The Meal, Ready-to-Eat – commonly known as the MRE – is a self-contained, individual field ration in lightweight packaging bought by the United States military for its service members for use in combat or other field conditions where organized food facilities are not available. While MREs should be kept cool, they do not need to be refrigerated. .. MREs have also been distributed to civilians during natural disasters. .. Each meal provides about 1200 Calories. They .. have a minimum shelf life of three years. .. MREs must be able to withstand parachute drops from 380 metres, and non-parachute drops of 30 metres. (
yes ALLFED has a much wider range of proposed alternate foods - see www.ALLFED.info/papers or Prof Denkenberger's book: "Feeding Everyone No Matter What"
yes storage is very expensive, and yes testing is necessary
ALLFED in Alaska is working on various pilots - ref Prof David Denkenberger
yes the World Bank has created a parametric insurance scheme for the Carribean, Pacific and Africa
actually governments have been funding this:
see foodsecurity.ac.uk, AMIS (FAO/WFP) etc. Also the Climate and Security Network at Clingendael, Netherlands.
The Chinese government is also doing a lot, as they have living memory of famine, but it's hard to get inside info.
Correct - you have identified the challenge perfectly!
This is a major task, and a simple concept is to ensure that payouts are in food and logistics, not cash
Also, this may just be me, but it took me awhile to get this sentence: "MRE futures markets could also ensure firms who explore innovative ways to make MREs of a demand for their product", because I read it as "...markets could also ensure firms [do something]" and then as "...markets could also ensure [the creation of] firms".
I feel weird writing applause-type feedback on OB, because I've never seen anyone do it, but the negativity of this comment thread is too much.
This is cool. First, the whole topic is cool--I hadn't thought before today of food planning as an existential risk mitigation, and it makes a lot of sense.
But the insurance scheme is cool too. It's Robin applying economics knowledge in a novel context, one of Robin's core competencies. And it's mainly pulling a policy rope sideways, as much as my fellow commenters want to reduce it to the familiar back-and-forth.
I would consider this a basic function of government to operate.
It won't work in the private market as the risks is too high that the private sector wouldn't have probably insured themselves for this event. Its just too small of probability with large tail risks. How would an insurance company really invest today so that they have the resources to deal with this in the future. They can't.
The only organization with the ability to do this is the government. Our largest insurer. Question is whether they survive the crisis and have the resources to execute. Most US taxpayers would have no problem funding disaster food to people who were at no fault for causing the disaster.
I am just not a very good reader, I guess.
Potential flaw; what types of events would lead to near-term mass starvation, but have functioning market mechanisms for enforcing these contracts? Seems like a very unlikely case.
This looks quite interesting and would nicely pair with the efforts in making agriculture more efficient sustainable particularly in urban areas - nationalgeographic.com/maga..., maybe something that could be done when excess is produced instead of dropping prices too low during the year. Definitely a thought provoking idea
I explicitly mentioned nations as one of the possible insurers.
My post doesn't specify govt or not funder, nor does it require unequal insurance.
Our elites are beginning to realize that efficient medical care is better produced by government funded medical care rather than through the insurance extraveganza. (Moreover, people increasingly detest private insurers.)
Why wouldn't it be more efficient for government to fund research into dealing with food crises, particularly since the main objective relates to the scientific/engineering issue of producing cheap, deliverable food?
Seems the burden is on you to justify creating a source of profit for the insurers and a source of social tension through differential access to food in emergencies. (Are the uninsured to starve?)
I just reread (sorry I didn't read carefully enough at first). I like the concept, but doubt the execution. The countries that are most likely to experience famine and create refugee crises are the ones without any of the the infrastructure to make your idea work. How would this work in south Sudan for instance?
What if you did something like this on a national level. Big entities like countries and multinational organizations contracted with insurers and food producers to create MREs that they would deliver to areas in famine in order to prevent humanitarian crises?