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A Look At the World's Dwindling Food Supply 570

An anonymous reader writes "The UK's Government Office of Science has released a report titled 'The Future of Food and Farming' which takes a look at, among other related concerns, how to continue to feed a global population that is on pace to reach 9 billion by the year 2050. 'The report calls for more innovation to increase production. That means using the potential benefits of GM crops and other biotech approaches, although these won't be a cure-all. There's room for improvement on the consumption end, too, as 30 percent of food never makes it into a human stomach; in the developed world, we let produce slowly rot in the backs of our fridges, and the in developing world, farm wastage causes a similar problem. ... Rising energy prices influence food security, with a correlation between food price and oil price that has become stronger over time, first increasing food production costs, and later by encouraging the diversion of food stocks into biofuel production.'"
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A Look At the World's Dwindling Food Supply

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  • Re:obvious (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @02:34AM (#35569146)

    Desalination requires energy. All problems are related to energy. Energy is the final obstacle between you and the heat death of the universe.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @02:43AM (#35569196)

    Particularly since there is no problem in the industrial world. Countries with a stable political system, modern infrastructure and so on do not have problems producing enough food. I'm not saying every nation stands as an island and produces everything it consumes, but collectively they can produce not just enough food, but far more than is needed. No problem at all.

    The problem is in less developed nations. Particularly it is a problem in ones with unstable and/or inefficient governments. Zimbabwe is a wonderful example. Used to produce plenty for export, now requires food aid. There was no ecological disaster, just a dictator who doesn't care or understand.

    So if you are talking about food problems where they actually exist on a global scale, which is what this seems to be talking about, the the problem is not one of "How can we grow enough food?" it is "How can we get people to stop killing each other and destroying the infrastructure used to grow food?"

    If we had a world where all nations were doing a reasonably efficient job of this, and we still had shortages, or were coming up on shortages, then it would be a different problem. But that is not the case at all.

    So unless this report is talking about coming problems for developed countries, if it is saying that in the US and Europe shortages are going to start developing unless there's new technology, then I'm calling BS and like you thinking there is an ulterior motive.

    Now none of that is to say that more efficiency is a bad thing. Use less, have more, it is a basic principle of life. However let's be real about what the problem is we are talking about and thus what would need to be done to solve it.

  • by Edmund Blackadder ( 559735 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @02:51AM (#35569258)

    I have never seen any land on nevada that can be used for farming. Remember for farming you need (1) cheap and plentiful water and (2) high quality soil.

  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @02:55AM (#35569282) Journal

    The other big wastage is "bycatch": []

    Shrimp trawl fisheries catch 2% of the world total catch of all fish by weight, but produce more than one-third of the world total bycatch. American shrimp trawlers produce bycatch ratios between 3:1 (3 bycatch:1 shrimp) and 15:1(15 bycatch:1 shrimp).[6]

    They found discard rates (bycatch to catch ratios) as high as 20:1 with a world average of 5.7:1.[5]

    Basically for every ton of shrimp caught worldwide, 5.7 tons of other stuff caught is discarded (and usually dead or good as dead by that time).

    And the sad thing is it's scientifically proven that humans thrive on diets that contain certain oceanic fish. We won't do so well if they go extinct.

    Stories about "dwindling food supply" and GM the "saviour" are mostly propaganda by GM companies to serve their agenda (to make them rich, get them favourable laws etc). There is still clearly enough food in the world. The number 1 reason people starve is politics.

  • Re:Food and Freeways (Score:5, Informative)

    by countertrolling ( 1585477 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @03:37AM (#35569474) Journal

    Not true. Countries with stable food supplies and secure, healthy, well educated societies have very low birth rates. And besides, our entire raison d'etre is procreation, until we infest the entire universe, and beyond...

  • The point is... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @03:38AM (#35569484) Homepage

    The point is to stop giving direct aid, which then makes them dependent on more aid. If you actually want any sort of long-term success, you have got to provide support for them to become independent. Sending food, and driving local farmers out of business is simply not useful.

    Moreover, "aid" is big business. Look at the number of organizations that make good money, leeching off the never ending stream of money. If one dares to question how beneficial the "aid" actually is, then one is suddently "Hitler".

    Thank you for proving Godwin's law yet again...

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @07:59AM (#35570604) Homepage

    Grazing meat: good, for all the reasons you mentioned.
    Feedlot meat: Pretty stupid, and currently much more common in the US.

  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @10:07AM (#35572168) Homepage

    No, it's not extremely backwards. The poor are more likely to be bored and horny and have nothing to do but screw. And they're less likely to be educated about things like birth control and STD spread as well.

    That's not the reason why when you're poor you have more kids in developing countries. It's because you need more hands to help around doing things, such as providing for the family. Or high infant mortality, and so on.

    Remember in the last 100 years, here in just North America, we've gone from families having of 8 or more kids, to 1. Why? Because you know that you're not going to lose 4 kids by the time they're 5, or they won't have some debilitating illness like polio. My grandparents had 2 kids, my great grandparents had 16(half were dead by the time they were 5, 2 others ended up with serious disabilities from childhood diseases and polio), my great-great grandparents had 18 kids. If I look back through the family tree in europe and asia you see 8, 12, 8, 20 kids, and so on with a 50% mortality rate under 10yrs of age.

    This leads to having kids as a necessity, not because you want to simply fuck.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!