Food Or Fuel–We May Not Be Able To Afford Both

Food prices throughout the world are rising, arable land is increasingly converted into crops that can be converted to fuel and forests are continuing their decline. At some point in the coming years, the world may be forced to make a dramatic choice — are crops designed to feed people or to fuel people? Dietrich Driftmann, a German business man recently examined a simple box of multigrain flakes and realized the price of rye has risen 55%, barly has gone up by 70% and wheat by 90% as farmers increasingly convert their fields of food into fields of fuel. Driftmann is CEO of Kolin-Werke, Germany’s top producer of ooats and a major player in the meusli market, but these days he is also engaged in a fierce competition with oil interests for the same natural resources.

For decades, agricultural companies have been able to assure consumers of stable prices, but that era is fast disappearing due to competition for the same products with oil corporations. There is evidence in virtually every nation supermarkets are raising prices on the basic necesities of our lives. Post World War II enjoyed the benefits of an agricultural revolution able to provide fairly inexpensive food throughout the world. We may be witnessing the end of an era. The real issue may transcend prices, it may eventually come down to a more complex choice — food or fuel? How will people react to that choice? Does the choice mean something different for humans who don’t posses cars? Demand is outstripping available arable land. The world’s food system is close to confronting a test that entails the future of humankind.

  • Victoria John

    The US has many miles of public highways with grassy medians. The exhaust fumes etc. make them unusable for food crops, but ideal for wild grasses that have been found to resist drought and insect while offering better fuel oil yields than cultivated grain crops. The land could be leased to producers, saving the government the maintenance costs and generating additional funds for highway maintenance…just a thought :)

  • Fred Stopsky