The corn-fueled economy and the corn-fueled candidate [Karl]
The Guardian claims to have a confidential World Bank reportÃ‚Â which concludes that biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% — more than the IMF estimate of 20-30%, and far more than the US government’s claims thatÃ‚Â biofuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises.Ã‚Â The Guardian and the New York Times suggest the World Bank report is being held back to avoid conflict with the US, though bank chief Robert Zoellick has been vocal about the problem.
The Guardian’s reporting on this is fairly shoddy, throwing around percentages without a time frame.Ã‚Â Nevertheless, it is fairly clear that if biofuels moderate energy prices, they tend to have the opposite effect on food prices.Ã‚Â Thus, you have groups like ActionAid calling on the G8 leaders to support a five-year moratorium on biofuel expansion and an end to subsidies and targets aimed at increasing the use of ethanol and biodiesel in the US and European Union.
As previously noted here, Barack Obama has many ties to the domestic ethanol racket and has backed extendingÃ‚Â subsideies for corn ethanolÃ‚Â and tariffs on more efficient sugar cane ethanol.Ã‚Â These are precisely the sorts of policies that ActionAid predictsÃ‚Â could cause an additional 850 million peopleÃ‚Â to go hungry by 2009.Ã‚Â
This seems to be one of those are issues on which there seems to be no sign of an Obama flip-flop on the horizon.Ã‚Â Yesterday, the New York Times editorial board was decrying Obama’s current positions on public-financing limits for the general election, the terrorist surveillance program, funding faith-based groups, the death penalty and gun control.Ã‚Â The NYT has also gone on record as concerned with the way Congressional backing of corn ethanol has driven food prices and may contribute to global warming.Ã‚Â Perhaps the paper — or someone else in the media — will ask Obama sometime whether his domestic ethanol ties (or the votes of Iowa farmers) are more important than the poor starving people of Africa.