Demand For Biofuels Hurting Poorer Nations

This is not a new subject, just an example of what happens when governments fail to learn from their mistakes. It’s what happens when foodstuffs are used in biofuel production.

Families from Pakistan to Argentina to Congo are being battered by surging food prices that are dragging more people into poverty, fueling political tensions and forcing some to give up eating meat, fruit and even tomatoes.

With food costing up to 70 percent of family income in the poorest countries, rising prices are squeezing household budgets and threatening to worsen malnutrition, while inflation stays moderate in the United States and Europe. Compounding the problem in many countries: prices hardly fell from their peaks in 2008, when global food prices jumped in part due to a smaller U.S. wheat harvest and demand for crops to use in biofuels.

But it goes even further than that. In terms of the carbon footprint created in producing biofuels compared to that of fossil fuels, fossil fuels out-green biofuels. So how smart is it to do unnecessary harm to the environment while increasing food prices and hurting the poorer nations around the world?

More of history repeating itself happens when governments refuse to learn how markets operate and what happens to them when the government steps in with taxes and price controls.

Argentina’s government has responded with higher taxes, export limits, controls on supermarket prices of meat, wheat and corn, subsidies to food producers and pay hikes of 30 percent for union workers. The moves have temporarily eased the pain but beef producers have thinned their herds in response to government intervention and the price of meat has doubled in the last year.

“Before, we would eat meat three times a week. Now it’s once, with luck,” said Marta Esposito, a 45-year-old mother of two in Buenos Aires. “Tomatoes, don’t even talk about it. We eat whatever is the cheapest.”

The environmental movement really has to come clean on what their goal is. Is it to help the environment, or is it to handicap the United States?

Link: Surging costs hit food security in poorer nationsFossil Fuels Out-Green BiofuelsUnited Nations Warns Of Food Fight