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The Threats to Global Food Supplies

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The Threats to Global Food Supplies

Weiwen Huang
Student Number: 2171584
Class: Syllabus 4/1
Tutor: Siriol Lewis

In the past half-century, food production had a significant growth. At the same time, the global demand for food rose rapidly. It is required more food supply to feed the global growing population. Thus the global population growth is the main factor of rising food need. It was predicted that the global population will reach over 9 billion people by 2050(Black, 2010 cited in Slaght, 2012, p.28). Another factor is that food consumption per person shows a rising trend with increased consumption of animal protein (Leaver, 2011). Therefore, the primary task of global food supplies is that making sure the global food production can match the global food demand. It is not easy to be done, because there are many menaces to global food provision. This essay will discuss some threats for food supplies and identify several solutions to make the assignment easier to be fulfilled.

First of all, different resources constrict food production, such as land. It is well known that if food output want to be increase, it is necessary to increase the area of farmland. However, over the past 50 years the global farmland acreage just grew slightly, which did not match the growth of population. The agricultural land area for each person had fallen from 1.3 hectares to 0.72 hectares during 1967-2007. (Leaver, 2011) This means that average amount of food that can be consumed per person becomes less than 50 years ago. Thus, more food will need to be produced from the same amount of (even less) land (Godfray, et al., 2010). The water usage also has the similar situation that water will be more limited to usefor food supplies. Water is a critical resource in daily life and various industries, including food production and the water usage amount has been increasing. It is predicted that there will be two thirds of global population facing water shortage (Leaver, 2011). Therefore, the global food supply will be challenged by increasingly serious water shortage.

Secondly, The food supply is strongly impacted by climate change. Global warming results in increasing global temperature and rising sea level together, which will affect the growth of crop and livestock, as well as aquaculture yield (Godfray, et al., 2011). Extreme weathers which have appeared frequently, such as drought and heavy rainfall, would also reduce food yield. At the same time, agriculture is a major source of Green House Gas (GHG) emission, which impact climate change (Godfray, et al., 2011). Thus, food provision and climate change affect each other.

Reducing the waste in various aspects of food supply chain is a measure to overcome threats of food supplies. Godfray, et al., (2010) claims that approximately 30% to 40% of food is lost to waste in both developed and developing worlds. Developed countries still think it is difficult to eliminate food waste. This measure requires high technologies of storage to keep grain from decay before being eaten and not all places have the condition to ensure that. Taking an example, after buying food products from retails, normal people would put them in their refrigerators for several days. During this period, some foods could be exceed the quality guarantee date and would be thrown out without being eaten. For many developing countries, even during the transport and processing by specialized corporation, it is tough to enforce measures until they have enough funds to research or import this kind of technique.

Increasing food production is the basic approach to overcome threats of food supplies. Researching new biotechnology could increase productivity, control crop and livestock diseases and reduce the environmental impact (Leaver, 2011). For instance, in 1974, the world’s first hybrid rice was bred by Chinese scientists. Hybrid rice varieties yield about 15% to 20% more than those of improved or high-yielding varieties of same growth duration, and it have improved Chinese national average rice yields from 3.5 tons per hectare to 6.2 tons per hectare.(FAO, 2004) However, this kind of biotechnology always needs a long-term to research and practice. The hybrid rice research was initiated back in 1964,but the first hybrid rice which was applied widely were released after 10 years and commercialized in 1976 (Ma and Yuan, 2015). Therefore, it cannot be utilized in the recent food production in the recent food production and the measure that can be used instantly is required now.

Application of existing technologies is an effective method. Over the past half century, the investment in agricultural production has been reduced by many developed nations (Leaver, 2011), because the developed world has treated agriculture as a “sunset industry” which has passed its peak or boom periods and shows a decline tendency (Keating, et al., 2014). In developing areas, numerous advanced existing techniques are not still applied in their food supplies. Therefore, it is necessary to use them in both developed and developing worlds. However, the drawback of this measure is the financial strain of developing regions. Although using the existing technologies is cheaper than biotechnology innovation, many areas, such as African countries, do not still have sufficient funds to apply them. At this time, there should be some cheap even free economic and technical assistances from developed countries or some developing countries with adequate capacity to help others.

The effect of climate change cannot be eliminated, but the loss of food yield by climate change can be minimized. Adapting to the unavoidable climate change could achieve this target. Under the current situation, efforts of this measure can reduce the loss of current and future food production (Keating, et al., 2014). It is a complex work, since different places have their own climate characteristics and each condition need a specialized method to adapt climate change. While there are a mass of difficulties to implement the measure, it is the right direction to deal with threats of food supplies.

In conclusion, reducing the food waste and increasing food production through advanced technology is needed to meet food supply threats of feeding a much larger global population. The way to control the damage could be researched more to solve the menace of global food supplies. If these threats can be met or minimized, it is feasible to deliver enough food supplies to match rising food demand for 2050.
(1036 words)

Slaght, J., 2012. Diet and sustainability key to feeding the world: a food security report. In: J. Slaght and A. Palla, eds. 2012.English for Academic Study Reading & Writing Source Book. Reading: Garnet Education. pp.28-29.
Leaver, J.D., 2011. Global food supply: a challenge for sustainable agriculture. Nutrition Bulletin, 36(4), pp.416-421.
Godfray, H.C.J., Beddington, J.R., Crute, I.R., Haddad, L., Lawrence, D., Muir, J.F., et al., 2010. Food Security: The Challenge of Feeding 9 Billion People. Science, 327(5967), pp.812-818.
Godfray, H.C.J., Pretty, J., Thomas, S.M., Warham, E.J., Beddington, J.R., 2011. Linking Policy on Climate and Food. Science, 331(6020), pp.1013-1014.
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), 2004, Hybrid rice for food security. Rome, Italy, 12 - 13 February 2004. Rome: FAO.
Ma, G., and Yuan, L., 2015. Hybrid rice achievements, development and prospect in China. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 14(2), pp.197–205.
Keating, B.A., Herrero, M., Carberry, P.S., Gardner, J., Cole, M.B., 2014. Food wedges: Framing the global food demand and supply challenge towards 2050. Global Food Security, 3(3-4), pp.125-132.

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