Peut-on sans danger spéculer sur les denrées alimentaires ?

ROME – Les prix des aliments de base ont augmenté de manière dramatique en 2007 et 2008, provoquant une crise alimentaire dans de nombreux pays pauvres ou en développement. Les prix internationaux du maïs, du riz et du blé, par exemple, ont atteint leur plus haut niveau depuis 30 ans, générant des instabilités économiques et politiques – ainsi que des émeutes – dans de nombreux pays.  

Plusieurs facteurs ont contribué à la crise, dont les prix élevés du pétrole, la forte demande pour les cultures à destination du secteur des biocarburants, la chute des réserves mondiales en matières premières, et une baisse de la production de céréales. La forte croissance économique et les politiques monétaires expansives ont encouragé cette tendance, tout comme les mesures protectionnistes, comme les restrictions sur les exportations.

Tandis que ces facteurs ont sans aucun doute contribué aux pressions haussières sur les prix des denrées alimentaires, ils ne peuvent à eux seuls expliquer ces fortes hausses. Certains pensent que la crise a été amplifiée par la spéculation sur les opérations à terme sur les produits de base, qui fait désormais partie intégrante des marchés des denrées alimentaires.  

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