The food crisis, aggravated by the
use of corn and other grains in ethanol production,
was one of the central issues discussed May 17-18 in
the Mexican capital by deputy ministers of
agriculture from the G-20 industrialized and
problem’s impact on humanity is analyzed in the
report Biofueling Hunger: how U.S. corn ethanol
policy is increasing food prices in Mexico,
presented May 16 and sponsored by the U.S. office of
Timothy Wise, director of the
Research and Policy Program at the Global
Development and Environment Institute attached to
Tufts University, told IPS that there have been very
steep price rises (of food) since the end of 2000,
repeated in 2007 and again in 2010 and 2011.
Wise, co-author of the report,
stated that this coincided with ethanol expansion in
the United States. What can be seen in Mexico is an
increase in the price of corn tortillas, the
country’s traditional food, the price of which has
risen 60% since 2005.
Wise and co-author Marie Brill,
Action Aid policy director, confirmed that, since
2005, Mexico has lost $250-500 million a year by
importing the grain, due to high prices on the
The 24-page report concludes that
the expansion of biofuels is contributing to food
insecurity in Mexico. Price increases associated
with ethanol are negatively affecting consumers,
especially those who lack food security and are not
According to the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, last year 53,302 million liters of corn
ethanol was consumed in the country, with 40% of
corn harvests directed to its production.
The United States, the largest
producer and exporter of corn in the world,
implements a tariff protection policy in favor of
national biofuels, and gives producers subsidies and
a mandate to mix gasoline with up to 10% ethanol.
Brill stated that the G-20 has to
solve the food crisis. The 2011 summit addressed the
situation, but it has to ignite the engines first.
Mexico is an example of what is happening in other
The leaders of the G-20, currently
presided by Mexico, are to meet from June 18-19 in
the northwestern city of Los Cabos to draw up
policies to resolve the economic-financial crisis
affecting the North, food security, green growth and
combating climate change.
This bloc unites the industrialized
countries of the G-8 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy,
Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United
States) with the European Union as such and emerging
economies such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil,
China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico, Saudi
Arabia, South Africa and Turkey.
THE TROUBLES OF CORN
The planting of corn destined for
biofuels began in the region in the mid-20th century
and experienced a boom in the 1970s, when Latin
American countries took off as suppliers of raw
materials for the markets of industrialized nations
and in response to the first major oil crisis.
In recent years, the development of
certain mono-cultivations has mutated toward
providing raw materials for the manufacture of fuels.
The expansion of agricultural products to this end
is also the result of the depletion of oil as an
energy source and carbon dioxide contamination from
the use of hydrocarbons, leading to global warming.
Corn is loaded with a symbolic power
from Mexico to Nicaragua. The increase in channeling
this grain into ethanol production is extremely
strong, driven by high oil prices, Wise stated.