According to the world’s largest humanitarian organization focused on hunger and food security, the war in Ukraine is exacerbating the crisis that’s also being fueled by supply chain shortages from COVID-19, rising costs and climate change.
On top of that, the U.N. also warns the world’s supply of soil is dwindling, posing another threat to the global supply of food and medicine.
Jo Handelsman, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and Tracy A. Pearson, legal and cultural analyst, discussed how the war in Ukraine is creating a global food shortage during an appearance on “Morning in America”.
“The effects of fuel shortages and the high cost of fuel is affecting farmers,” Handelsman said. “The transport of farm products to processors, we’re seeing all sorts of increases in food prices that aren’t really due to the lack of food from the farm itself.”
Ukraine is known as the breadbasket of the Middle East. Before the war, nearly 30% of global wheat exports came from Russia and Ukraine.
“The best thing that we can do is to try to help Ukraine get that grain out of the Black Sea,” Pearson said. “Right now there are hundreds of ships being blocked by Russia. And in order to help move things along. And to help sort of fix this backlog. What we need to do is help Ukraine get back to business.”
Experts warn there is no quick fix.
“We need to do is make sure that the countries that need food have it,” Pearson said. “Smaller countries are unable to compete on the global market.”
According to Pearson, China, had its worst wheat crop in decades because of flooding due to global warming.
“So they are dipping into this large World Food Bank,” she said. “And so what we need to do is make sure that countries that don’t have it, have it.”
Access to fertilizer and soil degradation are also factors seen worsening the global food supply crisis.
The impact of soil degradation could total $23 trillion in losses of food, ecosystem services and income globally by 2050, according to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
According to the UN, soil erosion may reduce up to 10% of crop yields by 2050.
“If you look at this central part of the United States, and the Corn Belt, half of the land has already lost a lot of its topsoil,” Handelsman said. “In some areas, all of its topsoil. And that’s a worldwide problem.”
According to Handelsman, the loss of soil is one of the unseen crises that we’re facing.
“Because it’s underground, people don’t think about it all the time,” she said. “And we can’t grow crops without good soil, and soil is leaving at a rate of about 10 to 100 times the rate at which it’s made.”
Global food shortages are not a new crisis, but severe food insecurity has grown dramatically in recent years.
“I think folks need to realize that everything is interconnected,” Pearson said. “You know, a war going on across the world impacts us in this country, and this is, in fact, a U.S. interest.”
Watch the full interview with Jo Handelsman and Tracy A. Pearson in the video player at the top of the page.