Some disturbing news that didn't get as much pickup as it should. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute, one of the foremost thinkers of global food security, has published an analysis of what could happen if people start using grain to power their cars, writes Ben King.
It's not as crazy as it sounds - convert the grain into alcohol, and you can use it to power an engine. It's being heavily promoted in the US, particularly Iowa, which grows a lot of corn and plays a vital role in choosing US presidents. But it's happening in Asia too.
The same about of grain can fill an SUV tank, or feed a person for a year.
The report continues:
The U.S. investment in biofuel production in response to runaway oil prices is spiraling out of control, threatening to draw grain away from the production of beef, pork, poultry, milk, and eggs. And, most seriously, the vast number of distilleries in operation, under construction, and in the planning stages threatens to reduce grain available for direct human consumption. Simply put, the stage is being set for a head-on collision between the world’s 800 million affluent automobile owners and food consumers. Given the insatiable appetite of cars for fuel, higher grain prices appear inevitable. The only question is when food prices will rise and by how much.
Indeed, in recent months, wheat and corn prices have risen by one fifth. For the 2 billion poorest people in the world, many of whom spend half or more of their income on food, rising grain prices can quickly become life threatening.
Another environmental story of unintended consequences. You try to green up your Hummer, and you end up taking food from the mouths of the starving. More here...