# World Food Supply Dwindling

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The UN reports that the World's food supply is dwindling rapidly while prices are approaching historic highs. http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/17/europe/food.php

The changes created "a very serious risk that fewer people will be able to get food," particularly in the developing world, said Jacques Diouf, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

The agency's food price index rose by more than 40 percent this year, compared with 9 percent the year before - a rate that was already unacceptable, he said. New figures show that the total cost of foodstuffs imported by the neediest countries rose 25 percent, to $107 million, in the last year. At the same time, reserves of cereals are severely depleted, FAO records show. World wheat stores declined 11 percent this year, to the lowest level since 1980. That corresponds to 12 weeks of the world's total consumption - much less than the average of 18 weeks consumption in storage during the period 2000-2005. There are only 8 weeks of corn left, down from 11 weeks in the earlier period. Prices of wheat and oilseeds are at record highs, Diouf said Monday. Wheat prices have risen by$130 per ton, or 52 percent, since a year ago. U.S. wheat futures broke $10 a bushel for the first time Monday, the agricultural equivalent of$100 a barrel oil.

Diouf blamed a confluence of recent supply and demand factors for the crisis, and he predicted that those factors were here to stay. On the supply side, these include the early effects of global warming, which has decreased crop yields in some crucial places, and a shift away from farming for human consumption toward crops for biofuels and cattle feed. Demand for grain is increasing with the world population, and more is diverted to feed cattle as the population of upwardly mobile meat-eaters grows.

"We're concerned that we are facing the perfect storm for the world's hungry," said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program, in a telephone interview. She said that her agency's food procurement costs had gone up 50 percent in the past 5 years and that some poor people are being "priced out of the food market."
Wheat has just hit a record high of $10.095 per bushel for March delivery. Wheat for March delivery, which reached a record$10.095 a bushel yesterday before settling at $9.66, today rose as much as 1.1 percent to$9.77 in after-hours electronic trading on the Chicago Board of Trade. They traded little changed at $9.6575 as of 12:17 p.m. local time in London. Global wheat inventories may drop 11 percent by May 31 to 110.1 million metric tons, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. What happens if next year's crops don't do well? ## Answers and Replies Related General Discussion News on Phys.org What happens if next year's crops don't do well? Average incomes will increase. UN said: Demand for grain is increasing with the world population, and more is diverted to feed cattle as the population of upwardly mobile meat-eaters grows. Prosperity has its down side. Last edited: As long as a box of mac-n-cheese us under$2 and an apple 40 cents I don't see how anyone goes hungry :)

wolram
Gold Member
As long as a box of mac-n-cheese us under $2 and an apple 40 cents I don't see how anyone goes hungry :) May be when china buys all your food from under you. Evo Mentor What about all of the food we sent to starving African nations that was left to rot because the countries didn't want to anger EU countires because of their laws against bio-engineered crops? The United States is able to grow food in enormous capacities. As the world's largest food exporter, the United States gives most of its food assistance "in-kind." That is, we send U.S.-produced food commodities abroad and have done so for nearly 50 years. U.S. farmers have widely accepted bio-engineered corn and soy varieties for their environmental and economic benefits. Therefore, U.S. commodity shipments of corn and soy for food aid and export markets are likely to contain bio-engineered crops. http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/africa_humanitarian_crisis/bio_answers.html What about all of the food we sent to starving African nations that was left to rot because the countries didn't want to anger EU countires because of their laws against bio-engineered crops? http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/africa_humanitarian_crisis/bio_answers.html Not w/o an abundance of petro-chemicals. Show us some data re the genetically engineered products and how thats the only way we can afford to give it a way! Truth I think is many countries, including most of europe has turned its nose up on this stuff, and Monsanto, et al, are doing the Nestle routine--dumping crap on the third world. "Eat this (with a gun poised to ones head) or die of starvation" is the image that comes to mind. drankin If there is such a food shortage, why are people fatter than ever in history? right now my mom is trying to ganetically splice a speases of seaweed with watermelon dont laff its true beacuse it grows faster than any other plant right now the plant producess softball size fruit that tast like watermelon with alot of salt on it and a background tast of seaweed mom said its not done yet not saposed to have heavy salt or seaweed tast but the plant does produce 16 mealons every 3 1/2 mo Evo Mentor Show us some data re the genetically engineered products and how thats the only way we can afford to give it a way! Read the link I provided, it will answer your questions. May be when china buys all your food from under you. They may buy more than just our food. The Chinese just bought a$5 billon chunck of Morgan Stanley. Yet at this point the Chinese want to sell us food.

Evo:

Im not sure you have read the article you posted a link to yourself? Have you?

The problem arises when people happen to plant the GM crops in africa. I do not know how well you are educated, but there seem to be some things you do not understand.

1. Naturally bred species of corn in different countries are adapted to those countries.
2. Corn, grown in Americas will not encounter the same conditions in Africa.
3. The corn may breed with the natural species, thus harming the yield.
4. A high food value is not the same as a high reproduction rate. The GM strain may be a better fertile breed, but still it gives lesser yields.

