Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fueling Famine

Few understand the global food crisis better than Josette Sheeran, the executive director of the UN World Food Programme. Below are excerpts from a Newsweek interview with Sheeran in which she outlines the pernicious link between world oil prices and global famine:

What is the primary factor driving this surge in prices?

"The number one factor I look at is the price of oil. It may seem a strange thing, as I'm in the hunger field, but I wake up every morning and start in the back of the paper and I look at the price of oil, because if the price of oil stays high or goes higher, I know that the energy buyers in food markets will be buying food as an energy input at a very expensive price. That is the world we are in now that is new."

Are you saying that because people are buying ethanol—

"The demand for food as an input into energy production, whether it's biodiesel or bioethanol or any of these, is a global phenomenon. And it affects everything from palm oil to cassava to everything else … There isn't much marginal room in the global food supply system. We've been consuming more food than we produce for the last three years. "

"We" meaning the world?

"Yes, we the world. Now, there's a point at which it doesn't economically make sense to buy food as an energy input. It's pretty low; it's apparently when oil hits about $70 a barrel. So anything above that makes food a very viable energy production input."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Grow less wheat..we need ethanol..
Cull hogs, the feed is too high and we have too much pork, price is too low, need higher price.
Food costs more, as transportation costs go sky high..government caused most of it.