NYTimes: Rush to Use Crops as Fuel Raises Food Prices and Hunger Fears
What is the impact of promoting biofuel consumption as green?
The starchy cassava root has long been an important ingredient in everything from tapioca pudding and ice cream to paper and animal feed.
But last year, 98 percent of cassava chips exported from Thailand, the world’s largest cassava exporter, went to just one place and almost all for one purpose: to China to make biofuel. Driven by new demand, Thai exports of cassava chips have increased nearly fourfold since 2008, and the price of cassava has roughly doubled.
Each year, an ever larger portion of the world’s crops — cassava and corn, sugar and palm oil — is being diverted for biofuels as developed countries pass laws mandating greater use of nonfossil fuels and as emerging powerhouses like China seek new sources of energy to keep their cars and industries running.
“How much does the price of corn in Chicago influence the price of corn in Rwanda? It turns out there is a correlation,” said Marie Brill, senior policy analyst at ActionAid, an international development group.
“For Americans it may mean a few extra cents for a box of cereal,” she said. “But that kind of increase puts corn out of the range of impoverished people.”
I wonder which policy has killed more innocent people: mandating biofuel consumption and its contribution to world hunger and disease, or the bombs dropped in our three wars? I’m guessing the former.