Abstract: Almost two thirds of the world’s population depends on rice for food and yet only 6.6 per cent of total rice production is traded on international markets. This is because most Asian governments consider rice too important to national stability to allow free and open trade. Any government that cannot guarantee the food security of its citizens does not expect to stay in power long. The international rice market should be developed but not while ignoring rice’s importance as a staple food to millions of poor in the developing world. To ensure the poor do not become victims, instead of beneficiaries, of open markets and globalization, reliable supplies of cheap food must be protected. Science has contributed much to previous increases in rice production that have helped keep the poor fed and so ensured stability. However, the opening of international markets will require sound polices as well as good science if the poor rice eaters of the world are to truly benefit from such changes.

Read full article here: Rice: Why it Deserves Special Attention
Paper presented by Ronald P. Cantrell at the meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington D.C., February, 2000.