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Aug 14, 2015 09:12 AM EDT

Global Warming Will Increase 'Food Shocks'


Researchers from the US and UK say that climate change caused by global warming is increasing the risk of 'food shocks' where crops fail and prices of staple food rises rapidly around the world, BBC News reports. 

The incidence of extreme weather conditions that will have an adverse effect on food production could occur in seven years out of ten by the end of this century.

The authors argue that an over reliance on global trade may make these production shocks worse.

Such 'food shocks' are most likely to be felt across Africa and the Middle East. Countries like the UK and the US would not be as affected because the consumption of processed food in these countries would make them less affected by the changing price of basic commodities.

In 2010-2011, a heat wave in Russia led to a drought in the country that devastated the grain harvest and led to food riots in North Africa as the price of bread rose sharply.

The scientists found that from 2070 onward, severe food shocks could be happening in seven out of ten years.

"It is very difficult to characterise these extreme events and their frequency, but whatwe do see quite clearly is that events that are very rare in the present day are becoming more frequent in the future," said Kirsty Lewis, one of the authors, from the UK's Met Office, according to BBC News.

"The most extreme events of the future are likely to become more intense, so potentially larger shocks and more frequent shocks."

According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, increase in population will drive demand for food up by 60% by 2050 in any case.

Climate change could be the extra element that rapidly changes the global picture.

"We've got these pressures on the food system, part of which is climate change," said Prof Tim Benton, from the UK Global Food Security Programme, according to BBC News.

"But we're highlighting the fact that with weather variability and increases of extremes we are adding a layer of difficulty - Because it happens suddenly within a year, it is more difficult to adjust slowly like we'd cope with demand increases."

The researchers say that governments must try to understand the risks by making efforts to reform world trade and by conducting research on agriculture.

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