KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The devastating effects of the drought are putting millions of lives on the line. That may sound like an exaggeration, but economists call it simple math.
The United States is the world's largest producer of corn. The price of that essential ingredient already hit an all-time high on July 20.
Corn and soy beans just happen to be the major source of food aid the U.S. provides to people in other countries at immediate risk of starvation, said Michael Monson, a professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Missouri.
"The USDA spends $1.5 billion in food aid to 33 million people," said Monson. "If you do the simple math and say there's been a 30-percent increase in the price of food aid, that basically means that same $1.5 billion will only be able to feed 24 million people. That's a 9-million person gap."
Monson said the true effects of the drought won't all play out for another nine to 12 months.
But there are already predictions for 2013 to be a year filled with unrest across the globe, with protests and riots over rising food prices.