What causes riots?

The Cause Of Riots And The Price of Food

If we don’t reverse the current trend in food prices, we’ve got until August 2013 before social unrest sweeps the planet, say complexity theorists

What causes riots? That’s not a question you would expect to have a simple answer.

But today, Marco Lagi and buddies at the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge, say they’ve found a single factor that seems to trigger riots around the world.

This single factor is the price of food. Lagi and co say that when it rises above a certain threshold, social unrest sweeps the planet.


And another factor would be monopolization of the food chain by MNC’s:

Unsustainable food monopolies


IT is no wonder the world is witnessing a global rise in social unrest – something that has political leaders fearfully looking over their shoulders.

In short, the so-called “triumph” of the free market system has entrenched rich and powerful corporates and individuals at the expense of emerging communities and local business activity – and people don’t like it.

Once-proud small-scale African farmers, for example, are being forced into penury as a result of the growth of a handful of transnational corporates and the “commodification” of food products.

The global food system has become grossly distorted over the past few decades.

While surplus foods were exported, local communities have largely looked after themselves throughout history. Local farmers produced for local markets and local shops.

Today, however, large sections of the world food trade have been monopolised by transnationals in a way that has created shortages and boosted prices. Food is no longer as available in rural areas. Governments and regulatory authorities seem unable or unwilling to do anything abut it.

The system is unsustainable, with about 1 billion people going hungry while another 1 billion suffer from problems related to being overweight – these being closely related problems.

Felicity Lawrence, special correspondent of The Guardian in London, said that just four huge transnational conglomerates today control 75 percent to 90 percent of the global grain trade. A similar number of seed firms account for half of global seed sales. Just four companies are dominant in the global coffee business and three in the cocoa trade, and so on.

A handful of giant supermarket chains have effectively put thousands of small shops out of business in many countries. For example, four supermarket groups control 80 percent of the grocery market in the UK. Seven supermarket groups control 60 percent of the US market. These chains have a powerful impact on the food chain.

Many of the transnational producers have offshore company registrations and pay very low taxes. Hungry for resources and new markets to keep their profits up, they are responsible for what are described as “commercial land grabs” in Africa, Asia and South America. They take over rural farmland to create “farm factories”, often for export purposes.