Friday, June 13, 2008

When in Rome

When in Rome don't do as the delegates to the World Food Summit do. Major protests and riots around across the globe indicate a notable food crisis is looming. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations recently convoked in Italy to address the issue. No coherent policy emerged. So to use another cliche "while Nero fiddles Rome burns." For a number of years I have advocated biofuels as a major alternative fuel. Informed opinion now suggests, however, they are not a panacea and the use of corn, for example, takes a staple food out of the world food supply. The inputs of energy from corn to make ethanol do not lead to a net gain for the environment. Meanwhile, in the first 3 months of this year, commodity pricing for staples such as wheat and rice have skyrocketed, the FAO food price index rising 53% in that alarmingly short period. World food reserves have fallen to the point where we are only two months production away from running out.
Source: Eric Reguly, Globe and Mail, June 2nd, 2008.