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How Ethanol Fuels the Food Crisis

Reuters

In the year since the publication of our article, "How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor" (May/June 2007), the average price of corn has increased by some 60 percent, soybeans by 76 percent, wheat by 54 percent, and rice by 104 percent. What at first seemed alarmist has turned out to be an underestimate of the effects of biofuels on both commodity prices and the natural environment. These price increases are substantial threats to the welfare of consumers, especially in poor developing countries facing food deficits. They are especially burdensome to the rural landless and the urban poor, who produce no food at all. Josette Sheeran, the Executive Director of the World Food Program, calls this a global "tsunami of hunger." Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, estimates that there are 100 million newly poor and hungry people as a result of rising food prices.

Although controversy remains over how much of the food price

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