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Another Food Crisis Cause?

Did the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund somehow contribute to the global food crisis? That’s the intriguing question Salon’s Andrew Leonard poses. He points out that policies by both agencies in the 1980s and 1990s required developing countries to pull back on government intervention in their economies in return for aid. Developing nations also were encouraged to open their borders up for free trade.

While both those ideas sound good in theory, for some poor nations it didn’t really work. Their agricultural sectors never got the government subsidies they probably needed, and cheap imports further depressed profits. Leonard points to the case of Malawi, which defied the agencies and provided fertilizer directly to farmers, in a successful move to boost its agricultural sector.

No one is saying the two agencies are in any way directly responsible for food shortages. As we wrote yesterday, there are many causes, including changing appetites in the China and India, biofuels, and an Australian drought. But as the crisis grows, actions by agencies directly involved in the development of poor nations also will be getting a closer look.

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