Report calls on Europe to ‘beat Putin’s global food blackmail’

Warnings have been mounting that the world is facing a global food catastrophe.

At a time when global food supplies were already stretched by extreme weather and the lingering impact of COVID, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised concerns that Moscow is tightening its strangle hold on the world’s fourth-largest wheat and corn exporter.

In an average year, Ukraine’s soils produce enough food to support 400 million people. But the Russian blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports has brought shipments of food that would otherwise have been destined for export markets to a standstill. The impact can be seen in global food prices, which are up by more than a fifth. According to the UN World Food Progtamme, up to 49 million people in dozens of countries ‘could now be at risk of falling into famine or famine-like conditions’.

Aide agencies are warning that it is too late to avert widespread famine in East Africa. The World Bank says 100m more people are expected to go hungry this year. Each 1% increase in global food prices pushes an extra 10m people into extreme poverty.

As the events leading up to the Arab Spring underline, the ripple effects of severe food shortages are stark: social unrest, political instability, conflict and mass migration.

But a report out today from NGO RePlanet suggests that Europe has the capacity to avert mass starvation in the Global South.

“Europe can and must beat Putin’s global food blackmail,”​ urged report author Mark Lynas, a veteran environmentalist and co-founder of RePlanet. “Just as Europe must stop buying fossil fuels from the Kremlin by saving energy, so we must also do our bit to help avoid starvation in the Global South by sparing food at home.”

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