Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Future of Food

Those of us who grew up in post-World War II largesse should pay attention. Every time farm land on Long Island is converted to McMansion housing, we're adding to our future risk.

Sowing the seeds of farming's future

By Les Firbank


Global food stocks are running low and rich nations should not take security of supplies for granted, argues Les Firbank. In this week's Green Room, he outlines his vision for sustainable farming amid the uncertainties we face in the 21st Century.

The area for food production will decline as farmland is lost to housing, bio-energy cropping and, ultimately, sea level rise

In the last 12 months, the price of wheat has doubled, and all of a sudden, talk of food security is back on the agenda.

Global food stocks are running low.

There are three main reasons:


increasing use of crops for bio-energy, especially in the US
increasing demand for meat and milk products in the developing world (livestock are often fed grain and seeds, even if for only part of the year)
poor harvests around the world following droughts and floods
We are already seeing changes to farming. In Europe, the set-aside programme, a way of managing food surpluses by paying farmers not to grow crops, will no longer apply.

This alone will not be enough; the area for food production will decline as farmland is lost to housing, bio-energy cropping and, ultimately, sea level rise.

This means we will need to produce more food per hectare from the farmland that will remain.

Professor Les Firbank is head of the North Wyke Research Station at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, UK

No comments: