According to neovideogames.com, when the United States began to look for a replacement for the expensive oil – and they did so both for environmental reasons and because they wanted to become independent of oil imports from Venezuela and some countries in the Middle East – then the price of corn flew into the air for people in Mexico . 40 million Mexicans live on five dollars a day, or less. They got angry and demonstrated when the price increases came.
In 2007, the country’s president decided that there should be a maximum price for the tortilla, and this spring he removed the import tax on a number of foods. At the same time, he entered into an agreement with the country’s rice producers that the rice should be sold for 10 percent less than the price on the world market.
World production of ethanol has tripled between 2000 and 2007. It is expected to double again by 2017, to reach a level of 127 billion liters per year. Biodiesel production is expected to increase from 11 billion liters per year in 2007 to around 24 billion liters by 2017.
In the rich industrialized countries, biofuel production has so far been driven by political decisions. But many environmentalists have pointed out that biofuels are not so good for the environment at all, whether it comes from corn, rapeseed or soy. The great optimism about biofuels is now somewhat subdued. Among other things, Germany has had to give up one of the cornerstones of its environmental program, the E10 program. According to the program, one should mix 10 percent ethanol with regular gasoline. The plan was to introduce this for Germany in 2009.
4: Soil is fallow
But is it right to blame biofuels? In some countries, including France, land is actually fallow – land that could have been used for biofuels. Could not the land that the farmers are paid to lay fallow have been used to produce food that people lack? However, it is not that simple.
If we produce food in Europe for export to Africa and Asia, it costs so much that the poor and hungry on these continents can hardly afford to buy the food. In order to export European food, production must be subsidized. In addition, it must be transported. This means increased consumption of oil, and thus increased oil prices. And that’s not what we want, is it?
Another common explanation for the food crisis is the new and large middle class that has emerged in recent years in India and China. There they eat both more and better than before. And much more chicken and pork, which are fed on grains.
Globalization affects us all. Drought in Australia affects grain prices, because the country is a major grain producer worldwide. In the US, the low exchange rate of the US dollar also means a lot. This makes it cheaper for foreign countries to buy American grain, as a country with rapid economic development, as India and China have done. At the same time, it has become more expensive for consumers in the United States to buy grain and grain products.
Some politicians are also to blame for what has happened. In Zimbabwe – for many years a pantry for himself and neighboring countries – President Mugabe has expropriated the land to white farmers and left it to landless blacks, who did not have sufficient conditions to engage in commercial agriculture. As a result, production has fallen and the agricultural economy has collapsed. Madagascar was another such granary that disappeared.
International institutions (such as the World Bank) have reduced their aid to agriculture , thus making poor countries even more dependent on the outside world. The lending policy of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, has also had an impact. Many countries have been forced to give up being self-sufficient in agricultural products, and have had to switch to exportable products. This in turn has increased the flight from the countryside. People have been driven into the city slums, and it is this population that today is most threatened by hunger. In addition, development aid declined in 2007, for the first time since the turn of the millennium.
Critics say the crisis is due to rampant globalization that benefits only a few. It affects not only poor countries, but also many industrialized countries where the purchasing power of the working class is no longer sufficient. Even in the rich United States, food prices are putting pressure on household budgets. It creates an either-or situation for many families: You have to opt out of something to pay for the food. Or you try to delay the food; dilute the soup with more water or buy soda instead of milk for the kids, because soda is much cheaper.