Why food shortages may define the future
Several factors are conspiring to weaken the reliability of our food production systems, warns Christian Westbrook, publisher of the website IceAgeFarmer.com
We’re seeing a shortening of the growing season for important crops due to weather trends and changes in the solar cycle.
Our food production system, which is highly dependent on chemical inputs and fossil fuels, is becoming increasingly brittle.
And we have more vulnerability due to the global nature of modern food supply chains. Crop shortages/failures in one part of the world impact all markets now.
For example, soybean supply is tightening as bad weather in South America and increased buying by China are hitting at a time when global stocks are already low.
As the world population grows, climate instability continues, and more countries are able to economically compete for resources, experts foresee future demand that may prove overwhelming vs supply:
In the past several decades, many of the world’s major breadbaskets have experienced shocks – events that caused large, rapid drops in food production. For example, regional droughts and heat waves in the Ukraine and Russia in 2007 and then again in 2009 damaged wheat crops and caused global wheat prices to spike by substantial amounts in both years. In 2012 heat and drought in the United States slashed national corn, soybean and other crop yields by up to 27 percent. And yields of important food crops are low and stagnating in many countries due to factors including plant diseases, poor soil quality, poor management practices and damage from air pollution.
At the same time, many experts assert that world food production may have to double by 2050 to feed a growing population and satisfy rising demand for meat, poultry and dairy products in developing countries.
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