"Is the world headed for a food crisis? India, Mexico and Yemen have seen food riots this year. Argentines boycotted tomatoes during the country's recent presidential elections when the vegetable became more expensive than meat; and in Italy, shoppers organized a one-day boycott of pasta to protest rising prices. In late October, the Russian government, hoping to ease tensions ahead of parliamentary elections early next year, announced a price freeze for milk, bread and other foods through the end of January.
What's the cause for these shortages and price hikes? Expensive oil, for the most part."...
"...On the demand side, one of the key issues is biofuels. Biofuels, made from food crops such as corn, sugar cane, and palm oil, are seen as easing the world's dependence on gasoline or diesel. But when crude oil is expensive, as it is now, these alternative energy sources can also be sold at market-competitive prices, rising steeply in relation to petroleum.
With one-quarter of the U.S. corn harvest in 2007 diverted towards biofuel production, the attendant rise in cereal prices has already had an impact on the cost and availability of food. Critics worry that the gold rush toward biofuels is taking away food from the hungry. Jean Ziegler, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on The Right to Food, recently described it as a "crime against humanity" to convert food crops to fuel, calling for a five-year moratorium on biofuel production."