Ethanol Mandates Impoverish Afghanistan, Fuel Islamic Extremism

War-torn Afghanistan, a critical front in the war on terrorism, is being impoverished by rising food prices aggravated by ethanol subsidies and mandates, reports the June issue of Washington Diplomat“Prices increased 60 percent in 2007 and another 70 percent to 75 percent in the first three months of 2008 . . . as demand for biofuels and animal feed climbed” throughout the world, writes Mark Hilpert in the article “In War Zone, Afghans Also Fight for Bread” (pg. 7).  In Afghanistan, where hunger already “threatened millions” owing to food shortages, “the average Afghan now spends up to 75 percent of their income on food.”  “Wealthy nations have taken note, worried that hunger-based instability could spread and provide a potential breeding ground for crime and terrorism.”

Ethanol subsidies and mandates are also fueling Islamic extremism in the Arab World.  As Newsweek earlier reported, food aid in poor Arab countries like Jordan is tied to anti-American political indoctrination by well-funded militant groups that support terrorism.

As Washington Diplomat notes, “Countries where the global food crisis has led to riots, strikes, deposed prime ministers and other unrest read like a litany of the world’s intractable hot spots: Haiti, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Bolivia, and Uzbekistan, to name a few.  In developing nation after developing nation, millions who were alread living on the edge of hunger have been pushed into such desperate acts as feeding their children with mud pies, as in Haiti.”  Food riots have also taken place in many other countries, such as Pakistan, Mexico, the Philippines, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Ethiopia, Mauritania, and Madagascar.

Ethanol subsidies and mandates have been criticized by civil-rights leaders for causing hunger and starvation on a vast scale, and by environmentalists for destroying forests, devastating the environment, and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.