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Bio-Fuels causing riots worldwide over food shortages

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  • Susan Modikoane
    From http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/03/AR2008040304054.html Rising Grain Prices Panic
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 8, 2008
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      Rising Grain Prices Panic Developing World

      A man warms milk next to his shop in Islamabad, above. Milk prices are up in Pakistan.
      A man warms milk next to his shop in Islamabad, above. Milk prices are up in Pakistan. (By EmiIio Morenatti -- Associated Press)

      COMMENT

      washingtonpost.com readers have posted 14 comments about this item.
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      Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

      Who's Blogging

      Washington Post Foreign Service
      Friday, April 4, 2008; Page D01
      SHANGHAI -- A spike in the price of rice and other food staples is triggering consumer panic, including food riots in Yemen and Morocco, and hoarding in Hong Kong.
      Governments around the world have taken radical measures in recent weeks to control their countries' supplies of rice. Egypt last week said it would ban all rice exports for six months. Cambodia has stopped all private-sector exports of rice, and India and Vietnam also have imposed restrictions.
      The price of grains -- corn, wheat, and rice -- has been rising since 2005 under pressure from farmers who would rather plant crops for biofuels than for food, the lack of technological breakthroughs in crop yields, and drought and disease. The sharpest increase has been this year, with the price of Thai rice, a world benchmark, nearly doubling since January, to $760 per metric ton. Some analysts expect that price to reach $1,000 in the next three months.
      Tang Min, a former chief economist for the Asian Development Bank, said the price increase is the inevitable consequence of supply and demand. "The world population is increasing, but the increase in the planting of rice has not been as fast," he said.
      Despite efforts by governments to increase public-sector wages and introduce food subsidies, price increases and shortages have led to violent clashes along supply lines, in food distribution centers and at supermarkets.
      "Rice shortages and unrest are not necessarily linked, until you think about the poor. Rice is of high importance in these people's daily lives," said Tang, deputy secretary general for the China Development Research Foundation, a Beijing-based research group.
      Nowhere is that more true than in Asia, where a meal isn't a meal without rice.
      Wang Qing, an economist for Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong, said U.S. laws encouraging the development of biofuels are the origin of the problem in Asia and elsewhere. This "directly led to the reduction of foodstuff planting," he said. "Without the oil price increasing substantially, the corn price will not increase. Without corn prices increasing quickly, the rice price will not rise."
      To encourage farmers to go back to planting food, China, Indonesia and other countries are increasing their minimum compensation to farmers who grow grains for human consumption.
      But as food-growing countries move to increase production and curb exports, they are under pressure from rice-importing neighbors seeking their help. Bangladesh has announced that it will import 400,000 tons of rice and sell it below cost. The Philippines, where demonstrators have taken to the streets to criticize the government for not doing enough to control inflation, is appealing to other countries for emergency supplies.
      Cambodian Finance Minister Keat Chhon last week called for people to be calm. He urged them "not to stock up on foods, which could make the situation even harder."
      Some experts say that building reserves to protect against future shortages only makes the problem worse.
       
