Food or fuel conflict needs attention as biofuel production increases

Food prices have generally been declining since WWII, but the tortilla protests in Mexico last month could be the first sign of a reversal. And biofuels appear to the be number one culprit, or at least critics are going to keep an eye on how much food is being used to feed refineries.

Tens of thousands of Mexicans protested when tortilla prices tripled, hurting the country's poor people.

Experts believe farmers can raise crop production as needed, so the current price hikes may be temporary.

Developing nations are also driving up food prices. As more Chinese reach middle-class status, they prefer to eat more meat. That means additional grain must be grown to feed livestock. China also wants to be more self-sufficient in fuel, so the country is expanding its biofuel production. Again, competition over food stock is driving up prices, and the poor will suffer the most.

One group says that biofuels could be benefits to the poor if low-income countries can develop biocrops.

But on the immediate front, food supplies to poor nations might be in doubt. Food donations have usually fluctuated with prices, so relief organizations are bracing for a shortfall.

[Source: Ruth Gidley /]

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