Saturday, February 16, 2008

Biofuels push hurts the poor?

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization warns about the impact of skyrocketing crop prices.

It estimated that Africa will see a 49 percent rise in their cereal import bill. International wheat prices have skyrocketed by 83 percent in the last year.

Poor countries will pay a record total for cereal imports, despite a fall in the total amount they will import.

The Christian Science Monitor ran a good piece exploring to what extent the skyrocketing food prices have been affected by the global push for ethanol and other biofuels.

An economist at Iowa State University estimates that one-fifth of all the acreage in the US now devoted to the crop will grow corn destined for ethanol, rather than food. Soybean prices have also been affected by this trend.

With huge amounts of crop-growing land in the US devoted instead to energy, it's no surprise that food prices are through the roof.

So we're taking food out of the mouthes of poor people to devote to an energy inefficient fuel.

Talk about the law of unintended consequences.

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