it was apparent from the beginning that using corn as a feedstock for ethanol was a bad idea. with a global food crisis happening, it is becoming apparent how bad. that and agriculture protectionism / subsidies. from an article in the washington post yesterday:
The food price shock now roiling world markets is destabilizing governments, igniting street riots and threatening to send a new wave of hunger rippling through the world’s
poorest nations. It is outpacing even the Soviet grain emergency of 1972-75, when world food prices rose 78 percent. By comparison, from the beginning of 2005 to early 2008, prices leapt 80 percent, according to the United Nations‘ Food and Agriculture Organization.
Much of the increase is being absorbed by middle men — distributors, processors, even governments — but consumers worldwide are still feeling the pinch.
“If you didn’t have ethanol, you would not have the prices we have today,” said Bruce Babcock, a professor of economics and the director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University.
“It doesn’t mean it’s the sole driver. Prices would be higher than we saw earlier in this decade because world grain supplies are tighter now than earlier in the decade. But we’ve introduced a new demand into the market.”