Europe War Games A Food Crisis

by Tommy Grant

Europe has started to “war game” a food crisis. Over a two-day time span in central Brussels last month, some 60 European Union and government officials, food security experts, industry representatives, and a few journalists gathered to confront the possibility of something barely on the radar a few years ago: a full-blown food crisis.

According to a report by The Business Standard, the combined forces of El Niño and La Niña have crippled Latin American soy output, while Ukrainian and Russian grain farmers have gone to war. Indonesia has also banned shipments of palm oil to Europe, while China is “hungry for crops”. The Mediterranean region is also getting more like a desert. All of this could coalesce into a major food crisis and lead to famines.

This is a strange, or perhaps coincidental situation to war game.


The group sat down and attempted to simulate what might happen in the event of a global food crisis. They also detailed how the ruling classes will “help” and designed policies aimed at prevention and response.

The plush co-working space was hardly a bunker or secure basement in a warzone. But the video images of drought, floods, and civil unrest to the pounding beat of ominous music created a sense of urgency for the totalitarian participants.  “Expect a level of chaos,” warned Piotr Magnuszewski, a systems modeler and game designer who has worked with the United Nations. “You may be confused at times and not have enough information. There will be time travel.”

In Europe, government-led exercises are rare, let alone one focused on food, according to Magnuszewski, science director at the Centre for Systems Solutions in Wroclaw, Poland.

As the food crisis war gaming went on, a few streets away, farmers were stepping up their protests against the EU.

Farmers began protesting in Europe back in the spring of 2023. Protests erupted in Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria, sparked by Ukrainian grain imports. Farmers have argued that Ukrainian grain is a cheaper good that does not follow EU standards and therefore presents unfair competition in the market, according to a report by American University, Washington D.C. 

“The timeliness in terms of the topic was incredibly on point,” said Katja Svensson, a senior food systems adviser to the Nordic Council of Ministers who participated in the simulation. She now wants her region to hold its own war games. “When it comes to movies, it’s engrossing. You really become part of it, and it has a far greater impact,” she said.

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