New era of food scarcity threat
Environmentalists say the world is on the brink of a new era of food scarcity driven by a "perfect storm" of climate change, water shortage and a rising population” says US analyst and author Lester Brown.
The world is adding 80 more million people are year and that means there's an extra 219,000 people at the dinner table tonight who weren't there last night.
And it's not only that, as you know it's fed to cattle, pigs and chicken. So it's the price of meat that's really at stake here when the price of corn doubles as it has over the last several months.
More than half the counties in the US have been declared natural disaster areas by the US Department of Agriculture due to the drought, which now covers more than 60 per cent of the lower 48 states. In response, the US Government plans to buy up to $160 million of meat from its farmers to help them through the drought crisis. Severe draught is also crippling farmland in Russia's wheat belt, while below average monsoon rains in India is also adding to concern that global grain crops could plunge.
Ukraine, also a major exporter of grain, has banned wheat exports due to poor harvest this year. As a consequence only 50 days’ worth of stocks are left in world’s granaries.
A rise in food prices is often linked to social and political turmoil in poor countries, where people already use most of their income to buy food.
Since the 1990s, a once-standard policy of most countries since ancient times – maintaining of reserves from good years as a hedge against famine in bad years – has disappeared, making all people reliant on this year’s weather – something so stupid it has never been done before. Over time, these grain reserve programs were discontinued largely because of cost and improved market efficiency. If future supply disruptions attributable to drought become more frequent, they may affect not only livestock production but human food consumption as well.
The high costs of producing meat
Meat raising use up 43% of entire grain harvesting and 85% of entire legume harvesting. Of all the cause of Amazon virgin rain forest deforestation, 70% are cut down in order to raise meat.
If crops wastefully fed to livestock are included, European countries have more than three times more food than they need, while the US has around four times more food than is needed, and up to three-quarters of the nutritional value is lost before it reaches people's mouths.
High corn prices mean high feedstock prices, so impact on livestock industry not only in China but throughout Asia because Asia imports corn for livestock. Many ranchers have been forced to bring their animals to market earlier than usual because they cannot afford the rising price of grain, thus cutting into the market value of their animals. Providing assistance to Mid-Western farmers makes matters worse because a good portion of the grain grown in the “farm belt” is used to feed livestock. Very little of the US's rich agricultural lands actually grows food for direct human consumption; rather a large proportion is fed to cattle.
Meat eating surging in Asia
As recently as 1995, China was basically self-sufficient in soybeans. Today, imports account for 75 per cent of its soaring consumption as rising incomes, especially in the burgeoning middle-class, enable many of the country's 1.35 billion people to consume more meat, dairy products, eggs and farmed fish.
More than a quarter of the meat produced worldwide is now eaten in China, mainly pork and poultry. In 1978 when China started agricultural reforms, its meat consumption was one third that of the US. Today, China's annual meat consumption of 71 million tonnes is more than double the US figure.
Wastage and devastation of eating meat
Entire livestock in the world produce 87,000 pounds of excrements per second, which is 130 times more then the human population.
Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water and contributes to animal suffering. According to PETA more than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution claim that the equivalent of seven football fields of land is bulldozed worldwide every minute to create more room for farmed animals.
More than 70 percent of the grain and cereals that are grown in the USA are fed to farmed animals. Raising animals for food is grossly inefficient, because while animals eat large quantities of grain, soybeans, oats, and corn, they only produce comparatively small amounts of meat.
It takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie from animal protein as it does to make one calorie from plant protein.
Nearly half of all the water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food.
According to Greenpeace, all the wild animals and trees in more than 2.9 million acres of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil were destroyed in the 2004-2005 crop season in order to grow crops that are used to feed chickens and other animals in factory farms.
The EPA (USA) reports that chicken, hog, and cattle excrement has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.
This industry is based on a cuisine that demands animal products, to conform to traditions of our assumed "hunter and gatherer" past, slavishly assuming that the hunting harvest is and must remain the main source of our nutrition. It's rapacious in it's appetite for natural resources, environmental destruction, pollution and ongoing animal cruelty. Farms are not what they once were, with farmers having a close connection with their land and stock. They are big corporations now, and factory farms are inherently cruel - with massive political power.
Much of the world's water supply is quietly being diverted to raise livestock without any media coverage, while millions of people across the globe are faced with droughts and water shortages. Sadly, as the Western diet spreads to the rest of the world, even desert nations in Africa and the Middle East are pouring what little water remains into meat production.
Lester Brown: if it's business as usual, nothing else happens, there'll be food scarcity but I find it inconceivable there wouldn't be responses (from world leaders).
Some nations, such as China, are already taking action by buying arable land around world, including Africa, and, yes, Australia.
SAVE OUR PLANET Energy sectors to shape sustainability of future development -- UN
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, FAOSTAT data for 2009: 8,702,490 beef cattle, 32,049,100 sheep , 474,809,000 chickens and 4,521,760 Pigs were sent to slaughter in AUSTRALIA in just one year (Ref. Food and Agr. Org. of U.N website)
Over 700,000 unwanted week old dairy calves are sent to slaughter ever year in Australia as a by-product of the dairy Industry. (Ref, Animals Australia website)
Embracing a diet full of organic life giving fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains not only nourishes the body but the mind and spirit as well.
Part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy, Vegucated follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Lured by tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture that make them wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc. go far enough. This entertaining documentary showcases the rapid and at times comedic evolution of three people who discover they can change the world one bite at a time.