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International Issues
Fuel in.. Food out..
Alternative fuel not at the cost of food security of millions

   The much hyped ethanol as a panacea for the energy deficit of the world remains mired in its own share of controversies and problems. Its production is likely to cause a tug of war between global food demand and fuel needs. The urge of using ethanol as an alternative fuel is not only affecting crops and food supplies but also the world food prices.

In the course of producing ethanol based fuel, maize and sugarcane are being heavily used, changing land-use pattern across the globe. For example, the land used for food cultivation is now being used for ethanol production, thus leading to shortage of land area for cereals. In the US, ethanol production is done through 78 million acres of maize field, which is affecting price of maize based food products. Again almost everything that use corn has seen a steep rise in price. Similarly, the price of palm oil rose by 11% in 2006 and is predicted to be 27% higher on average in 2007 (especially in developing countries). This is badly affecting the Third World countries consumer and their consumption pattern. Stake holders are focusing on amount of ethanol production, crop requirement for the same and the cost involved. However, they seem to ignore the harmful effect of ethanol and its contribution toward rising food prices.

As the developed countries have taken a lead over the rest in their quest for bio-fuels, the concerns for food security for the Third World has been all but lost. Criticising this, Fidel Castro recently noted that the American move has great potential of endangering the livelihood of millions of farmers in Latin America alone. Alternative fuel might sound lucrative but it cannot come at the cost of food security of millions.

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