American Elephants

Fueling Famine: The Biofuel Disaster! by The Elephant's Child

Food Protests in Mexico

We have warned about the dangers of subsidizing ethanol production. We have spoken of food riots in Mexico, and Egypt and Vietnam. Orangutans are being killed in Indonesia to make way for palm-oil plantations to feed Europe’s demand for biofuel. In Haiti, five people were killed in protests last week over a 50% rise in the price of food staples in the past year. People are going hungry.

Inflated corn prices encourage farmers to divert more acreage to corn which means they plant less soy and wheat, which drives up the price of those commodities. According to the Washington Times, the aggregate price of wheat, corn, soy oil and soy meal in the U.S. will be $61.7 billion higher in the 2007-2008 crop year than it was in 2005-2006.

Our Congress is promoting famine in the third world because they can’t be bothered to seriously study what they are doing with their subsidies.

If famine and hunger and food riots will not move people to action (and millions of deaths from malaria didn’t seem to bother anyone enough to authorize the use of DDT), there is some news that may spur action.

Drought conditions in parts of Australia and New Zealand where malting barley is grown may mean that Beer will be in short supply, may be more expensive, and may taste different. In the US, hops will be in short supply due to fungus problems, or perhaps to more land being turned over to grain production. Perhaps a shortage of beer will spur letters to Congress.

10 Comments so far
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This is a huge and horrible problem. It must be stopped. But will it?


Comment by renaissanceguy

There is a good article at Reason Magazine by Ron Bailey: “The Biggest Green Mistake”, in which he gets into the problem a little more than I did. What is needed is a great lot of people to write to their members of Congress demanding repeal of the recent energy bill.
In the name of mythical “energy independence” foolish bureaucrats are going to kill a lot of people, particularly in the third world. Unfortunately, this is not a particular concern of the environmental crowd who really want to decrease the population of the world. In the fevered liberal brain, Malthus lives.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

I agree that ethanol subsidies are a sham. They raise food prices, as in this case, for an unsustainable, less efficient and more polluting form of energy production. All those additional pesticides and herbicides for corn production, all the trucking of the corn/ethanol, and the oil used to manufacture the ethanol just makes it moot. It’s just another government subsidy handout to government friends (agribusinesses).

Hooray blogs with animals in the name (


Comment by carolineinthewoods

[…] The energy sector does not look as bad as the logistics. At least on the first view. Depending on the countries between 30 to 60 % is depending on oil. But when you have a closer look on the sources: most of it is based on gas, uranium and coal. These resources are as finite as oil. In Europe the spend of renewable energy is currently on a level of 6.5 %. The role model countries for using renewable energy are Austria and Sweden. Austria copes with more than 20% of its demand by renewable energy sources. The problem is the scalability. Although the big countries like France or Germany are taking some effort to become less dependent on fossils, they are stuck on a level between 5 to 10%. The good news is: innovation is going on in this sector, using wind, wood, bio resources, etc. The question is: is it enough to feed the enormous appetite for power of our societies? Another problem arising is that we risk famines, as too big agricultural crop lands are used for biodiesel production. […]


Pingback by Peak Oil (Part 3) – No More Miles & More for Shrimps and Airbags « Purchasing Transformation

I’m not sure you want to bet that these resources are finite. Remember Julian Simon’s famous wager with Paul Erlich. (See Wikipedia: “Simon-Erlich wager”). America has, it is claimed, enough coal for 400 years. Innovation and invention continue apace. If there is a “peak oil” we are clearly not there yet.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

Well, coal will last a pretty long time. So peak of coal, is probably somewhat away. But peak of oil seems just to be around the corner. Otherwise it would not pay off to grow rape to get biodiesel instead of food. The whole problem is super complex … I gathered some perspectives on Purchasing Transformation around that topic.


Comment by Andreas

[…] we have noted before, in addition to causing high food prices, shortages, hunger, and suffering, they are much worse for […]


Pingback by Secret World Bank Report: Biofuel Caused Food Crisis « American Elephants

[…] Shikwati’s comments are also pertinent because the developed world’s rush to put farm crops into their fuel tanks has disrupted the world food supply, and rising energy prices are also harming poor countries. […]


Pingback by Let’s talk about Global Poverty and the Democrats. « American Elephants

The biggist mass murderers around are the radical greens especialy those eco-extremists like PAUL EHRLICH and AL GORE as well as many many more get the book A POLITICLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO GLOBAL WARMING AND ENVIROMENTALISM


Comment by Mad Bluebird

I also like Roy Spencer’s “Climate Confusion”. Or go to the Science and Public Policy Institute for come of Christopher Monckton’s papers.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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