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Opinion
The Editors

How Not to Respond to a Global Food Crisis

Curbing exports of wheat, maize and other staples only drives up prices for those who can least afford it.

Prices for wheat have shot up since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Prices for wheat have shot up since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg

Food prices have risen to record levels around the world, fueling poverty, hunger and political instability. While there are no quick fixes to the crisis, better-off countries should at least strive not to make it worse.

According to the World Food Programme, some 193 million people worldwide suffer acute food insecurity, due in part to pressures on global food markets that have been building for some time now. Soaring energy prices in 2021 drove up the cost of fertilizers and fuels needed by farmers. Dry weather ruined crops in big food-producing countries such as Brazil, the United States and Canada. Shipping delays caused by the pandemic have disrupted trade.