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New York Times Editorial: Biofuels Production Contributing To World Food Crisis

Thursday, April 10, 2008

(American Meat Institute)

Corn-ethanol production is contributing to a world food crisis and the United States and other developed countries have an obligation “step up to the plate” and help solve this increasing problem, according to an editorial published today in the New York Times.

“Last year, the food import bill of developing countries rose by 25 percent as food prices rose to levels not seen in a generation,” the editorial reads. “Corn doubled in price over the last two years. Wheat reached its highest price in 28 years. The increases are already sparking unrest from Haiti to Egypt. Many countries have imposed price controls on food or taxes on agricultural exports.”

The editorial points to International Monetary Fund estimates that corn ethanol production in the United States accounted for at least half the rise in world corn demand in each of the past three years.

“Washington provides a subsidy of 51 cents a gallon to ethanol blenders and slaps a tariff of 54 cents a gallon on imports. In the European Union, most countries exempt biofuels from some gas taxes and slap an average tariff equal to more than 70 cents a gallon of imported ethanol. There are several reasons to put an end to these interventions. At best, corn ethanol delivers only a small reduction in greenhouse gases compared with gasoline. And it could make things far worse if it leads to more farming in forests and grasslands. Rising food prices provide an urgent argument to nix ethanol’s supports,” the editorial notes.

“Continued growth of the middle class in China and India, the push for renewable fuels and anticipated damage to agricultural production caused by global warming mean that food prices are likely to stay high. Millions of people, mainly in developing countries, could need aid to avoid malnutrition. Rich countries’ energy policies helped create the problem. Now those countries should help solve it,” the editorial concludes.

To view this editorial in its entirety, click here: http://www.meatinstitute.org/storylinks/2008/NYTimesEditorialTheWorldFoodCrisis.pdf

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