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This is serious.

The United Nations’ World Food Program has been hit so hard by skyrocketing grain prices that it may be forced to cut off some food aid to the world’s poorest countries, while the United States is planning to turn record quantities of corn into automotive fuel.

Cereal grain import prices for the world’s poorest countries are expected to rise 35% for the second consecutive year in 2008, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Droughts and floods have reduced grain stocks, and demand is rising in part because better living standards in developing countries are bringing a change in diet — Indians and Chinese are eating more meat, so more grain is needed for livestock feed. And ethanol is making a bad situation worse. The U.S. is the world’s top corn exporter, and about a quarter of last year’s crop went to ethanol. Food prices, meanwhile, have increased so much that the World Food Program says it will have to raise $500 million more just to carry out its scheduled operations.

via LA Times, via reddit

Update: The NY Times is publishing on the same issue.

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