¿Es peligroso especular con los alimentos?

ROMA – Los precios de muchos alimentos básicos aumentaron espectacularmente en el período 2007-2008, lo que dio lugar a una crisis alimentaria en muchos países pobres y en desarrollo. Por ejemplo, los precios internacionales del maíz, el arroz y el trigo alcanzaron sus niveles más altos en 30 años, lo que creó inestabilidad política y económica –y provocó motines—en muchos países.

Varios factores contribuyeron a la crisis, incluyendo los precios altos del petróleo, la elevada demanda de productos para el sector de los biocombustibles, la caída global de las reservas de alimentos y una menor producción de cereales. Un crecimiento económico fuerte junto con políticas monetarias expansivas estimuló más la tendencia, al igual que algunas medidas proteccionistas, como las restricciones a la exportación.

Si bien estos factores sin duda presionaron a la alta los precios de los alimentos, no pueden explicar por sí solos los pronunciados aumentos. Algunas personas creen que la crisis se vio acentuada por las operaciones especulativas en los futuros de los productos básicos, que se han convertido en parte integrante de los mercados de alimentos.

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