Biofuels: enemy of the world's poor?
Fortunately, some newspapers take a more skeptical and nuanced view, by asking the essential question: to what extent does increased biofuels production impact on food production and rises in global food prices? The answer seems to be: we don't really know yet. It may well contribute something, but it is not as if a couple years of biofuels promotion has undone an global situation which was otherwise in wonderful shape. In fact, the fingerpointing at biofuels might just be a (new) way of ignoring the weightier and longer-standing reasons for chronic food insecurity in developing countries. Might it have also to do with existing international trade policies and the subsidized-to-the-teeth agriculture industries in America and Western Europe? Lack of committment to (god forbid) family planning in developing countries? I am reminded of the story about Malawi, published in the New York Times the last time I was here: how the country went from the brink of famine to being able to export corn by ignoring the neo-liberal policies of the International Monetary Fund. Many developing countries, like Malawi, have been dealing with food insecurity for years. Biofuels production might be only delivering the coup de grace, while taking the rap for the whole ugly thing.