Food riots occur if there is a shortage and/or unequal distribution of food. Causes can be food price rises, harvest failures, incompetent food storage, transport problems, food speculation, hoarding, poisoning of food, or attacks by pests.| When the public becomes too desperate in such conditions, they may attack shops, farms, homes, or government buildings to attain bread or other staple foods such as grain or salt, as in the 1977 Egyptian Bread Riots. Often, food riots are part of a larger social movement, such as the Russian revolution or the French revolution.
Due to a wheat crop failure in the mid-western United States due to drought in 2012, as well as simultaneous dryness during the start of the Russia's wheat season, a deficient monsoon rainfall in India and a drought in Africa's Sahel region, prediction were made for a possible outbreak of protests and riots akin to previous years. Yaneer Bar-Yam, the president of the New England Complex Systems Institute, said that computer modelling suggested an outbreak of instability, while he also blamed the use of corn for ethanol as exacerbating the problem. However, the director of trade and markets and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, David Hallam, said that there was no imminent danger of such an outcome, though a worsening change in climate and government policies, such as export bans and panicked-buying, could trigger such a scenario. Oxfam added that a one percent increase in the price of food could lead to 16 million more falling below the poverty line. The International Food Policy Research Institute's Director-General Shenggen Fan suggested a global crisis could "hit us very soon. [Using corn for ethanol] actually pushed global food prices higher and many poor people, particularly women and children, have suffered."
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- Robert Kennedy. "Food riots predicted over US crop failure - Features". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- Ann, Luzi (2012-08-14). "Global Food Crisis May Hit Us ‘Very Soon,’ IFPRI’s Fan Says". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- Bush, Ray (2010). "Food Riots: Poverty, Power and Protest". Journal of Agrarian Change 10 (1): 119–129. doi:10.1111/j.1471-0366.2009.00253.x.