scorching heat and a paucity of rain across the US has withered the country's corn and soyabean crops, with the US Department of Agriculture this week making the largest downward revision to its estimate for a corn crop in a quarter of a century...

Prices for this year's corn crop, deliverable in December, have jumped 44 per cent in a month, wheat has rallied 45 per cent, and soyabeans 17 per cent.

The rise in grain prices has inspired comparisons with 2007-08, when a price surge triggered a wave of food riots in more than 30 countries from Bangladesh to Haiti, and 2010, when Russia banned grain exports, setting off a price jump that some have argued helped to cause unrest across the Arab world last year.

... the dramatic rise in grain prices in recent weeks is likely to feed through into the price of food. That could have far-reaching consequences for the global economy, by reintroducing inflation as a worry for central bankers, particularly in emerging markets where food prices account for a large share of inflation. Karen Ward, senior economist at HSBC, says: "What the world economy really needs right now is a break. Any inflationary pressure, particularly that stops the emerging world loosening policy and providing the boost to the global economy, would be a problem."

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