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August 05, 2008

The Economist hosts online debate on rising food prices

Lasting through August 8, The Economist is hosting an online debate on whether or not rising food prices can have an upside for humanity.

The proposition is: "There is an upside for humanity in the rise of food prices." For example, do rising food prices benefit farmers? Can they lead to development of safe, genetically modified foods which in turn can help developing nations with marginal farmlands become self-sustainable? And are the shorter-term pains of creating biofuels worth the longer-term gains of reduced transportation costs?

Moderator John Parker feels that “there is always some sort of upside. The question for the audience is how big, and whether it is big enough to be meaningful.”

Pro and Con experts, Homi Kharas, Senior Fellow at the Wolfensohn Centre for Development at the Brookings Institution and Joachim von Braun, Director General, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) sparred off in opening posts that were followed by rebuttals (August 1) and will end in closing statements on August 6. A winner will be determined by popular vote and announced on August 8.

Readers are invited to participate in the online debate.

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