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April 11, 2008
World Bank President chides west for Bio-Fuels program
Just about every time we do an article or blog post about the bio fuels boondoggle here at American Thinker, we hear it from supporters of ethanol that the program does not affect the price of food.
Well, the President of the World Bank doesn't think so. Robert Zoellick criticized Europeans and Americans for diverting agricultural land away from growing food in order to pursue the elusive goal of saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The problem is that there is a food crisis in the world, although you'd never know it if you lived in America. The price of food has skyrocketed:
He said the price of wheat had risen by 120% in the past year, more than doubling the cost of a loaf of bread. Rice prices were up by 75% in just two months. There have been food riots in Mexico and India because of scarcity. Land used to grow corn or other base bio-fuel crops could be used to grow wheat and some of that land could be used to grow rice. Clearly, the massive committment of America and Europe to bio fuels is having the effect of raising food prices to the point that real harm is being felt by poor people around the world.
On average, the Bank calculates that food prices have risen by 83% in the past three years.
"In Bangladesh a 2kg bag of rice now consumes almost half of the daily income of a poor family. With little margin for survival, rising prices too often means fewer meals," he said. Poor people in Yemen were now spending more than a quarter of their income on bread.
"This is not just about meals forgone today, or about increasing social unrest, it is about lost learning potential for children and adults in the future, stunted intellectual and physical growth. Even more, we estimate that the effect of this food crisis on poverty reduction worldwide is in the order of seven lost years."
If farmers want to grow food for bio fuels, fine. But let's stop subsidizing this wasteful and ultimately futile process which only benefits farmers and causes hardship for those who cannot afford it.