Biofuels Partially to Blame in Global Food Crisis

Use of corn to produce biofuels threatens world food supply

FRIDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- The global food shortage, which threatens millions of people with starvation, is due to a number of factors, including the growing use of biofuels -- potential food crops that are used as fuel for car engines -- and requires that the international community address the root causes of the crisis, according to an editorial published in The Lancet in April.

The editorial staff of The Lancet describes the economic and political conditions leading to food shortages and inflated food prices worldwide, including the recent doubling of the prices of wheat and rice.

The use of grain for biofuels is a major factor contributing to the crisis, as the corn used for biofuels in America alone is enough to cover the import needs of 82 food-deficient countries. Additional factors include global trade distortions, climate change and growing meat consumption, which diverts grain to feed livestock.

"After the agricultural displacement effects of these fuels are taken into account, emissions from biofuels are many times worse than those from fossil fuels," write the authors. " Without a long-term plan that takes a bold stand against ethanol subsidies, the use of biofuels, and the trade distortions that have contributed to the crisis, any action will just be a temporary sticking plaster."

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