the visible hand

it is the theory which decides what can be observed – einstein

Food, an alternative to fossil fuel

Posted by ecoshift on November 4, 2007

Food prices | An expensive dinner |
Nov 3rd 2007
Alarm is growing about rising food prices

“Until two years ago we had too much food, but it was badly and unequally distributed,” says Abdolreza Abbassian, secretary of the intergovernmental group for grains trade at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), a UN agency. Today about 850m people, mostly women and children, remain chronically hungry while 1.1 billion are obese or overweight.

Food is scarcer now thanks to market liberalisation, which helped to cut excess production and lower stocks. At the same time demand for grains and other food commodities has shot up in China, India and other countries with rapidly growing economies. The biofuel industry is gobbling up an increasing share of the corn and sugar crops. And this year floods and droughts around the world destroyed much of the harvest in countries such as Britain, which had one of the wettest years in recent history, and Australia, which had one of the driest.

Concern about the cost of food is even spreading beyond the world’s poor countries. Last month Italians took to the street in Rome and Milan to protest against an increase in pasta prices. They are eating less too: Italians’ pasta and bread consumption dropped 7.4% and milk consumption fell by 2.6% in the first eight months of the year according to Coldiretti, a farmers’ association.

… And efforts to alleviate one problem, finding an alternative to oil, has brought strong condemnation from a proponent of another, feeding the world’s starving poor. Jean Ziegler, the UN’s independent expert on the right to food, calls the growing use of crops to replace petrol as a crime against humanity and wants a five-year moratorium on biofuel production.


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