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Re: SC51

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October 13, 2007 09:47AM
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/subscriber/columnists/top3/story/4055550p-4660684c.html

Food set to become the next big global news story

AT the beginning of the summer, the National Farmers' Union of Canada put out a press release that included the headline Global food crisis emerging.
The release is scary reading. Based on early predictions by the United States Department of Agriculture on world grain supply and demand for the 2007-08 crop year, the NFU's director of research, Darrin Qualman, broadcasts a dire warning that "we are in the opening phase of an intensifying food shortage."

Qualman means a worldwide shortage.

As the world went into the Northern Hemisphere's summer, total grain supplies were the lowest in the 47 periods for which data exists and were quite possibly at their lowest levels in a century. This crop season would mark the seventh year out of the past eight in which global grain production fell short of demand.

"The world is consistently failing to produce as much grain as it uses," Qualman said.

Despite the so-called "green revolution," the miracle of fertilizers, irrigation techniques, and disease-resistant grains, the world, once again is in danger of not feeding itself. There are all kinds of reasons for this: population growth, climate change, a shift to feeding livestock instead of using grain directly for food, which is a less efficient way of feeding people, and growing demand for ethanol.
There are no easy solutions and there are other potential problems. The collapse of cod supplies is well-known, but many edible fish species are also in danger. Qualman says one-third of ocean fisheries are already in collapse and scientific journals estimate that two-thirds may be in collapse by 2025............

.......... The warning signs are very real and much like climate change, the potential food shortage is a result of the way we consume and live our lives.

It's also an example of how solving one problem tends to produce another. The production of ethanol reduces dependence on oil, but diverts grains from the food supply, thereby assisting in one shortage but threatening another. For the world's food supply, it would be better if we all ate less meat and got our proteins in a different way, but we are as used to our diet as we are to driving cars and taking airplanes and we are now using grain to do so. Having had the benefit, in the West, of eating what we want, it is hard now to deny developing countries the same, just as it is difficult to argue against their increasing use of fossil fuels when the West has caused the great majority of the greenhouse-gas effect so far.

The prospect of climate change has now gained widespread acceptance, although the response is less clear. The building danger of food shortages, however, as production plateaus and the world population continues to increase is less well appreciated and almost totally without political action.

Qualman of the NFU is not a scaremonger. He's telling it as it is. So here's a prediction: Food is the next big global news story and just like climate change it will generate huge controversy.

The problem can be ignored, but it won't go away.
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