Are Biofuels to Blame for High Food Prices?

May 18, 2008 08:30 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
As global food prices rise and nations around the world face shortages and riots, biofuels are getting most of the blame but may not be entirely at fault.

30-Second Summary

World food prices have increased by 45 percent in the last nine months, leading to shortages and riots in Egypt, Haiti and elsewhere.

The Tanzanian president is one of many around the world who have claimed that biofuels production has caused of a food shortage and “a problem of high prices.” India and poor nations in Africa have called on the West to stop diverting so many crops to biofuels.

Biofuels began as a reasonable way to reduce carbon emissions and achieve energy security, according to an editorial in the Financial Times. However, the “shambles of a policy” has only caused “hunger and misery elsewhere,” the editorial states.

However, some question the connection between increases in biofuel production and food prices. Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, says that prices are up because poorer individuals are earning enough money to buy more quality food, and people are living longer.

John Holmes, under-secretary general for Humanitarian Affairs at the United Nations, has acknowledged several factors, such as growing populations, dietary changes in places like China and India, and biofuels production.

World food problems could continue if not addressed, Holmes continued. “This is not just, I think, a sort of quick blip in prices which will return to normal shortly.”

Headline Links: The root of the problem

Background: Responding to price increases

Opinions and Analysis: World leaders weigh in

Reference Material: Biofuels and food security


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