As food prices continue to rise, various theories have emerged as to the underlying forces driving prices higher. BBC News reported today on the growing debate about the role biofuels might play, and highlighted a vigorous rebuttal from the President of Brazil.
Brazil, in particular finds itself defending the biofuels industry at a conference of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Brasilia. Both Brazil and the U.S. are heavily invested in the production of corn and sugar-cane-based fuels, with Brazil being the world’s largest exporter. BBC News reported Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s comments:
“Biofuels aren’t the villain that threatens food security,” said President Lula.
“On the contrary… they can pull countries out of energy dependency without affecting foods.”
He said that rises in food prices came because people in developing countries like China, India and Brazil itself are eating higher up the food chain–shifting from grain to meat–as economic conditions in those countries improved.
An interesting argument. Could there be a connection between rising obesity levels and rising food prices? It’s something to think about, and it’s another reason to follow through with that diet you’ve been thinking of doing. We already know that our food consumption habits affect far more than our dating prospects.
So Brazil says it’s simply a supply and demand situation, others note that agriculture is highly dependent on petroleum and that skyrocketing oil prices are a primary cause of food price increase. And as I continue to read these kinds of stories, as well as OECD reports that weigh the pros and cons of biofuels, it is apparent that there is no single cause or villain, and that we haven’t seen the last of the debate.