The problem with GM food sorts are at a entirely different place than the tummy. ;)

- The GM strains may harm a country's agriculture
- Some GM crops produce infertile seed, to keep their customers buying new seed every year ;).. This is immoral.

russ_watters
Mentor
Those may sound like real concerns, hexan, but there is no evidence that those concerns are actually real. My grandfather is a farmer (now retired) and I once brought up the subject of GM crops to him. I asked him if he would ever consider not using them. He laughed.

When the environmentalists convinced several african countries not to accept donations of GM crops that could have helped end the famines there, they committed murder.
- Some GM crops produce infertile seed, to keep their customers buying new seed every year ;).. This is immoral.
No, that's business. And not to worry - if the GM crops really aren't as good, the farmers wouldn't buy them next year anyway, would they?

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dst
Those may sound like real concerns, hexan, but there is no evidence that those concerns are actually real. My grandfather is a farmer (now retired) and I once brought up the subject of GM crops to him. I asked him if he would ever consider not using them. He laughed.

When the environmentalists convinced several african countries not to accept donations of GM crops that could have helped end the famines there, they committed murder. No, that's business. And not to worry - if the GM crops really aren't as good, the farmers wouldn't buy them next year anyway, would they?

Not to mention, if these plants are really as bad as fears go, we won't be seeing much of them. Isn't the situation with rapeseed bad enough?

russ:
Yeah.. Well Im a farmer, and I sure as hell wouldnt plant any gm crops.

DrClapeyron
Corn is native only to the Americas, and before GM crops, corn was introduced through out the world. Horse and cattle have grown quite well in Texas, Brazil and Argentina before GM and potatos have done well in Maine and Idaho prior GM.

Selective breeding has been around long before the GM crop, so I am not so sure whether there is an issue at all or a bit of stuborness.

turbo
Gold Member
And not to worry - if the GM crops really aren't as good, the farmers wouldn't buy them next year anyway, would they?
I think that the point is that infertile seed can't be reserved as seed for next year's crop. Here in the US, farmers give no thought to buying high-yield hybrids that don't breed true.

In many parts of the world, seeds are reserved from this year's crop to plant next year's crop. If GM plants hybridize with their traditional crops, the farmer's independence on seed (he can save his own instead of buying more next year) can be broken, and he will never know about the failure of his hybridized seed until the next crop fails to come in, leaving him and his family with no option but to try to buy seed and re-plant at what may not be an optimal time of the season.

Here in Maine there is an organization (MOGFA) that is an affiliation of organic growers and farmers. Many of these farmers supply seed, saplings, root-stock, etc to local seed companies like Johnny's and FEDCO (big business up here) and they are very concerned about the introduction of GM crops for this very reason. If the GM crops from another farm cross-pollinate their heirloom varieties with negative effects on propagation, germination rates, etc, we will have lost a valuable resource, perhaps forever. The farmers who want GM crops insist that small buffer zones around their fields will protect the heirloom crops from inadvertent cross-pollination from wind-borne pollen. They haven't managed to explain how they'll train bees, hummingbirds, etc to stay only in their fields and not fly to another field several hundred yards away, though.

Corn is native only to the Americas, and before GM crops, corn was introduced through out the world. Horse and cattle have grown quite well in Texas, Brazil and Argentina before GM and potatos have done well in Maine and Idaho prior GM.

Selective breeding has been around long before the GM crop, so I am not so sure whether there is an issue at all or a bit of stuborness.
haha.. you know, farmers have to think long-term.. And a good farmer plans years into the future, if not until next generation. They know choices they make today will affect the future; thats why farmers are skeptics.. After having that in mind, they have also been a force for renewal throughout. Competition has led people who have the edge, the new technology, to be a little more successful..

Good farmers are therefore both conservative and innovative ;)..

When I speak of corn, excuse me, I mostly think of grain (pronounced korn in norway). But this still doesnt matter, GM is a danger to the original species. I believe in natural selection; maybe with a little help of man. But NOT on the dna-manipulation-level.. Not yet. Its too uncertain. There are actually countless things which could go wrong. Concerning deceases, weather variations, ecosystems, insects, on-and-on-and-on.......

What we have learned by time is that we sometimes believe we have found the ultimate sollution. Be it lobotomy, DDT, nuclear bombs.. Remember, DNA-fixing is quite new. Being modest, acknowledging our ignorance and proceeding carefully is probably the best we could do.. ;)..

Stubborn my ass..

DrClapeyron
Big business is big business, and to the firms putting out GM seeds which do not compete well with the brand favorite 'original', there is room for improvement and it is only a matter of time before market forces pay out their tune.

DrClaperton:

You know, there is a very indistinguishable border between capitalism and communism. You know, none of these ideas are based on human nature.

Wouldnt the best political strategy be one that is based upon our nature?
Communism - Share everything, nobody owns anything:
This is just a stupid stupid ideology. People are animals, decended from animals, and still like animals. We want our territories, we want children.. We have instincts and needs beyond food.
Capitalism - Everyone for themselves. What stupid **** is this? Everyone for themselves.. This has nothing to do with the human race, and all to do with tube worms. In our evolution our community made us stronger. People were dependent on each other.

