Six years ago, food prices spiked dramatically worldwide. In some countries sharp price rises of some staples are believed to have galvanized public discontent causing instability and social unrest. Several commentators have linked the events of the Arab Spring to soaring wheat costs, which hit poor families hard.
Others saw the crisis as yet another reminder of how our current agricultural production systems are becoming increasingly fragile. And certainly there are few factors that may have played a role: competition for cropland from biofuels, high oil prices, speculation in grain markets, restrictions on grain exports plus extreme weather events.
But scientists argue that there is one other underlying element missing from this list: degradation of land and water quality. As a consequence productivity of our agricultural production systems is declining.
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