Even if Obama gets through this dangerous summer without a crisis, he can't keep running the same risks. The Oxfam International development agency recently predicted that global food prices will more than double within 20 years, citing everything from climate change to flat-lining yields. Breathless reports designed to sound an alarm naturally invite skepticism, but the biofuel part of Oxfam's analysis rings true.
The U.S. needs a comprehensive energy policy that ends our reliance on food for fuel. We need it now, and we will need it all the more in the future.
The Chicago Tribune recently published an editorial, Gotta Eat, that agreed with Oxfam's negative stance on biofuels:
At the New York Times' Green blog, Justin Gillis posted an article, World Food Supply: What's To Be Done?, that mentions Oxfam's recent report on food prices:
Oxfam, the global relief group, recently published an analysis of the food situation and the risks in coming decades. The themes echo many of my own findings and those of the Beddington report, but the Oxfam report has a sharper tone on certain issues, particularly relating to the behavior of corporations, investors and governments in rich countries. Raymond C. Offenheiser, head of Oxfam’s American branch, was recently on the radio talking about these issues. One of the major conclusions of the Oxfam report is that food prices could easily double from today’s high levels by 2030, with climate change likely to be responsible for a major part of that increase.
As I reported in my article, the governments of the developed world have acknowledged a need to invest anew in global agricultural development, but have been slow to fulfill the $22 billion of pledges they made on this issue in 2009 in L’Aquila, Italy. Numerous advocacy groups are attempting to track the status of the pledges. The latest accounting on this issue by the Group of 8 governments themselves was made public a few weeks ago in a document called the Deauville Accountability Report.
However, the watchdog groups have attacked that document, saying that it obfuscates the slow pace of spending by the governments. A group called ActionAid has published a detailed analysis, coming to the conclusion that, two years into a three-year set of pledges, the governments have actually spent only 22 percent of the pledged amount. Oxfam also discusses the status of the pledges in one section of a broader report.
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