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Has Merkel lost her mind?


G

Gadjodilo

By and large, I like Angela Merkel but it does seem a little bizarre to blame Indians - having the audacity to now eat two meals a day - for world food shortages! If this is true, surely is it not something to be welcomed that that country's economic boom has improved food security for so many of its people?

At the very least, her choice of words is grossly insensitive.

Bad policy, not biofuel, drive food prices - Merkel

BERLIN (Reuters) - Bad agricultural policies and changing eating habits in developing nations are primarily to blame for rising food prices, not biofuel production as some critics claim, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.

Environmentalists and humanitarian groups have stepped up campaigning against biofuels, arguing they divert production away from food and animal feed while contributing to sharp rises in the price of cereals and milk products.

But Merkel, whose country is Europe's largest biofuel producer, said the rise in food prices was not mainly due to biofuels but to "inadequate agricultural policies in developing countries" as well as "insufficient forecasts of changes in nutritional habits" in emerging markets.

"If you travel to India these days, then a main part of the debate is about the 'second meal'," Merkel said.

"People are eating twice a day, and if a third of one billion people in India do that, it adds up to 300 million people.
That's a large part of the European Union," she said.

"And if they suddenly consume twice as much food as before and if 100 million Chinese start drinking milk too, then of course our milk quotas become skewed, and much else too," she said referring to EU limits on dairy production.

Biofuels, which are seen by supporters as a way to increase energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, are made mainly from food crops such as grains, oilseeds and sugar.

Critics argue there are few, if any, environmental benefits for so-called first generation biofuels. They have also been blamed for increasing grain demand and pushing up prices at a time of growing threat of famine in some parts of the world.

The FAO and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have said biofuels were "one of the main drivers" for forecasts of food price increases of 20 percent to 50 percent by 2016.

Source:
http://africa.reuters.com/business/news/usnBAN755192.html
 

louis bernard

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God forbid what will happen if they all take up going to the pub and visiting the chipper on the way home. We would have to colonise Mars to grow enough potatoes.
 

geraghd

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I doubt she is suggesting that the Indians should eat less and the Chinese should simply drink less milk...
 

A_man_about_a_dog

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I'd say Merkel was simply making the point that unrestricted population growth in countries such as India has done little to help the situation regarding world food shortages.

IMO she was not 'blaming' the Indians per se, merely making an observation.
 

Thac0man

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The Biofuel causes world hunger argument is bullsh*t in the extreme.

Australia is undergoing a massive drought, Zimbabwe which was Africas bread basket, has ceased all prodcution and rice reserves world wide were halved in 2000 due to a dramatic rise in comsumption. Most of that was in play long before the 'Biofuels causes hunger' argument was dreamed up by OPEC and its allies. That argument only became fashoinable once America signed a deal with Brazil to buy corn for Bio-ethenol production. Rice is not used to make Biofuel.

A good article here about the failing rice crops which has a knock on effect worldwide in other food areas:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/17/business/worldbusiness/17warm.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

As for Merkels claim that bad agricultural policies in developing countries are also to blame, she is right. Countries like China do not have efficient large scale argiculture production but still rely (as do most other developing nations) on small holders using traditional and often manual methods of production. Agriculture is a sector that is way behind in the rush to develop the urban economies and thus nations are now deeply vunerable.

Vaste tracts of land worldwide are in private ownership and unproductive. But equally as much land is sitting idle or being used unproductivly. There is no simple solution. If the land I just mentioned is put to efficient use (unlike Zimbabwe), the amount of nitrates introduced into the environment sky rockets, even if the political obsticles in the way were removed and the political will was there. To avoid or lessen the impact of nitrates GM options might have to examined. Any solution is complex and hence many choose to defer to the Biofuels argument, because by the time they are proved wrong it will be too late to do anything - but at least they are getting attention and able to use it to promote some other cause.
 
G

Gadjodilo

geraghd said:
I doubt she is suggesting that the Indians should eat less and the Chinese should simply drink less milk...
If westerners followed the same diet as most Indians, there'd be no crisis in food prices. She'd be a damn sight better off looking at her own country where the average person consumes nearly 100kg of meat per year.
 
G

Gadjodilo

Thac0man said:
The Biofuel causes world hunger argument is bullsh*t in the extreme.

Australia is undergoing a massive drought, Zimbabwe which was Africas bread basket, has ceased all prodcution and rice reserves world wide were halved in 2000 due to a dramatic rise in comsumption. Most of that was in play long before the 'Biofuels causes hunger' argument was dreamed up by OPEC and its allies. That argument only became fashoinable once America signed a deal with Brazil to buy corn for Bio-ethenol production. Rice is not used to make Biofuel.

A good article here about the failing rice crops which has a knock on effect worldwide in other food areas:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/17/business/worldbusiness/17warm.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

As for Merkels claim that bad agricultural policies in developing countries are also to blame, she is right. Countries like China do not have efficient large scale argiculture production but still rely (as do most other developing nations) on small holders using traditional and often manual methods of production. Agriculture is a sector that is way behind in the rush to develop the urban economies and thus nations are now deeply vunerable.

