ďDonít believe everything you read.Ē Never have truer words been spoken. Here is a fact check of the January 6th New York Times article ďAs Biofuel Demand Grows, So Do Guatemalaís Hunger PangsĒ by Elisabeth Rosenthal:
NYT: In the tiny tortillerias of this city, people complain ceaselessly about the high price of corn. Just three years ago, one quetzal ó about 15 cents ó bought eight tortillas; today it buys only four. And eggs have tripled in price because chickens eat corn feed.
Tortillas in Guatemala are made from white corn, while U.S. ethanol is produced from No. 2 yellow corn. Very little white corn is grown in the U.S., but acres dedicated to white corn have not been reduced since passage of the RFS. These two types of corn have distinctly different global markets, demand drivers, and price pressures. It is entirely disingenuous to suggest stronger demand and tighter supplies of No. 2 yellow corn in the U.S. are significantly influencing local white corn prices in Guatemala.
According to U.N. FAO, food prices in Guatemala increased more slowly than normal in 2012. The Guatemalan consumer food price index increased an average of 0.5% per month in 2012, compared with 0.8% in 2011 and 0.6% in 2010. Average food price inflation was 1.0% per month or higher in 2008, 2004 and 2001 and has averaged 0.7% per month since January 2000.
NYT: Meanwhile, in rural areas, subsistence farmers struggle to find a place to sow their seeds.
Guatemalan farmers are harvesting more corn than in the past. Guatemala harvested 850,000 hectares of corn in 2012, the second-highest level in history, according to USDA. Over the past five years, harvested corn acres have been 32% higher, on average, than in the preceding 10 years.