Global Policy Forum

Environmental Degradation and Agriculture

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Picture Credit: Oxfam/Zeresenay Berhane Mehar
Global climate change leads to an increased number of weather-related disasters such as floods and droughts, which cause food shortages and famine. However, agriculture not only suffers from environmental problems, it also contributes to them, through pollution, overgrazing, and release of greenhouse gases.










GPF Perspectives  l UN Documents | Articles


GPF Perspectives


A New Era of World Hunger? The Global Food Crisis Analyzed (July 2008)

This paper discusses the main causes of the steep run-up in global food prices and the resulting spread of hunger to nearly a billion people worldwide. Authors James A. Paul and Katarina Wahlberg conclude that biofuels and the agro-industrial approach to food production are the main culprits of the food crisis. The paper looks at a wide range of factors endangering nutrition for all, including population growth, unsustainable consumption, international trade policy and climate change. The authors argue for effective and generous short-term aid as well as longer-term transformation of the agricultural system to make it more justly distributive, resilient, and sustainable for the future. (Global Policy Forum/Friedrich Ebert Foundation)

UN Documents


The State of Land and Water Resources (2011)

According to a new report by UN FAO, business as usual, with some marginal adjustments, will not be enough to protect natural resources and feed a growing global population. The report identifies 25 percent of the world’s farmland as “highly degraded.” The UN agency is calling for an additional $1 trillion to be put towards overall investment in agriculture. (FAO)

Agriculture at the Crossroads: Guaranteeing Food Security in a Changing Global Climate (December 2010)

The UN Conference on Trade and Development has released a Policy Brief outlining the impact of climate change on agriculture. For many developing countries, the agricultural sector is extremely important. Even though a climate change can have serious detrimental consequences for food security, the agricultural sector can be part of a solution to mitigate negative effects. This brief asserts the need for a significant shift from conventional methods, to sustainable food production systems that improve the productivity of small-scale farmers. (UNCTAD)

IAASTD REPORT: Executive Summary of the Synthiesis Report (2009)

The IASSTD Report (International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development), addresses how to make better use of agricultural science, knowledge and technology in order to reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods and encourage sustainable development. This summary provides a brief outline of the main areas covered by the comprehensive report - bioenergy, biotechnology, climate change, and global trade. It also provides a link to where more documents related to the report, including the full report itself, can be found. (IASSTD)

Agriculture and Climate - The Critical Connection (December 2009)

This comprehensive report by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy demonstrates how agriculture can be the victim and the cause of climate change. Fertilizers, enteric fermentation, manure management, rice cultivation etc. affect the climate more than we expect. Local food production and bioenergy may not always sustain the world, depending on way they are produced.  But, well tailored food, agriculture and trade policies can help climate mitigation. The report proposes a number of  key policy recommendations. (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)

The Environmental Food Crisis (2009)

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a new report on the link between the environment and the food crisis. Environmental degradation and losses of cropland and biodiversity threaten food production. The report analyses the impact of ecocide on agricultural yield and the food system and calls for sustainable investments along with policy regulation of the food market. (UNEP)

World Food Summit Declaration: The Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy (June 5, 2008)

This declaration calls upon UN members and international agencies to implement short-, medium- and long-term solutions to the global food crisis. The text urges member states to increase aid to small-scale farmers in affected countries and raise investments for research to boost food production. World leaders failed to agree on the specific causes of the food crisis, including the role played by biofuel production. Instead, the declaration recommends further investigation into the impact that biofuel production has on food security. (Food and Agriculture Organization)

Agriculture and Development (April 2008)

An international research project consisting of 900 representatives from multilateral organizations, civil society, national governments, the private sector and scientific institutions has produced a report that evaluates the relevance, quality and effectiveness of agricultural knowledge, science and technology (AKST) on development. This summary of the International Assessment on Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report concludes that small-scale farmers and their traditional agricultural knowledge should play a greater role in production. Also, the report criticizes genetic modification (GM) in agriculture, pointing out that research on long-term effects of GM is lagging behind. The study warns that patenting genetic modifications undermines local farming practices and concentrates the ownership of resources. (GreenFacts)