      "Of course, if every country, or individual consumer, acts the same way, the hoarding causes a panic and extreme shortage in markets, leading to rapidly rising prices," said Peter Timmer, a visiting professor at Stanford University's program on food security and the environment.
      For example, he said, "the newly elected populist government in Thailand did not want consumer prices for rice to go up, so they started talking about export restrictions from Thailand, the world's largest rice exporter. . . . So last Friday, rice prices in Thailand jumped $75 per metric ton. This is the stuff of panics."
      "Rice is a political crop, and the goal of most governments is to stabilize the rice price. And in stabilizing the rice price, you result in shifting the fluctuations into the world market," said Randolph Barker, head of the social sciences division of the International Rice Research Institute, near Manila.
      The battle against food inflation has been as much psychological as practical.
      In the Middle Eastern states of Bahrain, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, workers have mounted demonstrations out of frustration that their purchasing power has diminished. In Morocco, state media reported that dozens of people have been sentenced to prison for rioting, and in Yemen at least a dozen people have been killed since late last year in clashes related to food prices.
      In China, the government is concerned that inflation -- which contributed to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests -- is already leading to worrisome incidents. In August 2007, a supermarket in the inland city of Chengdu decreased the price of an egg from more than 4 yuan to 3.2 yuan -- about 46 cents -- to entice shoppers. Thousands of people showed up at the front door, and four were injured during what the domestic media called "scare buying."
      In October, a Shanghai-based chain supermarket put five-liter bottles of cooking oil up for sale at the discount price of 30.8 yuan -- $4.39, about $2.85 lower than the usual price. Five minutes after the store opened, 19 people were hurt in the rush to buy.
      In Hong Kong last weekend, store shelves were stripped bare of rice on rumors that its price would increase further. Hong Kong's Consumer Council told shoppers that they were overreacting even as the territory's Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades said restaurants may immediately increase prices for a bowl of steamed rice by one to two Hong Kong dollars, or 20 to 40 percent.
      The jump in food prices has had a much bigger effect on developing countries than in developed ones like the United States because food accounts for a much larger percentage of overall consumption. In China, it is almost 30 percent, while in Vietnam it is 40 percent and in India 50 percent. In the United States, it is closer to 7 percent.
      To calm increasingly concerned Chinese consumers -- for whom prices rose 8.7 percent in February from a year earlier, the biggest increase in 12 years -- the government froze the prices of some grains, meat and eggs. Premier Wen Jiabao announced this week that China is largely self-sufficient in rice production and has stockpiled 40 to 50 million tons of rice.
      The Chinese government also has run picture after picture in local newspapers of its "strategic reserves" of frozen meat, sacks of grain and barrels of cooking oil.
      That is of little comfort to Jiang Caijun, 35, whose food costs have soared to the point where he can no longer buy anything within the city limits of Shanghai, where he lives. Jiang, who runs a shop in a shack in which he makes copies of keys and repairs bicycles, said he must travel for several hours into the countryside to buy his family's food.
      The worst part, Jiang said, is the feeling that because of inflation he has no control over whether he can make ends meet: "I can do nothing about this."
      Tan Qingning, 37, who works at a pharmaceutical factory in Guangxi province in southern China, said that in the past he and his wife were able to save some money, but that today they can barely meet expenses. Even a few months ago, they ate rice noodles for breakfast at a restaurant every day. Now, because the price of noodles has gone up by a third, they must boil cheaper ones at home -- saving a meager but much-needed 14 cents a day.
      "We work as hard as before, but we gain much less," Tan said.
      Researcher Crissie Ding contributed to this report.


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    • Bashir Syed
      Susan the cause of the following news is the presence of U.S. forces, who got at least four Air-Bases in Baluchistan [please refer to page 12 - Military
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 8, 2008
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        Susan the cause of the following news is the presence of U.S. forces, who got at least four Air-Bases in Baluchistan [please refer to page 12 - Military Strategy in PETROLISTAN - A Dangerous World, published in The Houston Environmental Directory 2007 or at website: www.environmentaldirectory.info ]
        Pakistan government run by military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf was demanded Petrol/Gasoline produced by local refineries, and foods for the survival of these troops and those of NATO in Afghanistan, ordered on September 12, 2001. The burden of feeding 24,000 troops, and providing 575,000 gallons of fuel per day in Afghanistan (produced by Pakistani Oil Refineries) has caused a great strain on not only the economy of Pakistan but also greatly diminished the production of Electricity (as most of the fuel is being used by US and NATO troops, and many utility companies have been shut down for lack of fuel), causing Blackpouts (lasting more than 8 hours every days). And when such opportunity goes in the hands of gteedy politicians who want to sucjk every dollat from U.S. Military at the cost of hurting their own people, it does not hurt their conscience.
         
        Bashir A. Syed
        Source: Robert Bryce, Friday, November 2007. Mr. Bryce is the managing editor of "Energy Tribune," and author of his third book , "Gusher of :ies: The Dangerous Delusion of Energy Indepence," published in March by Public Affairs.
         
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 8:36 AM
        Subject: [hreg] Bio-Fuels causing riots worldwide over food shortages

         
         

        Rising Grain Prices Panic Developing World

        A man warms milk next to his shop in Islamabad, above. Milk prices are up in Pakistan.
        A man warms milk next to his shop in Islamabad, above. Milk prices are up in Pakistan. (By EmiIio Morenatti -- Associated Press)

        COMMENT

        washingtonpost. com readers have posted 14 comments about this item.
        View All Comments »
        Discussion Policy
        Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

