"The competition for grain between the world's 800 million motorists, who want to maintain their mobility, and its two billion poorest people, who are simply trying to survive, is emerging as an epic issue," says Lester Brown, president of the Washington-based thinktank, the Worldwatch Institute. The debate over the impact on food security of the global "gold rush" in biofuels is hotting up. Divergent positions are emerging, ranging from the optimistic:
"We agree ... that the demand for biofuels will tend to lift prices for cereals and oilseeds. But is that a bad thing? What has been holding back agriculture in the developing world is not a shortage of land, but the rock-bottom prices caused by the fact that world markets have been swamped by surplus grain, from both the EU and US. If the demand for biofuels helps to change that, directly by lifting prices and indirectly by mopping up the surpluses, then it will give Third World farming the biggest single boost it has ever had. That, in turn, will do more to alleviate starvation in Africa and elsewhere than all the food aid programmes put together."...to the cataclysmic:
A "perfect storm" of ecological and social factors appears to be gathering force, threatening vast numbers of people with food shortages and price rises. Even as the world's big farmers are pulling out of producing food for people and animals, the global population is rising by 87 million people a year; developing countries such as China and India are switching to meat-based diets that need more land; and climate change is starting to hit food producers hard. ...See also:
"...the surge in demand for agrofuels such as ethanol is hitting the poor and the environment the hardest. The UN World Food Programme, which feeds about 90m people mostly with US maize, reckons that 850m people around the world are already undernourished. There will soon be more because the price of food aid has increased 20% in just a year. Meanwhile, Indian food prices have risen 11% in a year, the price of the staple tortilla quadrupled in Mexico in February and crowds of 75,000 people came on to the streets in protest. South Africa has seen food-price rises of nearly 17%, and China was forced to halt all new planting of corn for ethanol after staple foods such as pork soared by 42% last year."