Biofuels, Food Riots and Land Grabs

Last week food riots caused by steep increases in the price of bread left seven people dead and hundreds injured in the southern African country of Mozambique. Not the first food riots this year or the last. The prices of grains are soaring worldwide because of extreme weather, because of biofuels production competing with food production for acreage and because of the increasing wealth and populations in the developing world, not least in the vast markets of India and China, which are fuelling the surge in demand for meat.

Grains have been the stuff of the staff of human life for thousands of years. Now though more than a third of the world's agricultural land goes to feeding meat and dairy production. Meat consumption's long-term growth trend is driving the grain price wildly skyward because it takes [on average] 10 grams of vegetable protien to grow 1 gram of meat. This 10-1 ratio didn't mtter when cattle were foraging on marginal land not suitable for agriculture but now things are different, agribusiness has turned cows into cash machines and our old bovine buddies no longer spend their days ambling through meadows munching now they spend their short violent lives knee deep in their own shit being force fed antibiotic laced grain, wonderful eh.

The World Bank Land Grab Report was made public today, their conclusion: Biofuels Cause Land Grabs simplifies the equation, dummy's it down for us non-elites, by putting the blame squarely on biofuels and avoiding the nasty, uncomfortable fact that what the rich want to eat is at least as big a factor in grain prices and land grabbing as biofuels.

Another factor the spinmeisters of international banking like to avoid are the ecological implications. Agribusiness consumes huge inputs to produce the food-like substances it markets, fertilizer, pesticides, drained aquifers etc. always make bankers happy but they all contribute to climate change whereas organic means of production sequesters atomospheric carbon. As the land grabs in poor countries by corporations and governments increases the bankers and capitialists wll be, once again, raking in obscene profits by spinning the facts, hiding the true costs and calling the difference quarterly profits.

Oh well, it's almost Happy Hour...

A common link among fire, floods, food riots: extreme weather

US Food Riots Much Closer Than You Think