Are We Approaching a Global Food Crisis? (March 3, 2008)

Global Policy Forum's Katarina Wahlberg warns that for the first time in decades, worldwide scarcity of food is becoming a problem. Increasing demand of cereals for food consumption, cattle feeding and in particular biofuel production, is driving food prices to record levels. Especially the poor, who spend a majority of their income on food, will suffer. To make matters worse, the food price hike is also affecting the amount of food aid available, as governments have not increased funding for the UN's World Food Programme. (World Economy & Development in Brief)

Right to Food and Bioenergy (2007)

This Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) brief analyses how bio- or agrofuel production infringes on The Right to Food. This human right obligates all signatories to implement a "twin-track approach to food security". Firstly, states must enable every person to feed him-or herself with dignity. Secondly, states must provide safety nets in cases where no other remedy against hunger exists. According to the FAO, countries set well-intended targets for agrofuel production but neglect the negative impact of these targets on food security. (Food and Agriculture Organization)

Livestock's Long Shadow (November 2006)

The global livestock sector provides livelihoods for one billion people but it generates a large amount of greenhouse gasses. It accounts for 65 percent of nitrous oxide release as well as large amounts of methane, both far more potent than carbon dioxide. In addition, livestock causes land degradation and water pollution. This report calls for a new policy framework that acknowledges and mitigate the deep environmental effect of livestock. (Food and Agriculture Organization)


Articles

2013 l2012 l 2011 |2010 | 2009| 2008 |2007 |2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2001 - 2002

2013


Why Food Riots Are Likely to Become the New Normal (March 7, 2013)

The Arab Spring was partly triggered by a huge rise in food prices, which have continued to remain high across the world. One elemental factor behind this escalation is poor crop harvests, caused by dramatic global climate changes. Rice yields have plummeted by 10-20% in the past ten years, which is indicative of the unsustainability of the global food system. Oil prices have also spiked, pushing the global economy into further crisis and also affecting the oil-dependent industrial food system. Speculation on food by investment banks further elevates the high prices, widening the gap between the worlds’ rich and poor. The inter-connectivity of climate change, economic difficulties, oil dependency and the global food crisis is glaring, and serves to foster social unrest. According to a new report by the Royal Society, if this cycle is not broken, we may “face the prospect of civilization collapse.” (Guardian)



Global agriculture relies heavily on pollination for crop production and is essential for around seventy-five percent of food crops across the world. A decline in wild insects caused by deforestation and climate change has sparked concern over food security among scientists. Biodiversity has irreplaceable value for food production, according to a recent worldwide study, which shows that wild pollinators are twice as effective in producing seeds and fruit on crops as honeybees. The study warns of the dangers of relying on a few managed species for pollination and underlines that further environmental degradation will have severe impacts on pollination systems. (Guardian)



A new report published by Tufts University entitled “Climate Impacts on Agriculture: A Challenge to Complacency” shows that recent research reveals a worrying outlook of climate change’s impact on global agriculture.  It challenges research from the 1990s, which painted a rather optimistic picture of the effect of global warming on crop yields, and argues that this earlier research has led to a complacent attitude in policy making.  It concludes that achieving reduction in emissions and a stabilization of the world’s climate is necessary in establishing a long-term solution for global agriculture. (Tufts University)



Washed Away: Malawi's Food Security Hit By Natural Disasters (January 22, 2013)

The Farm Input Subsidy Programme, introduced by late former president Bingu wa Mutharika in 2005, helped to significantly ease food insecurity in Malawi. Once heavily reliant on international aid, the country has produced a food surplus in recent years and has even become and exporter to neighboring countries. However, these initiatives have been unable to withstand the series of natural disasters that have hit the country, which now faces worrying food shortages. The maize harvest, the country’s food stable, was reduced by 7% last year due to intermittent droughts and rain. Recent extreme flooding has caused the displacement of 10,000 homes across ten districts.  The 2012/13 report by Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee shows that around 2 million households are suffering from severe food insecurity. The country has been forced to turn back to the international community for aid. These recent developments raise questions about the sustainability of what observers have dubbed “Malawi’s green revolution”. (TAP)


