Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fueling Starvation

The U.S. is slated to divert up to 18 percent of its grain harvest exports this year for domestic ethanol production. This is the result of the so-called "Biofuels Security Act," an incredibly irresponsible bill requiring 10 billion gallons of biofuels by 2010 (30 billion by 2020 and 60 billion by 2030).

Not surprisingly, the bill was sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (IA), and co-sponsored by the likes of Senators Joe Biden (DE), Barack Obama (IL), Ken Salazar (CO), Tim Johnson (SD), and Byron Dorgan (ND).

This legislation will have perverse effects not only in the U.S., but because the U.S. is one of the world's largest food exporters, the artificial run-up in food prices also affects the world price of food. According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the price of "food on the table" (food prices plus international transportation costs) has already risen by 74 percent in the world's poorest countries.

Affecting the basic food needs of the world's marginal populations goes beyond just bad energy policy. The legislation, largely aimed at subsidizing agribusiness in the sponsoring Senators' home states, is not only irresponsible, it borders on immoral.

Cartoon Courtesy of Michael Ramirez, October 30, 2007. http://www.ibdeditorials.com/CartoonsMonthly.aspx?m=21#

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