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A Sustainable Food Supply to Meet Tomorrow's Needs

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Abstract:

For the past two decades, most of the developed world has experienced plentiful food supplies. Populations were lulled into a sense of security that food production was plentiful. Indeed, the oversupply in Europe during the 1980s even created a level of hostility towards both modern farming methods and the efficiency of mechanisation that was producing high yielding crops. Throughout this period of burgeoning production, there were the voices of some prophesying that global population growth and the switching of appetites by the increasingly affluent Asians and Chinese to meat based diets would create global food shortage. But these prophetic voices were not being listened to. Instead, the developed nations were on the economic trail of financial services expansion, throwaway consumer goods and lifestyles that suggested the basics of food security were more than resolved. Even the indulgence in old production methods, such as organic, was proposed as the answer to sustainable food supply. But then at some point in the year 2007 the crossover happened. With just a limited change downward in global yields caused by the confluence of poor wheat harvest in some countries, rice shortages elsewhere, the growing of biofuels in the USA and the conversion of diets from grains to meats in China, plus the global population expansion, all conspired to create food commodity prices to rise for the first time in more than two decades.

Document Type: Commentary

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1564/19dec06

Publication date: 2008-12-01

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