US corn forecasts pushing world closer to food crisis | ActionAid UK

US corn forecasts pushing world closer to food crisis

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UK’s biofuel targets contributing to rising food prices.

Today, the US Department for Agriculture projected significantly reduced corn (maize) output in the United States as a result of the ongoing drought, and ActionAid warns that biofuel mandates will play an even greater role in the resultant rising world food prices.

 As harvests grow smaller and US biofuel mandates divert an increasing percentage of corn into fuel, less corn is available for food, intensifying the impact on food prices. 

And the UK is compounding the problem by also using massive amounts of corn ethanol as a biofuel substitute in petrol.

Increasing amounts of corn for ethanol is also now imported from the US. Latest figures show that US corn comprised some 77% (336 million litres) of all UK ethanol; this is up from 25% in the year April 2010 to April 2011.

Tim Rice, Policy Analyst for ActionAid UK, said:

“It is not just biofuel mandates in the US that are pushing up food prices. The UK currently has a biofuel target of 4.5% and is now using vast quantities of corn ethanol to meet this target, pushing up corn prices and pushing us nearer to a new global food crisis.  And it will hit the world’s poorest the hardest.

“Here in the UK there are already reports of rising food prices – and today’s USDA crop forecasts will only worsen the situation.  Already wheat is being substituted for feed internationally to offset higher corn prices, pushing up wheat prices too” Rice added.

ActionAid recommends:

  • Eliminate the artificial market for biofuels: With tight supply and higher prices for many biofuel feed stocks including corn, it's time for the UK and the EU to drop biofuel mandates.
  • The UK and EU should invest in genuine sustainable alternatives to crop-based biofuels and fossil fuels; this would include biofuels from ‘real’ wastes (ie those that would otherwise be disposed of), electric vehicles from renewable electricity as well as reduce transport energy demand through for example greater fuel efficiency in vehicles.

>> Stop biofuels causing hunger. Join our campaign.