February 18th, 2011
08:04 AM GMT
(CNN) – In Shandong Province in northeastern China, the nation's grain heartland, the worst drought in 60 years has raised the specter of shortages for the world's largest wheat producer.
Russia - still reeling from a drought that slashed wheat harvest by nearly 40% and spurred Moscow to ban exports last summer - hopes new, resilient strains of the crop will lead to a resumption of wheat exports. However, soil damaged by the drought means nearly 10% of Russian wheat fields couldn't be planted this year.
Social media may have fanned the flames of revolt which toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt and triggered demonstrations across the Middle East. But the tinderbox was built on high unemployment, corruption and rising food prices. It's a telling sign that the trouble in Tunisia started with the self immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor protesting the police seizure of his produce cart.
"I think that we have to be careful, as an international community, not to let food prices become not [only] a national security threat in countries, but a global security threat," Ngozi Iweala, managing director of the World Bank, told CNN.