Sunday, May 21, 2006

Global Food Supply Near the Breaking Point

I think it's safe to say that the combination of climate change and peak oil will indeed bring havoc to our global food production. I have no doubts. Stephen Leahy of the Inter Press Service reports that Global Food Supply Near the Breaking Point:
The world is now eating more food than farmers grow, pushing global grain stocks to their lowest level in 30 years.

Rising population, water shortages, climate change, and the growing costs of fossil fuel-based fertilisers point to a calamitous shortfall in the world's grain supplies in the near future, according to Canada's National Farmers Union (NFU).

Thirty years ago, the oceans were teeming with fish, but today more people rely on farmers to produce their food than ever before, says Stewart Wells, NFU's president.

In five of the last six years, global population ate significantly more grains than farmers produced.

And with the world's farmers unable to increase food production, policymakers must address the "massive challenges to the ability of humanity to continue to feed its growing numbers", Wells said in a statement.

There isn't much land left on the planet that can be converted into new food-producing areas, notes Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington-based non-governmental organisation. And what is left is of generally poor quality or likely to turn into dust bowls if heavily exploited, Brown told IPS.
...

"There's not nearly enough discussion about how people will be fed 20 years from now," he said.

Hunger is already a stark and painful reality for more than 850 million people, including 300 million children. How can the number of hungry not explode when one, two and possibly three billion more people are added to the global population?

The global food system needs fixing and fast, says Darrin Qualman, NFU's research director.


The article suggests that the old bumper sticker phrase, "Think Globally, Act Locally" is a large part of the solution. I agree. Not only will we discover that it is the solution for food production but energy production as well. Capitalism has produced agribusiness, which is an industrial process of food production based on maximizing profits. It's never been about supplying the people of the planet with healthy, nutritious food.

If we survive on this planet long enough we will eventually learn that capitalism was a very big mistake. There are other ways, better ways, to organize our society.

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2 comments:

  1. This is extremely troubling, to think that farmlands are also being considered as sources of biofuels or alternative energy. Could there be some way to balance their food AND fuel production capacity?

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  2. Glad you liked my story. I've done follow up stories that address those issues and some solutions. You can find them on my site http://stephenleahy.wordpress.com/
    under "Food"

    Cheers, Stephen Leahy

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