According to the current head of the United Nations, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the current situation with Russia, along with other factors, has the potential of creating an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” that could prove to be a “catastrophe.”
Speaking on that Friday, Guterres started loudly ringing the alarm bells about what could happen, saying, during a video message released to the officials from rich, developed nations and their less developed peers, that:
“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022. And 2023 could be even worse.”
Continuing, he noted that what could be a large problem this year could escalate in a major way next year, as the problem snowballs, saying:
“This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage. No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”
Though he cited many factors as causes for the “catastrophe”, such as “climate change”, the obvious problem is obviously Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is a problem for two reasons.
The first and perhaps most obvious reason is that the Russian invasion has impeded the growing season in the Ukraine, one of the world’s chief growers of wheat, as farmers have a much tougher time planting and reaping crops if tanks cut across their fields, artillery shells smash rows of crops to bits, and fields are reduced to ash or mud by airstrikes and marching feet.
That in itself would be problematic, but isn’t the only issue, some allege. The other alleged issue is that the West’s sanctions on Russia in the wake of the invasion have upended food, fuel, and fertilizer markets. Though diesel and fertilizer can be obtained, they’re more expensive and so farmers will have harder times planting and reaping the astoundingly large amount of crops they have in years past.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, however, tried to push back on such a view, saying:
“The sanctions that we’ve imposed on Russia collectively and with many other countries exempt food, exempt food products, exempt fertilizers, exempt insurers, exempt shippers.”
Still, the Russians are keeping goods off of world markets because of anger over sanctions, making the problem all the worse.
Guterres isn’t the only one to warn of a food crisis. A Pennsylvania farmer recently went viral for making much the same point, saying:
“Well, most people don’t know corn for instance, is in cornflakes and corn syrup. Soy beans are in all sorts of products that wind up in your local grocery stores.
“So when you don’t have enough corn or you don’t have enough wheat, or you don’t have enough soy beans, those things, those are major items that we need to — to make all — all of these other products are not going to be in your local grocery stores like we’ve been used to.
“For so long we’ve had enjoyed, you know, lots of food in this country, so we’ve never, ever faced a food shortage, and I think that’s coming in the coming months. The Biden administration that I’ve been urging to take more swift action still hasn’t taken the action that’s — I believe — that’s needed.”