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"If food security cannot be restored quickly, social unrest and political instability will spread and the number of failing states will likely increase dramatically, THREATENING THE VERY STABILITY OF CIVILIZATION ITSELF." The fast-unfolding food shortage is engulfing the entire world, driving food prices to record highs. The world has not experienced anything quite like this before. In the face of rising food prices and spreading hunger, the social order is beginning to break down in some countries. In several provinces in Thailand, for instance, rustlers steal rice by harvesting fields during the night. In Darfur, during the first three months of this year, 56 U.N. grain-laden trucks were hijacked. Thus far, only 20 of the trucks have been recovered and some 24 drivers are still unaccounted for. This threat to U.N.-supplied food to the Darfur camps has reduced the flow of food into the region by half, raising the specter of starvation if supply lines cannot be secured. In Pakistan, thousands of armed Pakistani troops have been assigned to guard grain elevators and to accompany the trucks that transport grain. Food riots are now becoming commonplace around the world. On top of other trends, climate change presents new risks. Crop-withering heat waves, more-destructive storms, and the melting of the Asian mountain glaciers that sustain the dry-season flow of that region’s major rivers, are combining to make harvest expansion more difficult. In the past the negative effect of unusual weather events was always temporary; within a year or two things would return to normal. But with climate in flux, there is no norm to return to. During seven of the last eight years, grain consumption exceeded production. With grain stocks at an all-time low, the world is only one poor harvest away from total chaos in world grain markets. This troubling situation is UNLIKE ANY THE WORLD HAS FACED BEFORE. The challenge is not simply to deal with a temporary rise in grain prices, as in the past, but rather to quickly alter those trends whose cumulative effects collectively threaten the food security that is a hallmark of civilization.

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