This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Another Reminder About the Future Food Supply

I was probably attracted to this article in the Sydney Morning Herald because I agree with everything it says, and I couldn't have said it better. 

Decades of rapid population growth, especially in developing countries, means there are more mouths to feed. The world's population will reach 7 billion this year and is forecast to top 9.5 billion by 2050. That will be three times more than in 1950. But it's not just the extra people adding to food demand - rising prosperity, especially in Asia, is playing a role. As people get wealthier they eat more and they eat differently. The consumption of products such as meat and milk has been growing rapidly. Dietary shifts linked to rising wealth that took centuries to occur in Western countries are taking place over a few decades in developing counties.
The push for biofuels - fuel made from plants - is another factor stoking demand. High global energy prices prompted many Western governments to encourage the production of biofuels with a combination of subsidies and mandates. As a result, millions of tonnes of cereals have been diverted away from food markets to energy needs.
The arrival of new investors in food commodity markets, including large pension funds, has also been blamed for adding to demand. This trend, and related allegations of speculation in food markets, have sparked calls for more regulation.
"There is a structural shift in the demand and supply balance of food on the planet," says Dr Bill Pritchard, a Sydney University economic geographer and food security expert. "It's a pattern that is going to face us over the coming decades."
It is important that we all keep this bottom line in mind as we face the future. Most of us in the rich world are completely separated from the sources of our food, and we just take for granted that there will always be enough food. 

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