In April 2008, Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank alerted the world to the fact that we are in the middle of a global food crisis that would last for a decade, at least. Production has not met expected yields and demand has grown, due mostly to global warming, population increase and better economic conditions in emerging countries.
There are an estimated 963 million people who go hungry. In economically depressed societies, financial recovery, however small is immediately followed by increased consumption of food.
Though they do not have famine on a sub-Saharan level, China and India, where an estimated 35% plus of global population can be found, are good examples of this phenomenon. China alone boasts double-digit Gross National Product yearly growth for close to 30 years (except 2008) and increasingly capitalistic internal practices. As a consequence of their economic bounty and fairer distribution of wealth, the recent increase in local consumption of food per capita has increased over the past decades.
Global warming, on the other hand, has played havoc with crop and feed yields across the globe over the past years. The Northern and Southern Hemispheres have suffered widespread climatic disasters over the past summers.
As a result of these combined factors, global stocks of crops and feed have dropped below levels considered safe. This has triggered a response in world markets, with commodity prices rising in an unprecedented manner. Future markets indicate no rebate and the effects on cost of living and inflation are being felt by all economies.
Furthermore, concerns over the environment and sustainable living indicate that we should restrict agricultural usage of lands in an attempt to partially restore the habitat. To date, as a species, we have relied heavily on expansion of the agricultural frontier, but deforestation today has become as intolerable as slavery. We have a limited amount of arable land and we have overextended that limit to the point where we have put the planet in danger.
Research and development in genetics over the past decades has significantly increased yield per acre, while dramatically decreasing the proportional use of water, fertilizers and agricultural herbicides and pesticides needed to grow them.We have more and hungrier mouths to feed and we cannot expect to have more land to grow plants on. We are not talking about future generations or distant lands, what we do today to address these issues will determine how well we shall be living our lives in a decade’s time. Either we produce more, using less natural resources, or Humanity will go hungry in 20 years time.