st May 2014 8:26 am 

    Bread and circus. Not much has changed since the Romans. I believe that as long as we can keep the population fed and the electrical grid, cell phones, and the Internet running to provide entertainment we’ll be OK. If we lose any of those 3 all bets are off!
    Funny to see the World Bank talking about this. A sign of the times?

  4. hculliton on Sat, 31st May 2014 11:48 am 

    I guess I’ll have to crack the spine of that cookbook I bought a while ago. It’s by Rod Sterling and called; “To Serve Man”. I hear that there’s a really good recipie for Soylent Green.

    Paulo1: the mental image you painted was beyond funny! Thanks. You also make a good point about being skeptical of extraordinary claims. I’ll hold a few bankers down for you as long as we start with my brother-in-law the hedge fund manager. If he became a serial-killing pimp for underage hookers my opinion of him and his kind would improve.

  5. J-Gav on Sat, 31st May 2014 12:03 pm 

    Take down the banksters first if you want to even begin to address the other issues efficiently.

    But a deeper problem is the linear thinking that underlies most policy decisions as well as popular opinion (propaganda works)!

    If we’re able to get beyond the notion that yesterday was like the day before – ergo: tomorrow will always be like today, that would be nice. Evolution has not been linear, but ‘punctuated.’ A systemic approach, much more ‘natural,’ by the way, could get interesting results rather quickly – but that isn’t really underway on any large scale yet is it?

    Perhaps we’ll need some sort of new punctuation sign in our writing systems to get this point across … &à”#!

  6. Northwest Resident on Sat, 31st May 2014 2:09 pm 

    This article is sounding the alarms, and from my point of view, those alarms need to be ringing and howling loud and clear for everybody that is perceptive enough to hear them. The more people that catch on to the reality of our rapidly disintegrating situation and take positive, realistic steps to deal with the uncertain future, the better. The big cities definitely have the potential to turn into death traps once TSHTF. There will be streams of looters and starving folks who make it out of the big cities, and in their desperation they will carry danger with them. Even your next door neighbors could end up turning into blood sucking zombies. I believe this time is coming at us fast like a speeding and out-of-control locomotive — there is no stopping it. And yes, the U.S. Government definitely knows what is headed our way, and that it cannot be avoided. That’s why they cleared the path for emergency confiscation of vital resources as in the March 12 declaration mentioned in this article, and why in the same year (2012) the rules were officially changed to authorize U.S. Military forces to engage in “whatever it takes” to prevent destruction of federal property and to assist local municipalities put down civil unrest, or to just do it anyway even without requests from the local authorities. When you see the U.S. Government making concrete preparations for the coming collapse like these, you know it is getting real, and that the time to start making your own preparations is right now.

  7. Kanute on Sat, 31st May 2014 2:48 pm 

    Exactly the quality article you would expect from Natural News. By the way, buy our foodstuffs!

  8. DMyers on Sat, 31st May 2014 6:09 pm 

    Everyone should have a plan. My plan is to jump in my car, as soon as a food crisis is announced. I will go to the nearest grocery, which for me is Wal*Mart. I’ll yuck it up with the National Guardsmen surrounding the place, and one of them will let me in to sift through the scattered debris of food items. I’ll evade the mob by sneaking out the back door and trusting my survival instinct to lead me back to my car and drive home. That will buy me a couple of days to grow my own food, while grocery shelves are restocked. To avoid burning calories, I’ll spend a lot of time in the Lotus Position, slowing my heart rate and metabolism.

    If every one were to have a plan like that, zombyism could be mostly avoided. Someone told me I would never make it to Wal*Mart because my car would be hijacked half way there and all its gas stolen. Supposedly, they could even take a couple of my fingers for appetizers. Something like that couldn’t happen in the neighborhoods I drive through.

  9. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sat, 31st May 2014 6:52 pm 

    D, maybe there will be a rapture and all the “EVIL ONES” WILL be melted away like wax near a fire leaving only the happy warm and fuzzy ones left.

  10. John Anderson on Sat, 31st May 2014 6:57 pm 

    WTH. A quick google of wheat charts over the last five years show the price of wheat trending downward. The authors of articles like these just conveniently ignore when ag prices take a dive.

  11. DMyers on Sat, 31st May 2014 7:52 pm 

    Davy, exactly what I’m hoping for, a severe moral parsing. I think I experienced rapture after someone slipped me an alleged mushroom back in ’71. It’s been that long, and I’m ready for a second round.

