Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has said wars and political uproar could become a reality if Western counties don’t address global food security.
The former Prime Minister made the comments at a conference of agricultural scientists in Brisbane yesterday, The Australian reports.
Rudd told the audience he wants food security to be on the agenda of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth next month as well as the G20 summit in Cairns on November.
He is also calling for a push for trade liberalisation to provide access to give poor African countries access to European and US markets.
Rudd said global food production would need to increase by 70 per cent by 2050 to feed an expected population of 9.3 billion, and this will require greater productivity.
"A food-secure world requires that those currently living in rural poverty become able to produce agricultural surpluses, allowing them to sell the excess for income, to invest in better agricultural practices and to insure against the bad seasons that from time to time will inevitably come,” he told the audience.
"Failing to address the challenge of food insecurity will also have political, social and broader social security repercussions," he said.
Rudd pointed out that the revolutions in the Middle East this year began with protests about the cost of bread.
"If, as a global community, we fail, the consequences for all our peoples of a starving planet are potentially catastrophic — political conflict, war, large numbers of internally displaced persons affecting all our countries."
Africa has 60 per cent of the globe’s uncultivated arable land, Rudd said, but “distortions” in world trade did not allow prices to encourage Africans to invest in agriculture.
Therefore, he said, it is essential that Australia help the "poor farmers of the world" by pushing for an outcome at the Doha Round of international trade liberalisation talks.