Food for Oil

Consultants like to tell their audience, "In Chinese, the character for crisis is the same as opportunity."

In the English dictionary, however, crisis is defined as "a point in a story or drama when a conflict reaches its highest tension and must be resolved."

While the Developed World frets over the current multi-nodal RealEstateSubPrimeFinancialMarketTradeDeficit crisis--which continues to suck the value out of most of America's larger financial assets--the rest of the developing world is again struggling to afford the basics, namely, food.

In this case, the Cyrilla [oil supply] and Charybdis [demand for crops] have the same source: the global race for energy.

Time's recent article, titled The Clean Energy Scam, desn't throw a monkey wrench into the machine behind biofuels as much as it points a finger at the rising world food costs and slash-n-burn behavior it has inspired in the Amazon.

A rebuttal from 25x25, a non-profit supported financially by the Energy Future Coalition, laments, "Unfortunately, the story's message of concern is undermined by misinformation about biofuels and an over-simplified analysis of complex systems."

The main law of complex systems remains: Small changes can have large, unpredictable effects.

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Food riots which have struck several impoverished countries could spread with shortages and high prices set to continue for some time, the head of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.


A combination of high oil and fuel prices, rising demand for food in a wealthier Asia, the use of farmland and crops for biofuels, bad weather and speculation on futures markets have pushed up food prices, prompting violent protests in a handful of poor states.

Jacques Diouf, director general of the Rome-based FAO, said on Wednesday during a trip to India that there was a growing risk of social instability in countries where families spent more than half their income on food.

"This is due to higher demand from countries like India, China, where GDP grows at 8-10 percent and the increase in income is going to food," Diouf said after meeting India's farm minister, Sharad Pawar.