        Who's Blogging

        Washington Post Foreign Service
        Friday, April 4, 2008; Page D01
        SHANGHAI -- A spike in the price of rice and other food staples is triggering consumer panic, including food riots in Yemen and Morocco, and hoarding in Hong Kong.
        Governments around the world have taken radical measures in recent weeks to control their countries' supplies of rice. Egypt last week said it would ban all rice exports for six months. Cambodia has stopped all private-sector exports of rice, and India and Vietnam also have imposed restrictions.
        The price of grains -- corn, wheat, and rice -- has been rising since 2005 under pressure from farmers who would rather plant crops for biofuels than for food, the lack of technological breakthroughs in crop yields, and drought and disease. The sharpest increase has been this year, with the price of Thai rice, a world benchmark, nearly doubling since January, to $760 per metric ton. Some analysts expect that price to reach $1,000 in the next three months.
        Tang Min, a former chief economist for the Asian Development Bank, said the price increase is the inevitable consequence of supply and demand. "The world population is increasing, but the increase in the planting of rice has not been as fast," he said.
        Despite efforts by governments to increase public-sector wages and introduce food subsidies, price increases and shortages have led to violent clashes along supply lines, in food distribution centers and at supermarkets.
        "Rice shortages and unrest are not necessarily linked, until you think about the poor. Rice is of high importance in these people's daily lives," said Tang, deputy secretary general for the China Development Research Foundation, a Beijing-based research group.
        Nowhere is that more true than in Asia, where a meal isn't a meal without rice.
        Wang Qing, an economist for Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong, said U.S. laws encouraging the development of biofuels are the origin of the problem in Asia and elsewhere. This "directly led to the reduction of foodstuff planting," he said. "Without the oil price increasing substantially, the corn price will not increase. Without corn prices increasing quickly, the rice price will not rise."
        To encourage farmers to go back to planting food, China, Indonesia and other countries are increasing their minimum compensation to farmers who grow grains for human consumption.
        But as food-growing countries move to increase production and curb exports, they are under pressure from rice-importing neighbors seeking their help. Bangladesh has announced that it will import 400,000 tons of rice and sell it below cost. The Philippines, where demonstrators have taken to the streets to criticize the government for not doing enough to control inflation, is appealing to other countries for emergency supplies.
        Cambodian Finance Minister Keat Chhon last week called for people to be calm. He urged them "not to stock up on foods, which could make the situation even harder."
        Some experts say that building reserves to protect against future shortages only makes the problem worse.
         
        "Of course, if every country, or individual consumer, acts the same way, the hoarding causes a panic and extreme shortage in markets, leading to rapidly rising prices," said Peter Timmer, a visiting professor at Stanford University's program on food security and the environment.
        For example, he said, "the newly elected populist government in Thailand did not want consumer prices for rice to go up, so they started talking about export restrictions from Thailand, the world's largest rice exporter. . . . So last Friday, rice prices in Thailand jumped $75 per metric ton. This is the stuff of panics."
        "Rice is a political crop, and the goal of most governments is to stabilize the rice price. And in stabilizing the rice price, you result in shifting the fluctuations into the world market," said Randolph Barker, head of the social sciences division of the International Rice Research Institute, near Manila.
        The battle against food inflation has been as much psychological as practical.
        In the Middle Eastern states of Bahrain, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, workers have mounted demonstrations out of frustration that their purchasing power has diminished. In Morocco, state media reported that dozens of people have been sentenced to prison for rioting, and in Yemen at least a dozen people have been killed since late last year in clashes related to food prices.
        In China, the government is concerned that inflation -- which contributed to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests -- is already leading to worrisome incidents. In August 2007, a supermarket in the inland city of Chengdu decreased the price of an egg from more than 4 yuan to 3.2 yuan -- about 46 cents -- to entice shoppers. Thousands of people showed up at the front door, and four were injured during what the domestic media called "scare buying."
        In October, a Shanghai-based chain supermarket put five-liter bottles of cooking oil up for sale at the discount price of 30.8 yuan -- $4.39, about $2.85 lower than the usual price. Five minutes after the store opened, 19 people were hurt in the rush to buy.
        In Hong Kong last weekend, store shelves were stripped bare of rice on rumors that its price would increase further. Hong Kong's Consumer Council told shoppers that they were overreacting even as the territory's Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades said restaurants may immediately increase prices for a bowl of steamed rice by one to two Hong Kong dollars, or 20 to 40 percent.
        The jump in food prices has had a much bigger effect on developing countries than in developed ones like the United States because food accounts for a much larger percentage of overall consumption. In China, it is almost 30 percent, while in Vietnam it is 40 percent and in India 50 percent. In the United States, it is closer to 7 percent.
        To calm increasingly concerned Chinese consumers -- for whom prices rose 8.7 percent in February from a year earlier, the biggest increase in 12 years -- the government froze the prices of some grains, meat and eggs. Premier Wen Jiabao announced this week that China is largely self-sufficient in rice production and has stockpiled 40 to 50 million tons of rice.
        The Chinese government also has run picture after picture in local newspapers of its "strategic reserves" of frozen meat, sacks of grain and barrels of cooking oil.
        That is of little comfort to Jiang Caijun, 35, whose food costs have soared to the point where he can no longer buy anything within the city limits of Shanghai, where he lives. Jiang, who runs a shop in a shack in which he makes copies of keys and repairs bicycles, said he must travel for several hours into the countryside to buy his family's food.
        The worst part, Jiang said, is the feeling that because of inflation he has no control over whether he can make ends meet: "I can do nothing about this."
        Tan Qingning, 37, who works at a pharmaceutical factory in Guangxi province in southern China, said that in the past he and his wife were able to save some money, but that today they can barely meet expenses. Even a few months ago, they ate rice noodles for breakfast at a restaurant every day. Now, because the price of noodles has gone up by a third, they must boil cheaper ones at home -- saving a meager but much-needed 14 cents a day.
        "We work as hard as before, but we gain much less," Tan said.
        Researcher Crissie Ding contributed to this report.


