Saturday, June 23, 2007

Angry Mexicans protest over rising price of edible corn


I've posted about this shit before. Biofuels are gonna be a disaster.

This is just the latest.
In their hands the protesters clutched cobs of corn, the staple crop that makes tortillas and for many of Mexico's poor the main source of calorific sustenance in an otherwise nutritionally sparse diet.

Over the past three months the price of corn flour had risen by 400 per cent. Despite being the world's fourth largest corn producer and a major importer of supposedly cheap American corn, millions of Mexicans found the one source of cheap nutrition available to them was suddenly out of reach.

Poor Mexicans, who normally expect to set aside a third of their wages for corn flour, had always been particularly vulnerable to price fluctuations in the corn market, but a four-fold increase was both unheard of and potentially catastrophic.

The reason for such a substantial increase in the price lay north of the border. In order to wean itself off its addiction to oil, the US was turning to biofuels made from industrial corn like never before. Farmers in Mexico and America had been replacing edible corn crops with industrial corn that could then be processed into biofuels, leading to a decrease in the amount corn available on the open market.

Something has to give. You can't grow millions of acres of biofuel crops without clearing millions of acres of natural vegetation or of crops now being grown for other purposes. Think deforestation, decreased palm oil production and starvation.

And George Monbiot has an excellent article about how biofuels will actually be worse for the climate. "Biodiesel from palm oil causes TEN TIMES as much climate change as ordinary diesel."

As he states:
It used to be a matter of good intentions gone awry. Now it is plain fraud. The governments using biofuel to tackle global warming know that it causes more harm than good. But they plough on regardless.

Great fucking trade-off isn't it?

(read more)

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