Agflation Is Causing Crisis

A border guard sells rice at a government subsidized outlet at Nawabganj in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Friday, April 11, 2008. The price of food has skyrocketed around the world, leading to riots in some countries and fears of starvation in others, and Bangladesh, a desperately poor and overpopulated nation, is one of the most vulnerable, experts say. (AP Photo/Pavel Rahman)
AP Photo/Pavel Rahman
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

It's not a term you hear very often but, if you eat, you know what it means. Food is more expensive these days and the reasons why are myriad and complex.

Government mandated use of ethanol has helped push the price of corn higher and higher. Beef prices as well as other proteins have gone up with it as corn is a primary feed for many animals. A drought here, some floods there…and upward pressure on prices starts to gain momentum.

At a news conference last week, Robert Zoellick, head of the World Bank, held a bag of rice and said it now cost Bangladeshis half a day's income. There have been food riots from Haiti to Egypt to South East Asia.

The World Bank is in emergency mode to deal with a crisis serious enough that the bank believes a number of governments could topple if relief doesn't come soon. It wants another $500 million for food programs. So far only about half of that has been pledged.

By Harry Smith