Inderscience Publishers

Global poverty and biofuel production: food vs. fuel

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From early 2008, the issue of rising global food prices moved to the forefront of the international political agenda. As a result of higher food prices, tens of millions of people were pushed into hunger and poverty around the world. Civil unrest flared up in North Africa, Vietnam and Haiti as countries introduced export restrictions on food subsidies and instituted price controls. Food price inflation has been sparking protests in North Africa that toppled longstanding presidents in Tunisia and Egypt. In the food markets, unfavourable weather conditions, rising fuel costs, rising biofuels production, and trade restrictions have added to upward price pressures. Higher food and fuel prices have serious macroeconomic effects throughout the global economy, including adverse effects on growth and inflation, and large swings in the terms of trade - with important balance of payments repercussions. In this paper, we analyse the immediate causes of food price inflation; in particular the role of biofuel, and discuss actions policy makers may need to take to ensure global food security.

Keywords: food prices, food security, global inflation, biofuels, ethanol, global poverty, biofuel production, hunger, fuels, civil unrest, North Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, export restrictions, food subsidies, price controls, Tunisia, Egypt, food markets, unfavourable weather, weather conditions, fuel costs, trade restrictions, upward price pressures, macroeconomic effects, global economy, economic growth, balance of payments, energy technology, energy policy

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