Protectionism That Endangers

By Rod Hunter (The Washington Post)

This week G-8 and African leaders meet in Hokkaido to discuss how to respond to rising prices for commodities such as food. The food crisis highlights the need for farmers in developing countries to become productive participants in the global economy. One of the most important steps to achieve that goal would be for members of the World Trade Organization to to liberalize their agricultural markets.

Prices of staples have risen by more than 80 percent since 2005. The sharp price rises are driven by the failure of the world's farms to keep up with food demand powered by global growth. Years of strong growth has lifted millions out of poverty and led to a shift to diets richer in animal protein. It takes a lot of grain to produce a little meat, and as more people eat more meat, grain demand rises.

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