Rising concerns about food security

Why is 'food security' sparking unrest?

"The most urgent issue confronting humanity in the next 50 years is not climate change or the financial crisis, it is whether we can achieve and sustain such a harvest," said Julian Cribb, scientist and author of "The Coming Famine."

...

"First, we need to recognize that investment in agriculture is defense spending," Cribb said Thursday. "If we want to prevent wars and refugees and a food crises, then we need to renew global investment in agriculture and agriculture science. Agriculture has been a low priority for the last quarter century."

Your thoughts?

Personally, I think Cribb is being a bit disingenuous. Certainly, famines are a huge problem and concern, especially for developing nations, but they don't exist in a vacuum. It's not just about investing in agriculture. There are massive amounts of food going to waste in developed nations, after all. It's far more about politics, money and food distribution than anything else.

Comments

Actually all signs are the Green Revolution has come close to peaking now and we are consuming fresh water supplies very quickly. Famine will result if we don't have a second major change to agriculture and famine will mean wars.

We need to be and can be a lot smarter in our farming.

For Africa, a lot of it is about education. Being able to teach people the best way of keeping their land intact and being able to live off it. Modern agricultural methods tend to turn it into a desert.

The other problem is not the rise in population, but the rise of an affluent population in places like China, India and Brazil. As they gain more money and their "middle class" grows, they want the same foods as eaten in other western countries. That is also going to make certain foods scarce.

Famine is not just caused by hot weather, it is also caused by how humans treat the land they are on.

Indeed, the hot weather is but a smallish part of the problem. India and Aussie are big worries. They are depleting their fossil water at an alarming rate and need to go to trickle feed watering. Well actually the whole world should but India and Aussie are the worst examples I can think of with a robust Agri-industry.

Quote Originally posted by What Exit? View post
Actually all signs are the Green Revolution has come close to peaking now and we are consuming fresh water supplies very quickly. Famine will result if we don't have a second major change to agriculture and famine will mean wars.

We need to be and can be a lot smarter in our farming.
But what about the fact that developed nations are wasting and consuming far more food than they need? Do we really have too little food, or is it just in the wrong places?

I agree that we need to be smarter, but that has a lot more to do with environmental concerns (which the article seems to be dismissing) than anything else. Trying to focus on agriculture in a vacuum isn't going to help matters. We need to look at the big picture of preserving arable land and fresh water. If climate change is going to be wiping out crops that, to me, is an indication that climate change is a BFD and not something to be dismissed in favor of agricultural research alone. It's all interconnected.

As for the Green Revolution, it certainly saved a lot of lives; it also led to a lot of monocultures. Cereal crops for animal feed and biofuels aren't exactly the best way to keep people fed. Particularly since those aren't the healthiest ways for people to be eating anyway. So I do think there is a lot of room there for more agricultural breakthroughs, if they focused on things other than grains and took sustainability into account.

Well every real problem inter-relates doesn't it?

You're absolutely right Zuul. Though crappy cereal diet sure beats no food. There is so much we can do so quickly to improve our land and water use and we still do virtually nothing. This is a agriculture, national defense and environmental concern all in one. Every nation should be concerned and should start working towards smarter management of these resources.

Quote Originally posted by What Exit? View post
Well every real problem inter-relates doesn't it?

You're absolutely right Zuul. Though crappy cereal diet sure beats no food. There is so much we can do so quickly to improve our land and water use and we still do virtually nothing. This is a agriculture, national defense and environmental concern all in one. Every nation should be concerned and should start working towards smarter management of these resources.
Damnit, Jim. I want to argue, not agree with you. Yes, you're right.

I live and breath this stuff though. Between Scientific America and the 4 different Environmental groups I am a member in (one very active) I stay fairly up on all these issues and they do all inter-relate.

Quote Originally posted by What Exit? View post
I live and breath this stuff though. Between Scientific America and the 4 different Environmental groups I am a member in (one very active) I stay fairly up on all these issues and they do all inter-relate.
They do, but my issue is with the article/Cribb acting as if they don't. Claiming that money and climate change aren't important in relation to agriculture is ignoring the fact that, actually, they all end up being part of the same problem. The fact that it all has an impact on the rest was just utterly ignored in the article.

Bad article indeed.

I have been saying for years and years that we need to collectively shift to a more agrarian lifestyle as a part of an overall solution. And now I keep reading about things like rooftop gardening and people keeping poultry and even goats in their backyard. It's a good thing.