Trending up: Many commodity prices have risen sharply in 2007, reflecting increased interest in biofuels, strong demand, weather-related events and geopolitical concerns. Source: IMF
On the heels of an ominous report on rising food prices by the FAO comes another warning from a U.N. expert that the rush towards converting crops to biofuels could potentially have a destabilizing effect on global food security and political stability.
Jean Ziegler, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, has called for a five-year moratorium on the use of crops for biofuels, calling it a "crime against humanity." Strong words, but they have a ring of sensibility. He voiced concerns that growing production of biofuels is pushing the price of crops to record levels and could lead to more hunger worldwide.
He said that to divert arable land from producing food to producing biofuels burnt for fuel instead would be disastrous, especially for the world's poor — something also expressed by both the IMF and FAO last week. According to the FAO, rising energy and food prices could mean increased global instability and riots, especially in nations most vulnerable to such fluctuations.
In the US, where there is an eagerness to employ alternatives to oil, the switch from wheat and soya to biofuel crops such as corn, which can be turned into ethanol, has resulted in a sharp rise in food prices.
Mr. Ziegler proposed that within the time of the five-year biofuel ban, better technologies to convert crop byproducts such as corn cobs and banana leaves could be further developed, negating the need to use crops themselves.
See also ::Don't Bet on Biofuels, ::The Dangers of Biofuel, ::Global Warming Could Cause World Crop Collapse, ::Oil Sands Truth, ::IMF Warns Of Water and Food Price Impact of Biofuels