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Tagged : food-scarcity


Rising meat consumption takes a big portion of grain harvest

November 23rd, 2011

World consumption of animal protein is everywhere on the rise. Meat consumption increased from 44 million tons in 1950 to 284 million tons in 2009, more than doubling annual consumption per person to over 90 pounds. The rise in consumption of milk and eggs is equally dramatic. Wherever incomes rise, so does meat consumption.

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How China’s struggle to feed itself could starve the world

March 23rd, 2011

In 1994, I wrote an article in World Watch magazine entitled “Who Will Feed China?” that was later expanded into a book of the same title. When the article was published in late August, the press conference generated only moderate coverage. But when it was reprinted that weekend on the front of the Washington Post’s Outlook section with the title “How China Could Starve the World,” it unleashed a political firestorm in Beijing.

The response began with a press conference at the Ministry of Agriculture on Monday morning, where Deputy Minister Wan Baorui denounced the study. Advancing technology, he said, would enable the Chinese people to feed themselves. This was followed by a government-orchestrated stream of articles that challenged my findings.

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One poor harvest away from chaos

February 15th, 2011

Lester Brown

Today there are three sources of growing demand for food: population growth; rising affluence and the associated jump in meat, milk, and egg consumption; and the use of grain to produce fuel for cars.

In early January, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that its Food Price Index had reached an all-time high in December, exceeding the previous record set during the 2007-08 price surge. Even more alarming, on February 3rd, the FAO announced that the December record had been broken in January as prices climbed an additional 3 percent.

Will this rise in food prices continue in the months ahead? In all likelihood we will see further rises that will take the world into uncharted territory in the relationship between food prices and political stability.

Everything now depends on this year’s harvest. Lowering food prices to a more comfortable level will require a bumper grain harvest, one much larger than the record harvest of 2008 that combined with the economic recession to end the 2007-08 grain price climb.

If the world has a poor harvest this year, food prices will rise to previously unimaginable levels. Food riots will multiply, political unrest will spread and governments will fall. The world is now one poor harvest away from chaos in world grain markets.

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A no-Turkey Thanksgiving, no kidding

November 15th, 2010

Our friends in vegan-land issue a call every year about this time asking people to consider celebrating the holidays without eating animals.

(For those of you already looking for turkey substitutes and other veggie friendly recipes, you can jump off right now to Gentle Thanksgiving, where they’ve got a recipe for juicy, tofu-based stuffed Not-A-Turkey.)

We recognize that some people might find this call to action needless, strange, even an affront to their position atop the food chain. That is certainly understandable considering that the Thanksgiving turkey and the Christmas ham (or brisket or pork loin roast) are a big part of the American holidays. Other events that fall around this time, like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, also have their meat components, kosher or otherwise. Having meat is usually part of the repast.

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