More And More Plants Turned Into Biofuel
The cassava root is one of the most popular ingredients in the world, as it has been used on numerous types of foods.
It is used in the tapioca budding, in ice cream; some of it is turned into paper, and the livestock are often fed with it as well. However, according to an article in nytimes.com, things might change. In the past year, 98 percent of the cassava roots from Thailand, which is one of the largest exporters of this plant, were exported to other countries. However, the roots weren’t used in order to create various types of foods, but in order to create biofuel. The destination: China, one of the biggest users of biofuel in the world. Sure, protecting the environment is great, and the Chinese used the roots for a good purpose. However, the massive cassava roots importation has led to unwanted consequences. Since the cassava roots are in very high demand, their prices have doubled. The ships which transport the cassava roots have multiplied as well, increasing fourfold since last year. This could lead to very bad things, according to the researchers.
The problem is that the cassava root is not the only of its kind to have this fate. Corn, sugar, and palm oil are used for the same purpose more and more: to be turned into biofuels. The developed countries are the ones which purchase these new types of fuels, as they have to. They need to make certain changes and adjustments to the increasing number of cars and industries which are developed. These countries can no longer manage on fossil fuels alone, so they need to find a solution. The exporters of these plants are satisfied as well. Since they know that their products are in high demand, they can increase the prices. It’s a win-win situation, or at least for them it is. The rich countries get what they need, and the developing countries receive a great deal of money for their products. However, no one considered the fact that the people from these developing countries are placed in a disadvantage, as they have to pay more for their foods.
The food prices have increased a lot in the recent period of time, and the experts have stated that this situation should stop. They have stated that the developed countries should stop buying very large supplies of these products because they could cause high prices, political instability, and hunger. It seems that the actions taken by the developed countries are done just for the benefit of the environment, but in reality things are different. They have resorted to these types of fuels because they are cheaper. Things are done in the interest of the country which purchases these products. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization stated this year that the food prices, according to its index, were the highest in more than two decades. Between October 2010 and January 2011, prices rose 15 percent, something which never happened before. The World Bank said that because of this increase, more than 44 million people might have been put into poverty.
People from countries such as Algeria, Bangladesh, and Egypt have started riots and protests as a reaction to the increased food prices. In these countries the palm oil is one of the most common types of ingredients used in food, and its price has increased. It is believed that the riots will continue unless something is done about it. These countries are in a very difficult position, as their citizens lead a daily struggle against hunger and against poverty. The palm oil is not the only one which got more expensive. In the United States of America for example, the price of the corn rose increased as well. In six months, it saw a 73 percent increase, and according to the United Nations World Food Program, the increase is because of the fact that the country used the corn rose for biofuels.
Timothy D. Searchinger, a research scholar at Princeton University, who is an expert in the topic, said that the situation is getting worse and worse with each passing month. These ingredients and types of foods, which are essential for survival for the people from the developing countries, are used as fuel in countries from Europe, Asia, and North America. These people can not afford paying the increased prices for them. It seems that the situation will get even worse, as the governments of the developed countries have stated that the usage of biofuel should increase in the future. In the United States of America, 36 billion gallons of biofuels must be used on a yearly basis by 2022. In Europe, a 10 percent increase of the biofuels is expected as well. The food prices do not depend entirely on this factor, but they depend on other factors as well. For example the weather can influence the prices of the food; if it is bad, and the crops are reduced, then the prices will get bigger. If the fuel price rises, the prices of the food will rise as well.
Olivier Dubois, a bioenergy expert at the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, said that the biofuels have caused an increase in the food prices, but it is unknown to what extent. He said that the matter will need to be researched thoroughly in the future, in order to determine the exact manner in which the biofuels affect these prices. Mr. Dubois said that it will be impossible to stop the production of the biofuels. However, he said that certain rules and regulations should be made. For example, when the prices get too high, and when these products are in small supply, the production of the biofuels should be halted, until the balance is restored again. This is the only way in which things could work.11