A very true commentary on the true cost of alternative fuels.
From milk price rises, to dairy products, to corn based products, to pasta, to international food aid for starving people, the West is sucking up food
to turn into fuel to power SUV's, leaving poverty and death behind.
Indian Finance Minister P Chidambaram has said that it is "outrageous" that developed countries are turning food crops into bio fuels. Countries
were doing so while the world's poor are struggling with surging food prices.
Mr Chidambaram said developing economies were shouldering an "enormous burden" from the relentless rise in prices of food and commodities. The
situation was worsened by the diversion of food to produce bio fuels in some countries. Citing the US as an example nearly 20% of corn goes to making
Mr Chidambaram said there was now a climate of food insecurity
It is a sign of the lopsided priorities of certain countries that they will resort to measures that will produce fuel at a
cheaper cost in order to meet the transport requirements of a section of their population.
He said the pursuit of such policies at a time when many in the world could barely afford to eat was "outrageous and... must be condemned".
Corn, soybeans, sugar cane and other crops are seen as sources of clean and cheap biofuels. Correspondents say this results in less grain available
for human consumption, which drives up the prices for basic foodstuffs.
The prices of maize, rice and wheat have at least doubled between 2004 and last month, while commodities such as crude oil and metals have also
spiralled in price.
A U.N. food expert recently called agrofuels a "crime against humanity." Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute says that biofuels pit the 800
million people with cars against the 800 million people with hunger problems.
Four years ago, two University of Minnesota researchers predicted the ranks of the hungry would drop to 625 million by 2025; last year, after
adjusting for the inflationary effects of biofuels, they increased their prediction to 1.2 billion.
The Indian media has been coming out with these arguments ever since Bush said that a possible concern could be the growing middle class in India and
China that are contributing to the growing price rise in foodstuffs.
Even as the world spins into a global food crisis, a
popular theory — voiced by the likes of US President George W Bush and secretary of state Condoleezza Rice — is that the Chinese and Indians are
responsible. The 'logic': due to zooming incomes, they are eating more, causing worldwide shortages. But is that true?
Due to their huge populations, countries like India and China may appear to consume gigantic amounts of food. But the real elephant in the room that
nobody is willing to talk about is how much each person gets to eat. And the answer will shock many.
Total foodgrain consumption — wheat, rice, and all coarse grains like rye, barley etc — by each person in the US is over five times that of an Indian,
according to figures released by the US Department of Agriculture for 2007.
Each Indian gets to eat about 178 kg of grain in a year, while a US citizen consumes 1,046 kg.
In per capita terms, US grain consumption is twice that of the European Union and thrice that of China. Grain consumption includes flour and by
conversion to alcohol.
In fact, per capita grain consumption has increased in the US — so actually the Americans are eating more. In 2003, US per capita grain consumption
was 946 kg per year which increased to 1046 kg last year.
By way of comparison, India’s per capita grain consumption has remained static over the same period. It’s not just grains. Milk consumption, in fluid
form, is 78 kg per year for each person in the US, compared to 36 kg in India and 11 kg in China.
Vegetable oils consumption per person is 41 kg per year in US, while Indians are making do with just 11 kg per year. These are figures for liquid
milk, not for cheese, butter, yogurt and milk powders which are consumed in huge proportion in the more advanced countries.
A significant proportion of India’s population is vegetarian, and so, this is all the food that they get, apart from vegetables and pulses. But the
source of carbohydrates and fats is mainly derived from food grains and oils.
As far as meat consumption is concerned, the US leads the world in per capita consumption by a wide margin. Beef consumption, for example, is 42.6 kg
per person per year, compared to a mere 1.6 kg in India and 5.9 kg in China. In case you are thinking that perhaps Indians might be going in for
chicken, think again. In the US, 45.4 kg poultry meat is consumed every year by each person, compared to just 1.9 kg in India.
Pork consumption is negligible in India, while it is a major item elsewhere. In the European Union, 42.6 kg pork is consumed per person every year,
while in the US, 29.7 kgs are consumed. Pork is a staple for Chinese, and so over 35 kg are consumed per person per year. And, we are not talking
about various other types of meat, like turkey.
All these comparisons are for powerful economies, whether of the west or the east.
But the story would not be complete without mentioning the plight of Africa, where foodgrain consumption in 2007 was a mere 162 kg per year for each
person, or about 445 grams per day. Don’t forget they are not getting any meat or milk products out there.
Perhaps, it is time to include the lifestyle choices of the West in the whole feverish debate on how to tackle the global food crisis.
These figures are collated by the US Department of Agriculture. US per capita grain consumption rose from 946 kg in 2003 to 1046 kg last year. India’s
per capita consumption remained static in this period.
posted on 4-5-2008
This is NOT a shortage issue, it's supply and demand. These third world and communist countries do not have the money to buy food! They're dirt
poor, and what they eat is what they hunt and grow themselves. If we start using corn for diesel, then that can only mean more and more farms, not
less and less food. We might actually use some of this open space here in America for once.
Silly liberals... leave politics to those who actually understand how the world works.
posted on 21-8-2008
Um .... a supply and demand issues IS a shortage issue.
There is more demand than supply, therefore the prices increase.
In America and Europe cattle are raised on grain, as the grain is now being used to produce ethanol there is less grain around. The prices of grain
increase, and therefore the prices of all products tied in with grain, such as milk, meat, etc also increase. People can't afford grain and grain
byproducts, so use rice, thereofre rice also increases in price.
The fuel provided by these ethanol plants is used to power cars, so grain is being used as fuel as well as food. Of course the people who run cars can
pay more than the 3rd world people who want to eat the grain and the grain byproducts, therefore grain that used to be sold s food is now sold as
Sure you can plant more grain fields hey in Indonesia and other places they are cutting down native forest, the last of the natural forests to plant
fields of cane to produce ethanol, all that unused natural land is finally being used, to fuel cars.
posted on 21-8-2008
Why should one country take responsibility for feeding other nation's overpopulation?