Friday, June 10, 2011

An Ugly Consequence of Innovation

Martin LaMonica used his Green Tech department for CNET News to relay a story from Reuters that is, to say the least, chilling.  Here are the opening paragraphs:

Governments should scrap policies to support biofuels because they are forcing up global food prices, according to a report by 10 international agencies including the World Bank and World Trade Organization.

The report adds to growing opposition to biofuels targets and subsidies such as those in Europe, Canada, India, and the United States.

"If oil prices are high and a crop's value in the energy market exceeds that in the food market, crops will be diverted to the production of biofuels, which will increase the price of food," said the report.

"Changes in the price of oil can be abrupt and may cause increased food price volatility," said the report.

Last year one of my themes on this site was “reckless innovation,” which amounted to what happens when the novelty of an innovation impedes our ability to think dispassionately about its possible consequences.  Back when Bush was promoting the necessity of a commitment to biofuel, there were a few voices raised about the threat to the food supply;  but they were few enough to be beaten into submission.  Now that the world food crisis is a reality, this seems like yet another example of closing the barn door after the horse has been stolen.

1 comment:

DigitalDan said...

I only need enough oil to lubricate the paddle on my charger anyhow. I'm having trouble understanding what the problem is.