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viernes, 18 de mayo de 2012



“ETHANOL is the hidden ingredient in rising corn tortilla prices in México”.


Los EEUU contribuyen a la exacerbación del hambre en MÉXICO.

Su política de producción de etanol a partir de maíz aumenta el precio del alimento básico de los mexicanos.

El etanol es el factor oscuro detrás del alza del precio de la tortilla.

Actualmente la producción de etanol en los EEUU consume el 40% de la cosecha de maíz de ese país.

El aumento de la producción y consumo del etanol obtenido del maíz en EEUU es estimulado por una serie de subsidios e incentivos gubernamentales. El resultado es el aumento del precio del maíz.

MÉXICO importa de EEUU un tercio del maíz que consume.

Por esta razón, de 2006 – 2011 el aumento del precio del maíz  resultó en un daño para MÉXICO entre 1,5 y 3.2 mil millones de USdólares.

La conversión de maíz en bio-combustible representa una amenaza importante para la seguridad alimentaria y  aumenta el hambre. En MÉXICO … y en otros países.

“Los EEUU contribuyen a la exacerbación del hambre en MÉXICO. El caso de MÉXICO es un ejemplo muy claro de cómo las políticas de los países que transforman alimentos en combustible, dañan de manera significativa a naciones que tienen que importar alimentos”.

Ethanol now consumes 40% of U.S. corn production.

Expanding US-production and consumption of corn-based ethanol is encouraged by a range of US-Government subsidies and incentives.

U.S. ethanol expansion has raised corn prices.

México imports one-third of its corn from the US.

The added cost of corn prices for Mexico, pushed up by US ethanol policy was between US$1.5 and US $3.2 billion from 2006-11.
This has contributed to rising hunger and food insecurity in Mexico.
Biofuel-related price increases are a significant threat to the food security of México … and elsewhere.
“Ethanol is actually the hidden ingredient in rising corn tortilla prices.
Mexico offers a clear example of how policies that divert food to fuel in richer nations are harming food-importing countries.”
According to a new Working Paper by Timothy A. Wise, Research and Policy Director at Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE), it cost Mexico between $1.5 and $3.2 billion from 2006 and 2011, when U.S. corn ethanol production expanded dramatically and food prices rose to alarming levels.

The Working Paper, “The Cost to México of the U.S. Corn Ethanol Expansion”,  was released in Mexico City last week, on the eve of a key meeting of vice ministers of agriculture from the G-20 countries. They met to set the G-20 agenda on food security in advance of the G-20 summit June 18-19 in Los Cabos, Mexico.

“Mexico is the chair of the G-20,” notes Wise. “The government has the opportunity to take a strong lead in that powerful body to address the underlying causes of the food crisis. Curbing the expansion of biofuels is crucial to that effort. Mexico itself bans the use of corn for ethanol to protect food security. Our study shows that Mexicans themselves have suffered from less restrictive U.S. biofuels policies.”

The Working Paper, which is being released in Mexico in conjunction with a policy report from the international aid organization, ACTIONAID, finds that:
·         Ethanol now consumes 40% of U.S. corn production. The production of corn for U.S. ethanol has grown dramatically in the last decade, spurred by U.S. government policies and rising oil prices.
·         U.S. ethanol expansion has raised corn prices. Conservative estimates suggest that prices would have been 21% lower in 2010 without the rising demand from U.S. ethanol. Other estimates suggest that the price impact is as high as 27% for the entire 2006-11 period.
·         Mexico imports one-third of its corn, and the added cost due to U.S. ethanol was between $1.5 and $3.2 billion from 2006-11. That is between $250 and $500 million per year, ten-to-twenty times the amount the Mexican government spends on MasAgro, a productivity program for Mexico’s small-scale corn farmers.
·         This has contributed to rising hunger and food insecurity in Mexico. Corn tortillas are the staple of the Mexican diet, accounting for 40% of calories consumed in the country. Tortilla prices rose 60% over these six years while the cost of the basic food basket jumped 53%. Meat and dairy prices, pushed up by high feed costs, increased 35%. In 2011, 56% of Mexicans suffered some period of food insecurity, and five million children went hungry.
·         The implications are even more dire for other food import dependent countries. Countries that grow little of their own staple foods see no benefit from higher prices for any citizens, as they have few farmers gaining from the price increases. For these countries, biofuel-related price increases are simply a growing drain on limited resources and a significant threat to the food security of their citizens.


The study recommends that the Mexican government take a strong stand in the upcoming G-20 meetings, by demanding that biofuels, commodity speculation, import dependence, and other underlying causes of the food crisis be on the agenda. Wise found in a recent co-authored report, “ Resolving the Food Crisis”,  that the G-20 was undermining global efforts to address the crisis, ignoring even its own commissioned studies on food security.

As Wise concludes in the new paper, “Such policies are costing Mexico dearly. Mexico should use its position as chair in the upcoming G-20 meeting to put biofuels back on the table.”


GDAE Working Paper. "The Cost to México of U.S. Corn Ethanol Expansion".:

ActionAid Policy Report: "Biofueling Hunger: How US Corn Ethanol Policy Drives Up Food Prices in México":
ActionAid is an international anti-poverty agency working in 50 countries, taking sides with poor people to end poverty and injustice together. Together with more than 2,000 civil society partner organizations worldwide, ActionAid works with and supports the poorest and most vulnerable people to fight for and gain their rights to food, shelter, work, basic healthcare and a voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

Triple Crisis Blog:"Spotlight G20 Will México lead action on Bio Fuels, Food Crisis?"

Study from the New England Complex Systems Institute. "Impact of ethanol conversin and financial speculation on México corn imports".

Policy report by Wise and Sophia Murphy, Resolving the Food Crisis: "Assessing Global Policy Reforms since 2007":

GDAE’s Globalization and Sustainable Development Program

The ecological impacts of biofuel production.
For years, some critics have claimed that corn-based ethanol has a negative “net energy balance” — that is, that ethanol requires more energy to produce than it delivers as fuel. But as biofuel production efficiencies have improved, critics have turned their focus to broader sustainability issues.
Even if corn and soy biodiesel have positive energy balances, that’s not enough. Large-scale production of corn and soybeans has negative ecological consequences. If biofuels are based on systems that exacerbate soil erosion and water contamination, they’re ultimately not sustainable.
As ethanol use pushes corn prices higher, farmers (in the US) are increasingly abandoning the traditional corn-soybean rotation to what’s known in farm country as corn-on-corn. High prices have encouraged farmers to plant corn year after year, an intensification that boosts fertilizer and pesticide requirements.
Water use has also become a concern as corn production expands into drier areas like Kansas, where the crop requires irrigation. The ethanol boom has sent water demands skyrocketing, putting pressure on already suffering aquifers.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world the hype over biofuels in the U.S. and Europe has had wide-ranging effects perhaps not envisioned by the environmental advocates who promote their use. Throughout tropical countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, and Colombia, rainforests and grasslands are being cleared for soybean and oil-palm plantations to make biodiesel, a product that is then marketed halfway across the world as a “green” fuel. 

And according to a recent report by the World Resources Institute, stepped-up corn ethanol production means not only increases in soil erosion and water pollution, but increases in greenhouse-gas emissions. “If your objective is reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, you need to be aware of what’s happening in the agricultural sector,” says Liz Marshall, coauthor of the WRI study.
Ethanol proponents say the fuel emits up to 13 percent fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline. But an increase in emissions on the farm could cancel out benefits from emission decreases at the tailpipe ……

Biofuels and Environmental Impacts: scientific analysis and implications for sustainability:http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001831/183113e.pdf

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