Ethanol Mandate Exacerbates World Hunger

July 8, 2015

Nine billion people. Our global population is predicted to rise from seven to nine billion people by 2040. Imagine trying to feed an additional two billion people when there are 800 million people around the world—right now—who go malnourished every day.

From the BP oil spill to the global food crisis, 20-year veteran environmental reporter and author Joel K. Bourne Jr., tackles government policies that mandate biofuel production in his new book. He argues policies, like the United States’ Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), contribute to world hunger. The RFS takes agricultural resources that could be used for food and diverts them to corn ethanol to fuel cars.

“We’re taking 40 percent of the United States corn crop and feeding it to our cars. That represents enough corn to feed everyone in Africa for a year!” Bourne told National Geographic recently.  

The link between increases in biofuel production and increases in the price of food commodities is well researched and documented by organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, ActionAid, World Resources Institute, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and The World Bank.

In fact, a 2012 ActionAid study found that developing nations paid more than half of the $11.6 billion in inflated corn prices caused by the U.S.’ expansion of the RFS. Those increases in cost are passed onto the poor and starving people of these developing countries who already spend 60-80 percent of their income on food.

ActionAid came to a decisive conclusion about government biofuel mandates: they “undermine food security and fuel hunger around the world.” That’s why ActionAid, and other anti-hunger advocacy groups, like Oxfam, have gone on the record against the RFS and biofuel mandates.

“No matter how much food we grow, the poor and hungry of the world are going to have to compete with big biofuel,” said Bourne.

If we’re going to do our part to solve world hunger, we must stand with anti-hunger groups against biofuel mandates that exacerbate world hunger. Tell your member of Congress to repeal or reform the RFS.