Food for Revolution

PRINCETON – Summits are defined by their location. It is quaint that the 1933 World Economic Conference took place in the Geological Museum in London’s Kensington, at a time when international cooperation seemed as alien as a fossilized dinosaur. On these criteria, Deauville, in French Normandy, with the (slightly faded) elegance of a past era of elite luxury, ostentatious consumption, and sumptuous banquets, is also perhaps not an altogether fortunate choice for the G-8 meeting.

This year, the G-8ers are talking about interesting but peripheral issues, such as the economic impact of the Internet. Worse, they are talking about important issues, like food security, in a peripheral way.

The food issue emerged for the first time as a major theme at the July 2009 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, as a response to a commodity boom that was beginning to falter, but that has since reemerged with the force of a hurricane. Now the G-8 will discuss funding for palliative measures.

The issue of food is, however, intimately tied to a host of much broader economic issues, which the international community is not properly addressing. Even though the global economy today looks relatively robust in general, international economic cooperation is more fragile now than at any moment in the post-1945 world.