Biofuels drive millions to hunger, according to articles in the Guardian 3 July 2008 and Washington Times 14 Feb 2008. The charity ActionAid has published a report named “Cereal Offenders” which claims “the 82% rise in food commodity prices since 2006 has directly pushed 260 million people into risk of hunger as a result of the rich world’s drive for biofuels.” At the same time Robert Zoellick, the World Bank president warned the world is entering a “danger zone” caused by rising food and energy prices. He commented: “What we are witnessing is not a natural disaster … it is a man-made catastrophe. I urge the G8 countries, in concert with major oil producers, to act now to address this crisis. This is a test of the global system to help the most vulnerable and it cannot afford to fail.”

According to Benjamin Senauer, a professor of applied economics at the University of Minnesota, “The evidence linking biofuel production to rising food prices can’t be ignored. Between the start of 2002 and early 2008, basic global food commodity prices rose by 220%. The global production of biofuels – ethanol and biodiesel – rose from less than 8m gallons in 2004 to an estimated 18m gallons in 2008.” He went on to write: “Current research, that I and colleagues are working on, suggests that 390,000 additional children under the age of five will die because of this increase in malnutrition due to biofuels. If current biofuel development trends continue, child deaths will rise to 475,000, almost one-half million by 2010.”

Bob Geldof, who represents a campaign group named ONE, said: “It is tragic and absurd that people are still going hungry in the 21st century. I cannot stand the idea that a food crisis born out of high energy prices and increasing global prosperity is starving the super-poor in Africa.”

Editorial Comment: Bob Geldof (and the Guardian) needs to be reminded that the main driving force for using cereal crops to make fuel for machinery, rather than food for people, is that he and his environmentalist colleagues have convinced governments and companies that using biofuels will help stop global warming. He obviously hasn’t noticed that the globe has stopped warming, and rising food and fuel prices, made worse by carbon taxes and trading, will not make any difference to carbon emissions, even if they were the cause of global warming. (Ref. Climate change, politics)

Evidence News 13 August 2008