Stat of the month: Globalised famine - 130% - The rise in global wheat prices since March 2007

The World Food Programme describes it as a 'silent tsunami': a hunger crisis set to hit 100 million people.

Soya and corn prices are escalating, while rice has risen 70% on last year - not good when three billion people count it as a staple. And there's worse to come. The average family in Bangladesh already spends about three-quarters of its income on food. Stocks are critically low in North Korea, and there has been rioting around the developing world. Troops in Manila oversee the sale of subsidised rice with M-16 rifles. In Haiti, protestors have been storming the presidential palace. Many there rely on biscuits made of clay, 100 of which can set you back two days' wages. The causes are many: poor harvests, high fuel prices, and rising demand in increasingly affluent Asia; people protect against future price-hikes by hoarding now, and stocks are low anyway, due to under-investment in agriculture. Then there's the use of crops for biofuels. Gordon Brown has pledged $910m, saying he'll revise our approach to biofuel. In the words of Peruvian president Alan Garcia: 'I say life first and cars second.' Food for thought indeed.

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