Thursday, February 01, 2007

Tortilla Scare

All politics may be local, but consequences can turn out to be global in the funniest ways. By some accounts, the rise of environmentally friendly fuels in the US threatens malnutrition in Mexico.

The story goes like this. Mexican torilla prices have recently risen 400%. The government has this largely down to hoarding, speculation, and so on. The problem may be, however, that cheaply grown American corn, once used to make bargain tortillas in Mexico, is now being consumed north of the border for the production of environmentally friendly fuels. Tortillas are, apparently, the chief source of calories for a majority of poor Mexicans, who are in turn most of the population.

I have, of course, no idea how this is best addressed, but it represents a fascinating little problem for lefties like me who tend to assume that feeding the hungry and protecting the planet are a) self-evidently good and b) generally compatible with one another. It's probably healthy now and then to be reminded how blindingly complex these issues can be.
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