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April 30, 2008 / Mridul

World Leaders Play Blame Game Over Food Crisis

The world is facing a food crisis which is effecting everyone from Japan to America taking inflation to unbearable levels in developed and developing economies alike with the poor countries suffering the most with riots and unrest. But more than anything the leaders around the world seem more interested in one question – Who Is Behind All This?

Indian Finance minister says that the world obsession with the biofuels is affecting the food production and taking the food prices to unaffordable levels. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is blaming people in India and China for changing their diets. Bolivian President too is picking out biofuels as the culprit for the global food crisis. And between all this try to fit Brazilian President’s thoughts that biofuel production isn’t effecting food production at all. Before blaming each other the world leaders forgot to see how little their own governments have done to combat this issue.

India: Trapped Between Inflation & Growth

The Indian Finance minister tied by the promise to his countrymen of low inflation rate and high growth rate found it easier to just toss the blame to the western countries. With elections looming large the Indian minister is clearly running out of economic tools to curb the rising inflation which is at a three year high. Curiously though it was announced this past week that the wheat production in the country has touch record levels and no imports would be needed. It was told to the Parliament that the government has already acquired 94% of the food grains that reached the wholesale market. And it was also found, by a panel of parliamentarians that the prices of food prices have a lot to do with the ‘leakages’ in the Public Distribution System.

I guess the finance minister should look to plug the holes in the public distribution system because in a country with millions dreaming about the $1500 Tata car people are still ignorant about the concept of biofuels. So blaming the western powers for food shortage at home won’t let his government get away from the wrath of the voters.

The Unbending EU

Even after repeated warnings from the scientists the EU hasn’t suspended its biofuel goal leaving the hands of the member countries tied with the obligation of the agreement they signed at the time when biofuels were considered a solution to the rising carbon emissions from automobiles.

Amid calls of suspension of the biofuel goals Britain went through the implementation of the legislation which says that from April 15, 2.5% of all gasoline and diesel fuel sold in Britain must be derived from crops. And the already battered British Prime Minister was found assuring the world that his government was studying the consequences of accelerated biofuel production and would push the EU to change its approach if need be.

USA: Tied Up In Corporate Greed

With oil companies making record profits in the United States everybody seems ‘happy’ in the Bush administration. So much so that it their happiness they have completely forgotten to silent to the people who know whats best for the environment. It is because of the efforts of the officials in the Bush administration that the Environment Protection Agency is now nothing more than a typical government body which can be easily manipulated.

As in the case of EU, the EPA too ordered that about 9 billion gallons of ethanol be blended to gasoline during 2008. Once again the advice of the scientists was ignored who warned that an increased corn production will lead to the expansion of the ‘dead zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico. Fertilizers laden waters of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers will lead to eutrophication in the Gulf, destroying the marine life.

Brazil High On Ignorance

Despite the scientists’ warnings about the consequences of increased biofuel crops production and the rapidly depleting rain forests Brazilian President Lula da Silva refuses to acknowledge any connection between the food crisis and biofuels.

In order to keep up with the EU’s biofuel legislation the Netherlands signed a biofuel agreement with Brazil which would possibly accelerate the biofuel production even more leading to harming the environment and the big oil companies rushing to Brazil to exploit the situation aren’t helping.

No Relief For The Common Man

But what does all this mean to the people around the world? Violence in Egypt over shortage of bread leaving seven people dead; riots in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world which was recently in news for the infamous mud cookies. And what about the people of Darfur who were facing a food crisis of their own even before any biofuel agreements were signed.

Leaders around the world are busy blaming each other but the common people are still to see any concrete steps against the food shortage and rising prices. Leaders are trying to wash their hands off this predicament that the world faces today by blaming policies of other governments while failing to act efficiently at home.

Yes this problem isn’t a local one and numerous global factors are responsible or the current crisis but each and every leader/government official who is blaming other countries has forgotten to introspect how little his/her own government is doing to come up with a solution for this grave situation.

A global policy needs to be formulated wherein the relief work should first be targeted towards the most poor, those who cannot afford the rising prices. Countries who are producing adequate amounts of food grains and those with coffers filled with foreign exchange won’t be affected much but the ones which are heavily dependent on the imports form other countries would be the ones facing the brunt of the food scarcity.

If nothing is done quickly then the world could witness rich countries buying food out of the mouths of the rest of the world.


One Comment

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  1. gyz / May 2 2008 8:37 am

    What a thorough sitrep. I will fav this blog for serious inspection.

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