        You rock. That's why Blockbuster' s offering you one month of Blockbuster Total Access, No Cost.

      • ajthomann@pol.net
        Yes, but... It s not just prices.  Simply put, too many people and not enough food.  The is no shining example to the world.  I wrote the following about 2
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 8, 2008
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          Yes, but... It's not just
          prices.  Simply put, too many people and not enough food.  The
           is no 
          shining example to the world.  I wrote the following about 2 years ago in a different context, but I
          think it's relevant here and now since I personally can't surgically separate 'fossil' fuels vs renewable
          energy, from the issues of overpopulation, climate, and water and cropland losses.
          ---------------------------------------- 

           

          
          

          CONNECT THE DOTS: WHY THE IMMIGRANT PROBLEM?
          
          

          In 1798, the Rev. Robert Thomas
          Malthus was wrong.  He predicted mass
          starvation when the 
          world's population exceeded what the world could feed.  He was wrong because he had limited
          data, and no crystal ball.  He was wrong as to when and how the catastrophe would arrive.
          
          


          We have better data now.  Earth's sustainable "carrying capacity" for human beings is between
          3-4 billion.  But current world population is well over 6 billion, and growing fast.
          
          


          The Biblical book of Genesis (
          1:28) ordered "be fruitful, and multiply; fill the earth, and subdue it".  
          Well, the Earth has been filled.  Why has that order not yet been rescinded? T
          he reasons (for
          many in what we now call the Evangelical Christian right) relate to ideas embodied in two Papal
          Encyclicals: "Casti Connubii" (1930) and "Humanae Vitae" (1968).  The latter was questioned as
          soon as it had been promulgated because it was known then that worldwide, upwards of 3 million
          people would continue to starve every year.  Someone calculated in 1968 that the two Encyclicals
          doomed 20 million Catholic babies to be conceived and born by the year 2000, for the sole purpose
          of starving to death.


          
          

          Many other Catholic babies did
          not starve.  They lived on, and continue
          to overfill the Earth.  Many 
          of them are now in
          and Central America , and they struggle to feed the next generations. 
          Millions of them have entered the
          illegally as they struggle to feed their families.

           

          Population control was at one
          time perceived by some in 
          Latin America 
           as a plot to enslave their 
          nations by keeping them underpopulated while Americans and Europeans steal their resources. 
          We may have come full circle.  The current Bap-tholic government of our nation is denying much
          of the rest of the world the resources that might enable them to get their population growth under
          control.
          If our government continues to
          allow the Earth to be increasingly overfilled, they are simply 
          aggravating the illegal immigration problem for many decades to come. Fences and armed guards
          will not hold back the hungry millions.  Just as water finds weak spots in levees, so too the
          desperate will find (or create) cracks and crevices along the border.

           

          
          

           

          The time has come for our
          leaders to abandon unrealistic "convictions" and "beliefs", and
          start 
          using reason and science as the basis for their decisions.  I hope they do so very soon, before
          human overconsumption of fossil fuels and potable water ruins our atmosphere, oceans and
          vanishing arable lands beyond the point of no return.

