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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Food for thought (not biofuels)

You've probably heard about how biofuels are causing world hunger. Well, world hunger's sadly been around for a lot longer than biofuels, and agricultural economist Daryll Ray tries to provide some perspective:
Even if no corn were to be used for ethanol production, over 800 million people around the world would suffer from malnutrition...when corn prices were below $2.00 per bushel [they're now close to $6.00], 800 million people were still food insecure and the US subsidies that enabled prices to remain at those levels were being blamed for impoverishing farmers in the rest of the world.
Ray also notes that during the last world food crisis in the 1970s, we blamed cattle for the food shortages in the developing world, since getting energy from meat requires much more grain than just eating grains.

So corn to ethanol may not be the best environmental or nutritional solution to high oil prices or global warming, but it's not the source of malnutrition.

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