Chalk this up to the law of unintended consequences: Rampant food-price inflation caused in part by the desire to save the world with biofuels is leading to a vast increase in the number of people going hungry.
Rising food prices are causing some pain in the US, but many parts of the world are experiencing true hardship and crisis. WSJ:
According to the [USDA]’s annual Food Security Assessment, 982 million people were hungry last year, up 14% from a revised estimate of 860 million in 2006. The number of new hungry people — the biggest increase since the department started producing the report 16 years ago — is roughly the population of Japan…
In the new assessment of 70 developing countries, USDA economists project that the number of malnourished will climb to 1.2 billion people by 2017. A year ago, the economists saw that number falling to about 800 million over a decade.
Today’s sky-high food prices can be tied to farmers’ unable to keep up with the demand for grain. The two central reasons for the demand imbalance are:
- the biofuels boom in the U.S. [which we can stop]
- the new Asian middle class’s appetite for grain-fed meat [which is out of our control]
Since January 2007, the USDA’s index of all crop prices has climbed 44%.