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The following pages contain archive material from the 2009 McGill Conference on Global Food Security.

Impacts of Global Financial Turmoil on Food Security

World food prices have fallen from their 2008 peaks but prices remain well above long-term norms and the food crisis has not disappeared. The numbers of malnourished people increased by 40 million last year and the total number of people with insufficient food has reached almost 1 billion. Underlying trends show that global agricultural production cannot keep up with rising demand without support and investment. The world wide financial crisis has resulted in credit for farmers becoming expensive and difficult to find, potentially causing fewer crops to be planted and exacerbating food shortages. In addition, commodity market prices have declined more rapidly than production costs, yielding tight margins for producers.

The conference will address the impacts of the recent financial crisis on food security in developing countries. Participants from a number of countries where food shortages are severe will present their unique perspectives on the current situation. International aid agencies will review ongoing food security problems and the effect of the economic crisis on their ability to respond both in the short and long term.

The mixture of trade restrictions and trade liberalization has an important influence on household food security and this conference will devote two sessions to understanding how markets function and examining interventions that can facilitate trade imperative to improving global food security.

As biofuel production surged in recent years, use of crops for ethanol and biodiesel production became large enough to influence world crop prices. Energy and agricultural markets have therefore become closely linked and the future demands of, and controls on, the biofuel industry will influence food security throughout the world.

The effects climate change on food production and availability will have a profound impact on both short and long term food security. Understanding the potential effects of changing sea levels, rainfall and temperature on agricultural areas in developing countries is critical to sustainable development and food security in those countries.

Conference participants will be engaged in discussions of these major issues that impact global food security and will generate recommendations for long term policy planning. Priority areas for investments, research and capacity required to increase agricultural production will be identified.