  12. Makati1 on Sat, 31st May 2014 8:15 pm 

    “…When the day comes that the feds stop funding the EBT cards, food riots are imminent….”

    That day is coming. They are already cutting the amounts, and eventually, they will have to end it because there will be no way to print or tax enough to cover the numbers. That 47+ million would already make a soup line 17,800+ miles long. Wait until it is 60+ million or 80+ million.

    Yes, the government is preparing. They know what is coming and soon. Are YOU prepared?

  13. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sat, 31st May 2014 9:09 pm 

    Mak, still preferable to your third world mega metro area with 12MIL hungry natives with little hope of food supply when collapse sets in. Are you prepared Makster?

  14. bobinget on Sat, 31st May 2014 9:11 pm 

    The number of illegal migrants reaching Europe has risen eight-fold in the last year and is higher than during the Arab Spring, new figures from the European Union’s border agency show.

    The majority of the migrants are crossing from Libya and comes after the country’s interim interior minister warned last month that his government would help migrants leave for Europe if the EU didn’t give his country financial aid to cope with the influx.

    From January to April this year, 42,000 migrants were recorded by Frontex, the European Union’s border agency, with 25,650 of these crossing from Libya.

    Large numbers of Syrian and Eritrean refugees are waiting in Libya to be illegally smuggled to the European Unions, the deputy head of the Warsaw-based border agency warned on Wednesday.

    At least a third of the latest arrivals are Syrians, fleeing that country’s civil war. But other significant numbers are coming from Afghanistan and Eritrea.

    It comes after the Libyan interior minister, Salah Mazek, said: “I’m warning the world and Europe in particular – if they do not assume their responsibilities, Libya could facilitate the transit of this flood.”

    Gil Arias Fernandez, Frontex’s Deputy Executive Director told the BBC: “If the current trends continue, and with the summer months approaching, there is a strong likelihood the numbers will increase further,”

    The influx is set to grow further as summer weather makes the sea crossing easier, he added.

    On Wednesday, the Italian government said the number of migrants arriving had increased significantly to more than 39,000.

    Frontex said the figures fo the first four months of this year are more than eight times the number of arrivals in the same period last year.

    The total for 2014 so far is more than the equivalent period in 2011, the year of the Arab Spring, which eventually saw the arrival of 140,000 illegal migrants.

    In Calais, where the French authorities have destroyed two squatter camps, the BBC reported that it found migrants from a countries spanning West Africa to Bangladesh, with large groups from Iran and Pakistan’s tribal regions.

    Experts say the latest numbers are not surprising, after relatively low levels of migration in the early months of 2013.

    “The main route through Libya was closed for so long that people in sub-Saharan countries have been waiting for a couple of years,” said Franck Duvell, associate professor at the Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society at the University of Oxford.

    “So the numbers have been building up and people were waiting for the very first opportunity to move,” he told the BBC.

    “I’m not sure this implies that we are going to see ever-more people arriving in the EU over the next couple of months. We’ve got to wait and see.”

    Much of the influx has been attributed to the crisis in Libya, where the BBC said it had recently seen evidence that large numbers of migrants are still waiting to cross. Some estimates put the figure as high as 300,000.

    Italy said that that since last October, when it launched its “Mare Nostrum” [Our Sea] rescue operation, the cost of patrolling its patch of the Mediterranean has risen to £24,200 (300,000 euro) a day.

    Ewa Moncure, a Frontex spokeswoman said: “We know from the numbers of migrants that are arriving in Italy that the people smuggling networks are doing very well in Libya. Libya has become the main transit country for migrants from west Africa, the Horn of Africa, and Syria. Those boats that leave Syria should never be allowed to sail as they are unseaworthy and always overcrowded, causing the tragedies we have seen.

    “We know that people from Syria are heading to EU countries that offer them asylum and a right to stay. Most European countries offer asylum to Syrian and the German authorities are reporting high numbers of Syrians arriving.”

  15. Perk Earl on Sun, 1st Jun 2014 1:21 am 

    If the post 08/09 near collapse initiated govt. and Fed responses to higher oil price, i.e. QE, Zirp, cash for clunkers, Operation twist, etc. have on the one hand temporarily extended BAU, then I wonder if that insures when s does htf, the entire system will go down in one fell swoop? Or will it be another step down in economic activity, with collapse occurring later? I think it will be the former and this is why:

    The analogy is an old car a person uses regularly but on a low income so only so much can be done to extend the life of it. Maintaining it and replacing parts as needed but always just barely having enough funds to fix it. But we all know some integral part of the vehicle will at some point go out, like sucking a valve, throwing a rod, crunching a drive shaft bearing or the trani will go south, but it’s going to fail at some point. And when it does this person’s limited budget will mean the auto goes to the wreckers yard.

