When I gas up my car at the current high prices, I may cringe as I imagine the hose chugging gold doubloons into the tank, clinking away the fortune I personally am spending. It may be more fitting, though, for me to hang my head as I picture the tank being filled with someone’s dinner–or the dinner of a hundred thousand someones.
Skyrocketing food prices have been a grave source of concern about local and world hunger. Now humanitarian groups, leaders in faith communities and environmentalists alike are raising concerns about the growing problem of affordable and available food. Especially troubling is the impact on food prices of the exploding market for non-sustainable food-intensive crops as biofuel.
From the New York Times:
…with food prices rising sharply in recent months, many experts are calling on countries to scale back their headlong rush into green fuel development, arguing that the combination of ambitious biofuel targets and mediocre harvests of some crucial crops is contributing to high prices, hunger and political instability.
This year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that its index of food prices was the highest in its more than 20 years of existence. Prices rose 15 percent from October to January alone, potentially “throwing an additional 44 million people in low- and middle-income countries into poverty.”
The development of greener fuels through maize, cassava, sugar, palm and rapeseed oil, and other crops has been a necessary and positive progression in environmental stewardship. Now though, many are justifiably calling for an urgent shift to research and development of more sustainable biofuel sources (such as switchgrass and agricultural waste products). This in an effort to end what has become a feeding of fuel demands at the cost of starving some of the world’s hungriest populations.
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