Alarmed by high food prices and shortages worldwide, some 29 countries are banning or reducing exports of foods to make sure they have enough at home. Such limitations pose a threat to countries that rely on imports, forcing prices up further, the New York Times reports. What’s more, the restrictions are in turn fueling private hoarding. "People are in a panic, so they are buying more and more—at least, those who have money are buying,” a Philippine rice vendor tells the Times.
“Every country must first ensure its own food security,” says the commerce minister of India, which has barred most exports of rice. But the US disagrees. “One country’s act to promote food security is another country’s food insecurity,” says a trade official. “If every country in the world decided it wanted to produce its own food for consumption, there would be less food in the world, and more people would be hungry,” she adds. (Read more food prices stories.)