Vaste tracts of land worldwide are in private ownership and unproductive. But equally as much land is sitting idle or being used unproductivly. There is no simple solution. If the land I just mentioned is put to efficient use (unlike Zimbabwe), the amount of nitrates introduced into the environment sky rockets, even if the political obsticles in the way were removed and the political will was there. To avoid or lessen the impact of nitrates GM options might have to examined. Any solution is complex and hence many choose to defer to the Biofuels argument, because by the time they are proved wrong it will be too late to do anything - but at least they are getting attention and able to use it to promote some other cause.
There will always be droughts in some parts of the world. The only major change recently has been switching of land from food production to biofuels.

Yes, third world producers could be more efficient but that needs money and who's going to give that?
 

meriwether

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geraghd said:
I doubt she is suggesting that the Indians should eat less and the Chinese should simply drink less milk...
The Chinese are having a bad time of it......first the Olympic flame parade fiasco, now no milk........
 

geraghd

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meriwether said:
geraghd said:
I doubt she is suggesting that the Indians should eat less and the Chinese should simply drink less milk...
The Chinese are having a bad time of it......first the Olympic flame parade fiasco, now no milk........
It's a bad year to be Chinese alright..
 

geraghd

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Gadjodilo said:
geraghd said:
I doubt she is suggesting that the Indians should eat less and the Chinese should simply drink less milk...
If westerners followed the same diet as most Indians, there'd be no crisis in food prices. She'd be a damn sight better off looking at her own country where the average person consumes nearly 100kg of meat per year.

Ah yes, but at least us westerners can feed ourselves, no matter how much we eat. My thanks to CAP and US subsidies..
 

jjcarroll

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geraghd said:
Gadjodilo said:
geraghd said:
I doubt she is suggesting that the Indians should eat less and the Chinese should simply drink less milk...
If westerners followed the same diet as most Indians, there'd be no crisis in food prices. She'd be a damn sight better off looking at her own country where the average person consumes nearly 100kg of meat per year.

Ah yes, but at least us westerners can feed ourselves, no matter how much we eat. My thanks to CAP and US subsidies..
Indeed, and the current food crisises are possibly the most effective argument for a continuation of food security policies.
 

Thac0man

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Gadjodilo said:
There will always be droughts in some parts of the world. The only major change recently has been switching of land from food production to biofuels.

Yes, third world producers could be more efficient but that needs money and who's going to give that?
The fact is there are major droughts in many parts of the world at the some tmie currently. Read the article. As for money, the cash was there, but shortsighted economic decisions have caused the current problem.
 
G

Gadjodilo

Thac0man said:
Gadjodilo said:
There will always be droughts in some parts of the world. The only major change recently has been switching of land from food production to biofuels.

Yes, third world producers could be more efficient but that needs money and who's going to give that?
The fact is there are major droughts in many parts of the world at the some tmie currently. Read the article. As for money, the cash was there, but shortsighted economic decisions have caused the current problem.
The article deals mainly with rice. This doesn't explain soaring prices for wheat which has triggered bread riots in countries such as Egypt. These are mainly the result of bread-basket nations (especially the US) switching to bio-fuels.
 
G

Gadjodilo

geraghd said:
Gadjodilo said:
geraghd said:
I doubt she is suggesting that the Indians should eat less and the Chinese should simply drink less milk...
If westerners followed the same diet as most Indians, there'd be no crisis in food prices. She'd be a damn sight better off looking at her own country where the average person consumes nearly 100kg of meat per year.
Ah yes, but at least us westerners can feed ourselves, no matter how much we eat. My thanks to CAP and US subsidies..
A stunningly narrow and self-centred point of view. Do you think we won't be impacted if the rest of the world is starving? Do you think we don't import food?
 

Thac0man

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Gadjodilo said:
The article deals mainly with rice.
Which in an interlinked globalised economy has a knock on effect.
 

Thac0man

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Gadjodilo said:
A stunningly narrow and self-centred point of view. Do you think we won't be impacted if the rest of the world is starving? Do you think we don't import food?
We do import food, but we don't have to. We have space in Europe for massive over prodution still. Think of all those hundreds of billions the EU spent on curtailing our over production. If we wound back the clock on GATT and dropped the boom on cheap food imports much of the shortage in food would be solved in the developing world. We have given the developing world what they wanted via GATT, now they must decide what it is they need.
 

forest

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I dont know if anyone has traveled through germany by train/road I have in the east most of it is bright yellow of biofuel crops
The 1st time i saw this was when going from Wein to Prague I had no idea what it was
 

fergalr

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Just go up to Oldbridge outside Drogheda and there's rapeseed as far as the eye can see.

Dr. Merkel is an intelligent woman and I imagine she was making the point that there is now a considerably greater demand for food in the world. Indeed, poverty is receding year on year for the first time in recorded history - or so a report I read last year claimed. But biofuel diversion of crops is certainly to blame for the 200% leap in corn prices in Latin America. Again, this is a complex issue and fuzzy science or dismissive conservatism is going to find a way to solve this.
 
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