Commies and capitalist are therefore equally idiots. And especially those who use the "the market will sort it out"- argument. The market will NOT sort it out.. They are both strategies who are bound to turn into each other, in everlasting cycles.

Evo
Mentor
Evo:

Im not sure you have read the article you posted a link to yourself? Have you?

The problem arises when people happen to plant the GM crops in africa. I do not know how well you are educated, but there seem to be some things you do not understand.

1. Naturally bred species of corn in different countries are adapted to those countries.
2. Corn, grown in Americas will not encounter the same conditions in Africa.
3. The corn may breed with the natural species, thus harming the yield.
4. A high food value is not the same as a high reproduction rate. The GM strain may be a better fertile breed, but still it gives lesser yields.

The problem with GM food sorts are at a entirely different place than the tummy. ;)

- The GM strains may harm a country's agriculture
- Some GM crops produce infertile seed, to keep their customers buying new seed every year ;).. This is immoral.
henxan, yes, I fully understand what I posted, it appears, however, that you do not. The corn is not intended for planting, it is for consumption. The link I posted addresses the fears that if the people try planting the corn instead of eating it, it could cross pollinate with indigenous varieties and make selling their local grain to the EU difficult, if not impossible (that was my opening sentence).

I suggest you go back and carefully read the entire link, all of the concerns and reasons are carefully spelled out.

Start with the 2nd paragraph in my link, and then tell us what it says. I understand that English is not your first language, so perhaps it is a misunderstanding on your part?

Here is paragraph 2 for those that might not be able to open the link

What concerns are being raised by countries receiving U.S. food aid about bio-engineered crops?

The governments of Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have expressed concern over the food and environmental safety of bio-engineered crops. U.S. food aid donations may contain bio-engineered corn and soybean products. The only whole grain in food aid donations would be corn. Their core concern revolves around fear of damaging their future agricultural trade with the European Union (EU). If U.S. donated maize kernels are planted by farmers accidentally or intentionally, the maize may pollinate local maize plants. This could lead to the new genetic material being introduced into the local maize varieties, including any crops grown for export or used in animal feed for livestock intended for export. These governments are concerned that once the current food deficit is overcome, and trade might resume, that European markets may bar their maize or maize-fed animal exports. Europe has approved several bio-engineered crop varieties for import, but requires labeling of products containing bio-engineered ingredients. There are no restrictions or labeling requirements for animals fed bio-engineered feed, though some European buyers may request that livestock be fed non-bio-engineered feed for a niche market. The governments of Mozambique and Zimbabwe have agreed to accept U.S. food aid shipments of maize on the condition that it is milled prior to distribution. Malawi has requested that maize donations be milled, but continues to allow distribution of whole grain maize due to limited milling capacity. Swaziland and Lesotho are accepting whole grain maize. Only Zambia continues to reject any U.S. food aid donations containing bio-engineered products

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Okey :).. May have misunderstood your writing :)..

Anyways, this seem to be a problem easily solved:
Process the maize(corn)! Crush it into maize flour and give it to them. Seems more economical even, sending only the usable part ;)..

And EU. The reason this is such a stupid debate is that people fear the food they consume. That has NOTHING to do with the problem of GM foods. Thats probably why I misunderstood. Because I thought you were arguing that stupid EU didnt want this in their tummys. Well, thats not the real consern. Its the other ramifications.

sorry evo!

Evo
Mentor
Okey :).. May have misunderstood your writing :)..

Anyways, this seem to be a problem easily solved:
Process the maize(corn)! Crush it into maize flour and give it to them. Seems more economical even, sending only the usable part ;)..

And EU. The reason this is such a stupid debate is that people fear the food they consume. That has NOTHING to do with the problem of GM foods. Thats probably why I misunderstood. Because I thought you were arguing that stupid EU didnt want this in their tummys. Well, thats not the real consern. Its the other ramifications.

sorry evo!
No problem. There are a couple of sections that deal with the milling issues also.

Lol.. They probably didnt want to mill it because they wanted to know how well the GM crops grew in africa :D

turbo
Gold Member
Milling protocols are a critical point and I was remiss in not touching on this. In Africa, seed stocks are treated as if they are potential crops, and people who can get their hands on sacks of whole grains would treasure them, not realizing that they might not be viable and they might not breed true if they germinate. The obvious answer is to process the whole grains before they are shipped so that they cannot be diverted into the seed stores of the recipient countries. We have equivalent concerns in Mexico and Central America where heirloom grasses and corns exist from which our modern corn (maize) was bred. It is important that we protect the integrity of the genetic materials in these plants.

DrClapeyron
If a nation endorses the protection of property rights, has good trade standing and a market for GM crops, market forces will dictate if farmers choose the seed or not. If the seeds are no good, the firm fails and another takes its place; if the seeds are good, the firm prevails and others suffer. The farmers have the choice, it is theirs to make.

This is a new technology not unlike any other; tractors, pesticides, herbicides and soil fumagants, I don't see why GM crops would be any different.