    And in a world of oil priced too high for the economy to work as it once did, the fiscal setup is only so much can be done. There is QE, Zirp, operation twist, cash for clunkers, etc., but once some threshold passes the fiscal capability to right the ship will no longer exist and collapse will occur.

    It just seems like if those adjustments made in 08/09 and since by the TPTB, will take us as far as we can until the system throws a rod, insuring something integral breaks that cannot be fixed. Whether that is inflation, deflation, hyper-inflation, or something else is anyone’s guess.

  16. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sun, 1st Jun 2014 6:43 am 

    Perk, I feel what was done during the post 2008 near “Minsky Moment” of financial paralysis was proper. The system had to be flooded with liquidity to regain confidence. The key word is confidence. People everywhere had to believe that they could still trade and exchange, have trust in wealth, and confidence to invest. Anything that restored confidence was in order. “BUT” that is where it ended. The story of 2008 is a debt bubble deflation and Ponzi scheme unravel. What TPTB decided to do was re-inflate a new debt bubble by taking this short term tool they used to regained confidence instead of allowing the system to adjust its disequilibrium that was present pre-2008. Debt is nothing more than a claim on a future as yet produced tangible. The disequilibrium of 2008 was a debt bubble or debt disequilibrium. Debt levels were beyond a rational balance of productivity and the tangible to the abstract claims of debt. Reality and laws of nature require that equilibrium be restored. What did TPTB do globally but continue the disequilibrium by another method. Of course we know why and that reason is the requirements of growth to battle entropic decay. Our complex system cannot shrink without a bifurcation to a lower level of economic activity. The fall is the dangerous part because chaos enters the system. A complex human system cannot do a managed de-growth without unintended consequences. TPTB are terrified of decent. It calls into question all that they are empowered to preform and all they have promised. Our system today is so far out of equilibrium because of multiple issues mainly, limits of growth, diminishing returns, overshoot of carrying capacity, climate instability, resource depletion, and inability to manage waste. The tools needed in the next financial confidence crisis will not be there because debt is no longer an option. At some point pain is inevitable. This time around the pain will be intense, ugly, and generational. We have entered a new paradigm of decent. All the norms we have grown up with will be tested and many will be useless. The most dangerous part of this cycle shift will be the first few years of decent until the reboot. That is when we are falling without a foundation. All we can do is build resilience and hope for the best.

  17. Northwest Resident on Sun, 1st Jun 2014 1:36 pm 

    Perk Earl — Your analogy of the global economy being like an old clunker just barely smoking and rattling its way down the road toward inevitable breakdown couldn’t be any more correct. Any one of several critical parts of that old clunker could blow out at any moment — same with the global economy — any of the critical parts required to keep it running could blow at any moment. And as with the old clunker, when one of those critical parts of the global economy blows, it stops dead in its tracks, just like the old clunker. If we’re in a clunker and that happens, then we’re stranded and we probably have a long way to walk to get back home. I don’t see the breakdown of the global economy being much different — when it goes, we’ll be stranded, and who knows how we’ll ever get back home to safety once that happens.

  18. dissident on Sun, 1st Jun 2014 1:49 pm 

    If only they had adjusted the CPI fraction of food downward, then everything would have been OK. When I go shopping for food I safely ignore all the spiking prices since I know that inflation is really on 2%. /sarc

  19. Perk Earl on Sun, 1st Jun 2014 4:18 pm 

    “The most dangerous part of this cycle shift will be the first few years of decent until the reboot.”

    Davy, accurate synopsis on your whole post, but not sure about the reboot part. Are they really going to be able to jolt the system back into coherence? Or is that the reboot for those having suffered through and survived the bottleneck and have the honor of trying to cobble something livable together again. No google glasses though – lol.

    Maybe while the silk screen business is still up and running I’ll make some “I made it through the bottleneck” T-shirts to sell for silver coins post collapse.

  20. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sun, 1st Jun 2014 8:15 pm 

    Damn Perk, its gonna be a crap shoot. Very possible a reboot might not be in the cards because things are just that unbalanced. Yet, we may find the higher nature found sometimes in us humans prevails and we work together. I know this and that is there will be no escaping the pain. This is gonna be ugly and messy no doubt especially with the poor attitude found in our society today.

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