At MIT, the graduate students live by the following adage: “coursework, research, sleep – pick two.” I toiled under that mantra for six years, believing things could not possibly get worse. Silly me, I traded grad school for an assistant professor job where the governing adage is “research, grant writing, teaching, service – pick two, but excel at them all.” Note that in this job, sleep doesn’t even make the list.
This month, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) recommended that developed countries eliminate subsidies on domestic biofuel production, and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) suggested a moratorium on biofuel production. Both measures address the escalating global price of food, which is linked to increased demand for biofuel feedstock material in the wake of higher oil prices.
However, even as CGIAR and IFPRI are calling for reductions in biofuel production from food crops, President Bush is pushing for increased domestic ethanol generation from corn. According to the AP article, “Food scientists say stop biofuels to fight world hunger,” the President’s push to increase biofuel production arises from his national energy security policy and a desire to mitigate record-high fuel prices.
So, what do we do? We can starve our neighbors (and ourselves), save the environment, or secure our national energy supply; but we can’t do them all. The classic conundrum of having too many necessities and not enough resources to devote has escalated into a global problem: fuel, food, security - pick two.