Friday, March 22, 2013

food for thought

Food is one of just three basic human needs (clothing and shelter being the other two)
From 1980 through 2011, there has been a 24.2 percent increase in corn yields, 21.8 percent in soybean yields, 22.7 percent in rice yields and a 10.5 percent increase in wheat yields. The world has produced enough food to feed its entire global population. Yet there are 848 million undernourished people worldwide, with 98 percent of these people living in developing countries and 62 percent in Southern Asia or sub-Saharan Africa.
However, how about the next 40 years? Can we produce enough food to feed the world population so the people can lead an active and healthy life? The world population is expected to grow by about 30 percent by 2050. The population is expected to grow from 7.2 billion in 2011 to 9.3 billion in 2050.
The total calorie consumption in 2050 is projected to be 33 trillion calories, which is based on a projected world population of 9.3 billion. Calorie consumption by region also is estimated by using the same model for each region. The percentage increase in calorie consumption is highest in Asia (103 percent), followed by North America (54 percent) and Latin America (38 percent). The projected percentage increase in calorie consumption in Europe and Oceania is less than 4 percent.

Based on expected changes in arable land and farming technology, the world production of calories is projected to be 31 trillion calories in 2050, a short-fall of 2 trillion calories. Furthermore, the food shortage estimates are forecast to be more severe in Africa and Asia than other regions.

To produce large quantities of food companies look for economies of scale, using chemicals to control weeds and pests instead of more labour-and space-intensive options and often packing animals into very crowded spaces. The cost of this food trickles down in many ways, including food safety issues (14 Americans die every day as a result of food-borne illness and in Canada over the last few years over 250 food recalls); increased use of antibiotics (more than half of all antibiotics used in North America are fed to livestock and 90 per cent are administered to make animals grow faster, not to treat infections); and water pollution (The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates agriculture is responsible for 70 per cent of the country's water pollution). In capitalism the focus is more on managing fears than managing risks; economics continually trumped safety.

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