La sed de etanol

WEST LAFAYETTE (INDIANA) – Los precios de los alimentos han superado en muchos casos los máximos alcanzados en julio de 2008. En aquel momento, se atribuyeron sus subidas a la demanda mundial en aumento de los productos básicos alimentarios, una importante depreciación del dólar de los EE.UU., las malas cosechas en algunas zonas del mundo y los biocombustibles, pero, ¿qué es lo que está haciendo subir rápidamente los precios en este momento?

Creo que ahora los factores fundamentales son algo diferentes de los que lo hicieron en 2008. El aumento de la demanda mundial de productos básicos para la alimentación humana y animal siguen contando mucho al respecto, como también los biocombustibles, pero las consecuencias a corto y a largo plazo son muy diferentes.

Al mejorar la situación económica de los países en desarrollo, una de las primeras cosas que ocurren es la llamada “transición dietética”. Al disponer de más ingresos, la población empieza a añadir a su cesta alimentaria más productos animales. Su producción requiere muchos más recursos agrícolas que una dieta basada predominantemente en los vegetales. De modo que, al aumentar los ingresos, la demanda de productos básicos alimentarios aumenta aún más rápidamente. Tanto el crecimiento demográfico como la transición dietética contribuyen a un aumento más rápido de la demanda y a unos mayores precios de los alimentos.

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