Monday, April 14, 2008

Production of Biofuels "A Crime Against Humanity"

So said UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food Jean Ziegler today.  I'm not sure I'd go that far, but there's little doubt that biofuel mandates in the U.S. and the E.U. have been a major driver of food price inflation around the world, resulting in greater hunger and outbreaks of riots in a number of third world nations.  As the head of Nestle, the world's biggest food company, put it last month:  "[T]o grant enormous subsidies for biofuel production is morally unacceptable and irresponsible.  There will be nothing left to eat." 

But it's not just poor countries that are feeling the effects.  We also heard today that in the last year U.S. food prices increased at a rate not seen since the early 80's.

But you'll be happy to know, I'm sure, that Congress is on the case, working on a new farm bill that gives help to those who need it most:

But farmers, now enjoying record prices and profits, would also be big winners. Benefits included in the expiring 2002 farm bill--broadly criticized by fiscal conservatives as unduly generous--would be kept largely intact. The House proposal, for example, guarantees farmers $52 billion in automatic payments over the next 10 years even if prices stay high. As the 2006 Post series showed, farmers receive these payments even if they are not growing crops.

Farm state lawmakers have balked at stopping the twice-yearly checks even though they were supposed to phase out after 2002.

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