by Chuck Missler

In recent weeks you might have noticed your grocery bill go up. If so, you’re not alone. Food prices are soaring worldwide. Consumers in many western nations are just beginning to notice the change, however in many parts of the world the rising cost of food has already reached crisis levels.

According to the United Nations, global food prices rose 35 percent in the last year. Since the new year prices have continued to rise. This year corn prices have hit a 12-year high and the price of wheat has jumped almost 90 percent. Likewise, in just the past few weeks the cost of rice has gone from $580 a ton to $760 a ton. Rice is the staple food for more than three billion people around the world. Most of these live in poorer nations, and some already spend 50 to 70 percent of their incomes on food.

Experts are describing the problem as "the perfect storm." Its cause is said to be a combination of various factors: Growing populations means growing demand. Also, the growing middle class in places like China means growing demand for more varieties of food. For example, the demand for beef has increased in China, which in turn effects the price of corn and other crops used to feed cattle.

Unusual weather conditions and drought have also been a factor. In Australia prolonged drought has reduced wheat exports by half and the rice crop this year will be the smallest in history. In Bangladesh a cyclone last summer destroyed 600 million dollars worth of its rice crop. Events such as these have decreased the overall food supply.

Rising oil prices have also had caused food prices to rise. Oil prices effect not only the cost of transporting food, but also the cost of fertilizers which are made with oil-derivatives. Government mandates and subsidies for biofuels have also had an impact. In the US it is estimated that almost thirty percent of the grain harvest is being diverted to make ethanol. Likewise, the European Union plans to start producing enough biofuels to meet at least 10 percent of its transportation needs by 2010.

This situation has not received enough media attention, prompting some to label it the "silent famine." Malnutrition and hunger are growing problems, and charitable organizations are having trouble keeping up with the growing demand. The black horseman of the Book of Revelation speaks of a condition wherein a man’s daily wages are so poor, he can barely support himself, much less his family (Revelation 6:5-6). Could it be that we are getting close? To learn more about this subject, listen to Chuck’s briefing pack titled Behold A Black Horse.