One of the themes from this year’s Earth Day is to continue encouragement of world governments to develop alternative fuels. One of the avenues the United States government and several western nations have chosen for alternative fuels is biofuels. Biofuels are “solid, liquid, or gas fuel consisting of, or derived from recently dead biological material, most commonly plants.” Two of the most common ingredients of biofuels in this country are either sugar cane or corn/soybeans that produce ethanol.
With the acceleration of the demand for oil and price, Congress has mandated an increase in biofuels production. This mandate has now turned our farmlands into instant gold mines for the struggling farmer. However, every action has a reaction. In this case, biofuels have taken a product from one market and moved it another, meaning corn that is normally grown for the world food market is now ending up in biofuels. This change is causing worldwide food prices to increase due to limited supply and higher demand. One particular food that is experiencing this rapid rise in price and demand is rice, which is a dietary stable in many of third world households. Over the last few months the price for rise has increased 68% worldwide.
Time to wake up America, the rapid rise in price of rice has now hit our beloved shelves. Costco and Sam’s Club have announced a cap on the quantities of rice their customers can purchase at a given time. For example, Sam’s Club is limited their customers to four 20-pound bags of rice per purchase. This limitation is only targeted at imported jasmine, basmati and long-grain white rice.
Rice is not the only food commodity that is under pressure. There are other examples in last few months, for instance the shortage of hops which is causing the price of beer to increase, to bread shortages in Egypt to name a few. So what does this mean?
With our quest to protect the environment and move away for our dependence on oil/gas, I wonder as a society if we have thought through the ramifications of this decision? Are we cutting off our nose to despite our face? Is the environment more important than the human race? All good questions… I guess our actions could be viewed as a form of Darwinism. The more fortunate countries like the US, Canada, and the EU who can feed their people and absorb the increased food prices will prevail while financially challenged countries of the Third World will just stave to death and become shells of their former self.
I guess that’s one way to help the environment and lower the human population all in one move. I just didn’t think we would go to this extreme! Let’s hope we wake up from this fog before it is too late.