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Thread: Is the world running out of food?

  1. #1

    Is the world running out of food?

    Interesting discussion...

    A surging population will mean more hungry people in some parts of the world. But it is not yet time to panic.

    NOT in the short term. Stocks of grain and other foods are high, with another bumper harvest due in the northern hemisphere this year. Food prices have been dropping in real terms since a spike in 2011. The number of hungry people has been falling too, by 167 million in the past decade (according to the rough estimates used by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), chiefly thanks to progress in China and India. Yet that leaves nearly 800m, a third of which are in Africa. The UN reckons that one measure, “prevalence of undernourishment” has dropped from 18.6% of the world population in 1990–92 to 10.9% now. That broadly meets a target the world set itself in 2000, in the Millennium Development Goals.

    But international bodies such as the G7 are worried about the coming decades. The world’s population will exceed nine billion in 2050, with most of the growth in developing countries. The United States Department of Agriculture reckons that the number of hungry (“food insecure”) people in sub-Saharan Africa will rise by a third. The FAO reckons that food production will need to increase by 70%. Worries abound. Crop yields are flat. And many trends are negative: new crop diseases, urbanisation, desertification, salinisation and soil erosion, which outstrips renewal even in developed countries.

    That does not mean disaster is looming. Agricultural productivity is often shockingly low in “traditional” farming practices. That leaves plenty of room for improvement. But in most kinds of agriculture, scarce water can be used more sensibly. A study by Britain’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers estimated that 550 billion litres are wasted annually in crop production. Eliminating waste, for example by drip-feed irrigation, could raise food production by 60% or more. Phosphorus (a finite resource, unlike water) is wasted too: only a fifth of the phosphorus mined actually ends up in food. Climate change will indeed hurt some farmers but helps others (so, perhaps, does more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere). GM crops (such as drought-resistant rice, heat-resistant maize or blight-resistant wheat) have huge potential.

    Technology is only part of the solution. The food chain lacks resilience to other forms of disruption too, from political strife to consumer panics. Panics about contamination (real or imagined), for example, can send food flying off the shelves (Nestlé is having to destroy 27,000 tonnes of instant noodles in India, amid a row about lead contamination). A new report by Lloyds, the London insurance market, highlights the need for more innovation to help farmers and food manufacturers deal with adverse weather and other potential risks. The G7 summit in Germany in early June agreed that it would aim to lift 500m people from hunger by 2030. Attention now shifts to a UN development summit in New York in September, where countries will discuss not merely halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, but eradicating hunger. The first big target has been met. The next one will be even harder.

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  3. #2
    I'll que up a steak tonight and think about it.
    Ain't got nobody
    Waiting at home.

  4. #3
    Norman Borlaug to the rescue... pretty much the savior of minkind. (too bad he died a few years back - still his legacy lives on.

  5. #4
    Soylent Green?...

  6. #5
    This isn’t helping...

    Key facts on food loss and waste you should know!

    Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.

    Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries.

    Industrialized and developing countries
    dissipate roughly the same quantities of food — respectively 670 and 630 million tonnes.

    Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food.

    Global quantitative food losses and waste per year are roughly 30% for cereals, 40-50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20% for oil seeds, meat and dairy plus 35% for fish.

    Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).

    The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world's annual cereals crop (2.3 billion tonnes in 2009/2010).

    Per capita waste by consumers is between 95-115 kg a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia, each throw away only 6-11 kg a year.

    Per capita food losses and waste, at consumption and pre-consumptions stages,
    in different regions

    Total per capita food production for human consumption is about 900 kg a year in rich countries, almost twice the 460 kg a year produced in the poorest regions.

    In developing countries 40% of losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels while in industrialized countries more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels.

    At retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance.

    Food loss and waste also amount to a major squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, labour and capital and needlessly produce greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change.

    The food currently lost or wasted in Latin America could feed 300 million people.

    The food currently wasted in Europe could feed 200 million people.

    The food currently lost in Africa could feed 300 million people.

    Even if just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world.

    Food losses during harvest and in storage translate into lost income for small farmers and into higher prices for poor consumers.

    In developing countries food waste and losses occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain and can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage and cooling facilities. Strengthening the supply chain through the direct support of farmers and investments in infrastructure, transportation, as well as in an expansion of the food and packaging industry could help to reduce the amount of food loss and waste.

    In medium- and high-income countries food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain. Differing from the situation in developing countries, the behaviour of consumers plays a huge part in industrialized countries. The study identified a lack of coordination between actors in the supply chain as a contributing factor. Farmer-buyer agreements can be helpful to increase the level of coordination. Additionally, raising awareness among industries, retailers and consumers as well as finding beneficial use for food that is presently thrown away are useful measures to decrease the amount of losses and waste.

  7. #6
    78% of all published statistics are fake news.

    But seriously, never trust statistics. Especially when they're publishing doom and gloom. They've been saying the world is going to run out of food for the last 50 years...and yet we're still here.
    <----I'm with Spartacus

  8. #7

  9. #8

    Is the world running out of food?

    I thought all internet stats were 100% correct?

  10. #9
    If we're running out of food why is over 70% of the US population overweight?

    This is the first time in history when even the majority of poor people have to much food to eat.


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  12. #10
    It's true, we are wasting a lot of food which translates to resources. I think we're safe though, as there are technological advancements being made steadily, which make food production easier and cheaper all the time.

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