Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another step closer to international famine

As seen at Instapundit.

Global grain markets are facing breaking point according to new research by the University of Leeds into the agricultural stability of China.

Experts predict that if China's recent urbanisation trends continue, and the country imports just 5% more of its grain, the entire world's grain export would be swallowed whole.

The knock-on effect on the food supply - and on prices - to developing nations could be huge.

Sustainability researchers have conducted a major study into the vulnerability of Chinese cropland to drought over the past 40 years, which has highlighted the growing fragility of global grain supply. Increased urban development in previously rich farming areas is a likely cause.


At the moment the Chinese government claims that China is 95% self sufficient in terms of grain supply. If China were to start importing just 5% of its grain (to make up a shortfall produced by low yields or change of land use to more profitable crops) the demand would hoover up the entire world's grain export.

The pressure on grain availability for international grain markets could, in turn, have a huge knock-on effect. Poorer countries are particularly vulnerable, as demonstrated by the 2007-2008 food crisis.

They left out the part about why using corn to power our cars is a good idea.


Dad29 said...

I'm skeptical of "famine impending" reports; they usually are issued by organizations with an agenda.

Generally, US agriculture produces what is needed. Of course, that assumes that the market is relatively pure.

You're right: burning corn is ineffably stupid (not to mention extremely selfish and hubris-laden.)

Anonymous said...

US agriculture operates in nothing even approaching a "relatively pure" market. It hasn't for decades.

Canada, the USA and the EU have heavily subsidized farming industries. If the Doha round of trade talks had passed it would put developing countries on an equal footing as our farmers. Without subsidies from western nations, developing nations could more than make up for any of China's demand. That is, if the industries could get access to consistent western markets in which to sell their goods.

The only shortage of food is the one we're creating by not allowing international trade.