A friend sent a link to an interesting article that was published today in the Guardian. This article reveals that the increased reliance on biofuels by the US and the EU is driving a worldwide food crisis. The confidential World Bank report, researched and written by an unnamed but “internationally-respected economist,” has not been published but was instead leaked to the Guardian. Among other things, this report claims that the large-scale diversion of corn into biofuels has driven global food prices up by an astonishing 75 percent. (Interestingly, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) estimates that “only” 30 percent of the increase in major grains prices is due to biofuels.)
Why hasn’t this report been formally published and released to the food-eating public? According to the Guardian, senior development sources believe the report, completed in April, has not been published to avoid embarrassing President George Bush, who is never hungry — ignoring the fact that Bush does an excellent job embarassing himself every day.
“What we are witnessing is not a natural disaster — a silent tsunami or a perfect storm,” wrote Robert Zoellick, the bank’s chief, in a letter obtained by The New York Times. “It is a man-made catastrophe, and as such must be fixed by people.”
Mr. Zoellick was a former deputy secretary of state and top trade envoy in the Bush administration, and has been in office at the World Bank for one year. He also, has never in his life been hungry.
Three years ago, the G8 pledged to “make poverty history,” but instead, a global food crisis has resulted that is causing poverty in historically large proportions. According to ActionAid, a coalition of groups that campaign on behalf of poor countries that are often populated by starving people, estimates that food prices have risen by a shocking 82 percent since 2006, causing the ranks of the hungry to swell to over 950 million this year. ActionAid estimates that a further 750 million people are now at risk of falling into chronic hunger while as many as 1.7 billion people, or 25 percent of the world’s population, may now lack basic food security.
Of course, we all know where this is going: because more cereal grains are being diverted into biofuels, the price of all food — not just cereals — is increasing because wheat and other grains are increasingly being fed to meat animals, instead of to people, thereby increasing the pressure on agriculture to produce more of these grains, too. Worse, the production and use of biofuels is “dirty”; adding to the world’s global warming woes.
Already, this generalized lack of food is causing increasing economic instability in countries that are already poor. This lack of food is directly linked to rapidly increasing environmental destruction as the hungry convert more land to food production. This in turn, is creating a global water crisis that is further complicated by global warming, which is rendering areas around the equator drier and less productive.
Despite all these dire predictions, NO ONE has mentioned the elephant in the living room: rampant unchecked population growth! Everyone is tiptoeing around the fact that the human population has grown to a point where it is outstripping the available resources, and unless we make a serious commitment to reversing this trend, we will literally eat ourselves out of house and home, and then we will end up eating each other. To solve this problem, the US and the EU must make a concerted effort to provide accurate sex education to everyone and to make birth control methods — pills, diaphragms, IUDs, condoms and yes, even abortions — available to everyone in the world, free of charge!
But no one — not one person! — in a position of power has the moral courage to state the obvious. This disgusts me.
The Guardian. (quotes).
The Lede (quotes).
The New York Times (quotes).