Thursday, April 17, 2008


The reason why I haven't been blogging about Lebanon is that not much is happening. My friend Zaynab Ghosn who writes for the excellent science page of Al Safir and who lives in Egypt wrote today a long review article about the global increase in food prices. She drew on the new report by the International Food Policy Institute and on World bank and other similar publications. I do not need to talk again about this issue, as the piece contains nothing that has not been already discussed on the blog, but we exchanged emails. She asked me why had there been no public discussion of the issue in Lebanon, while in Egypt a number of conferences and seminars had already been organized. Of course, the fact that there has been bread riots in Egypt has to be factored in, and I expect public discussions to be held in Lebanon very soon. I'm not sure about the level of discussions in the rest of the Arab World, but my feeling is that they are probably not too deep. I have one question to policy makers: are the Arab food systems ready to absorb the shock? In ecology (and we are dealing here with ecological systems) the capacity to absorb shocks is termed resilience: "the capacity of an ecosystem to tolerate disturbance without collapsing into a qualitatively different state that is controlled by a different set of processes. A resilient ecosystem can withstand shocks and rebuild itself when necessary. Resilience in social systems has the added capacity of humans to anticipate and plan for the future."

Ar our food systems resilient? Because we sure are going through a shock.

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