Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

More on the food crisis and biofuels

Posted by alifinmath on April 17, 2008

An excellent essay in Dissident Voice:

There is plenty of food. It is just not reaching human stomachs. Of the 2.13bn tonnes likely to be consumed this year, only 1.01bn, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), will feed people.

I am sorely tempted to write another column about biofuels. From this morning all sellers of transport fuel in the United Kingdom will be obliged to mix it with ethanol or biodiesel made from crops. The World Bank points out that “the grain required to fill the tank of a sports utility vehicle with ethanol could feed one person for a year.” Last year global stockpiles of cereals declined by around 53m tons; this gives you a rough idea of the size of the hunger gap. The production of biofuels this year will consume almost 100m tons, which suggests that they are directly responsible for the current crisis. In The Guardian yesterday the transport secretary Ruth Kelly promised that “if we need to adjust policy in the light of new evidence, we will.” What new evidence does she require? In the midst of a global humanitarian crisis, we have just become legally obliged to use food as fuel. It is a crime against humanity in which every driver in this country has been forced to participate.

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