           


          ----------------------------------------
          Ariel
          - We are all Human beings here together. We have to help one another, since otherwise there is NO ONE who will help.
          - All countries need NO REGRETS strategic policies regarding every non-renewable resource, including water.
          - Plan ahead seven generations -- reduce all your consumption, and eliminate waste.

          ----------------------------------------

          On Tue, April 8, 2008 08:36 CDT, Susan Modikoane wrote:

           
        • evelyn sardina
          It is not just the religious people or the poor having all the babies. Women now wait later to have children. They go to school to be educated and have good
          Message 4 of 4 , Apr 13, 2008
          • 0 Attachment
            It is not just the religious people or the poor having all the babies. Women now wait later to have children. They go to school to be educated  and have good jobs so they can be independent. By having babies too late in life and needing fertility pills to concieve.... we are facing an exponential problem that was not taken into consideration before. Women are having three or more children in one pregnacy and this is a major issue. How do you tell a couple that wants children that they can't use these drugs? These are usually educated people that have jobs. I recently saw a program on a couple that had twins and went for one more and instead they got 4 in one pregnacy. They now have 6 children. The thing is that this happens often. The parents are overwhelmed with child care and expenses and the world will be overwhemed when these children grow and need cars, homes and food. Angelina Jolie is trying to set an example by adopting but majority of people just want their own children. What a mess!!!!!!!

            "ajthomann@..." <ajthomann@...> wrote:
            Yes, but... It's not just  prices.  Simply put, too many people and not enough food.  The   is no 
            shining example to the world.  I wrote the following about 2 years ago in a different context, but I
            think it's relevant here and now since I personally can't surgically separate 'fossil' fuels vs renewable
            energy, from the issues of overpopulation, climate, and water and cropland losses.
            ------------ --------- --------- --------- - 
             
              
            CONNECT THE DOTS: WHY THE IMMIGRANT PROBLEM?
              
            In 1798, the Rev. Robert Thomas  Malthus was wrong.  He predicted mass  starvation when the 
            world's population exceeded what the world could feed.  He was wrong because he had limited
            data, and no crystal ball.  He was wrong as to when and how the catastrophe would arrive.
              

            We have better data now.  Earth's sustainable "carrying capacity" for human beings is between
            3-4 billion.  But current world population is well over 6 billion, and growing fast.
              

            The Biblical book of Genesis (
            1:28) ordered "be fruitful, and multiply; fill the earth, and subdue it".  
            Well, the Earth has been filled.  Why has that order not yet been rescinded? T
            he reasons (for
            many in what we now call the Evangelical Christian right) relate to ideas embodied in two Papal
            Encyclicals: "Casti Connubii" (1930) and "Humanae Vitae" (1968).  The latter was questioned as
            soon as it had been promulgated because it was known then that worldwide, upwards of 3 million
            people would continue to starve every year.  Someone calculated in 1968 that the two Encyclicals
            doomed 20 million Catholic babies to be conceived and born by the year 2000, for the sole purpose
            of starving to death.


              
            Many other Catholic babies did  not starve.  They lived on, and continue  to overfill the Earth.  Many 
            of them are now in
            and Central America , and they struggle to feed the next generations. 
            Millions of them have entered the
            illegally as they struggle to feed their families.
             
            Population control was at one  time perceived by some in   Latin America   as a plot to enslave their 
            nations by keeping them underpopulated while Americans and Europeans steal their resources. 
            We may have come full circle.  The current Bap-tholic government of our nation is denying much
            of the rest of the world the resources that might enable them to get their population growth under
            control.
            If our government continues to  allow the Earth to be increasingly overfilled, they are simply 
            aggravating the illegal immigration problem for many decades to come. Fences and armed guards
            will not hold back the hungry millions.  Just as water finds weak spots in levees, so too the
            desperate will find (or create) cracks and crevices along the border.
             
              
             
            The time has come for our  leaders to abandon unrealistic "convictions" and "beliefs", and  start 
            using reason and science as the basis for their decisions.  I hope they do so very soon, before
            human overconsumption of fossil fuels and potable water ruins our atmosphere, oceans and
            vanishing arable lands beyond the point of no return.
             

            ------------ --------- --------- --------- -
            Ariel
            - We are all Human beings here together. We have to help one another, since otherwise there is NO ONE who will help.
            - All countries need NO REGRETS strategic policies regarding every non-renewable resource, including water.
            - Plan ahead seven generations -- reduce all your consumption, and eliminate waste.

            ------------ --------- --------- --------- -

            On Tue, April 8, 2008 08:36 CDT, Susan Modikoane wrote:

             

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