Starchy cassava roots are the latest crop to be used for renewable energy—and consumers are facing steeper prices
According to today's New York Times, cassava is the new "go to" crop to burn for fuel. Doing this, of course, makes cassava more expensive than what people can afford:
It can be tricky predicting how new demand from the biofuel sector will affect the supply and price of food. Sometimes, as with corn or cassava, direct competition between purchasers drives up the prices of biofuel ingredients. In other instances, shortages and price inflation occur because farmers who formerly grew crops like vegetables for consumption plant different crops that can be used for fuel.
The Times graph of the increase in use of food for biofuel is sobering:
The rise in food prices has stopped temporarily, but prices are still an astonishing 37 percent higher than a year ago, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.
None of this makes sense to me. We need a sensible food policy and a sensible energy policy.
This post also appears on Food Politics.
Image: Jorge Silva/Reuters