Diverting food to ethanol production drives food prices to record high

Global food prices reach record high.

Recently the World Bank released some worrying statistics about global food prices.

From June to July world food prices rose by 10% with corn and wheat prices rising a startling 25%.

Current prices are now higher than the previous price peak reached in February 2011. This Reuters article about this last price peak is still worth a read. The Reuters article suggests high food prices significantly contributed to the Arab Spring.

Al Jazeera’s ‘Inside Story’ this week addressed this issue and here is where you can watch the Al Jazeera piece ‘Hunger Games: the prices of feeding the world’.

There are numerous contributors to the rise in food prices, changing weather patterns are a significant driver of food shortages and price rises and NGO the World Development Movement suggests speculation on food futures markets are artificially inflating global food prices.

But close scrutiny of US agriculture and energy policies are also worth considering.

Full credit should go to the US for being responsible for 60% of the world’s food aid. This is a noteworthy achievement but US domestic policies are causing huge quantities of maize to be diverted to ethanol production.

But ultimately, as weather patterns continue to trend towards being less predictable, it is agricultural policies like this that will need to change – we simply will not have the luxury of using food to fuel our cars.

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