Global Food Crisis Will Worsen as Heatwaves Damage Crops, Research Finds (January 13, 2013)

Severe heat waves are having destructive effects on crop yields.  Unless significant steps to curb climate change are taken, global warming will deepen the food crisis.  A recent study published in Nature Climate Change indicates that if we continue on this road, wheat and soybean harvests will fall by up to 30% by 2050. Modern agricultural advancements have caused an increase in crop yields over the past 50 years; however, agro-industrial methods have heavily contributed to the release of greenhouse gases.  The study shows that if global carbon and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced crop damage will improve.  In light of this study, Ed Davey, the UK's secretary of state for energy and climate change, said that it is “vital we stick with the UN climate change negotiations and secure a global legally binding deal by 2015”. (Guardian)

2012

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Extreme Weather Hits the Poor First – and Hardest (October 28, 2012)

Extreme weather conditions in Sri-Lanka are affecting the country’s poor and deepening their struggle against poverty and hunger.  Sri Lanka is suffering from the effects of climate change, as the weather swings from flooding to droughts. Floods in the beginning of 2011 destroyed over 16,000 hectares of paddy fields and around ten percent of the early harvest and were followed by severe drought for most of 2012.  This unpredictability is threatening farmers’ harvests and livelihood, increasing food and water insecurity. Flash flooding also endangers the homes of the country’s poorest, many of whom live in slums on precarious land. (IPS)

U.S. Drought Exposes “Hydro-Illogical” Water Management (August 11, 2012)

While most articles on the current drought in the US focus on rising food prices, this IPS piece brings to attention the urgent need for better water management to address changing climate patterns that will continue to impact water supplies. Demands for water from industrial agriculture, expanding urban areas and increasing population have created severe pressure on water supplies. Instead of returning to the previous mismanagement of water supplies once the drought is over, rethinking the demand for water and strategizing for water conservation are necessary for a more sustainable future. (IPS)

US Farmers Urge Obama Administration to Suspend Ethanol Quota Amid Drought (July 30, 2012)

In light of the current drought, US farmers are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend this year’s quotas for corn ethanol production. Food security experts warn that widespread commodity speculation and the current government mandate, which calls for a production of 13.2 billion gallons of biofuels, will create a food price bubble in early 2013, a repetition of the global food crisis in 2008. If the US government does not take strong measures to reduce ethanol production and regulate speculators, the spike of food price will force many farmers out of business and create a cycle of worldwide food crisis. (Guardian)

Food Price Crisis Feared As Erratic Weather Wreaks Havoc on Crops (July 22, 2012)

Drought in the US and erratic weather driven by climate change in other food producing regions are threatening another global food crisis like those in 2008 and 2010. While current weather forecasts suggest that drought will continue, the US government maintains that the situation was not bad enough to reduce the government mandates for biofuels, driving the price of corn even higher. The rising prices of corn, soybeans and wheat, of which the US is the world’s largest exporter, will have a disproportionate effect on the poorest people, as many households in the global South spend around 75% of their income on food, compared to only 15% in the Western world. As people find it much harder to cope when multiple shocks occur in a short time span, social and political upheavals across the globe are likely to ensue. (Guardian)

Thai Farmers Fight ‘Global Warming Fines’ (July 10, 2012)

Since 2007, the environmental ministry of Thailand has been imposing fines on approximately 2,000 farmers for “contributing to global warming.” Many farmers have suffered bankruptcy due to heavy fines or lost their ancestral lands as government proclaimed them as national forests. While industry and energy production in Thailand accounts for about 75 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, the government only targets small-scale farmers for punishment on environmental damage charges. The unjust implementation of this environmental policy is violating community rights as well as the people’s traditional way of life in Thailand. (IPS)


Squeezing Africa Dry: Behind Every Land Grab is a Water Grab (June 11, 2012)

In Africa, land grabbing is concentrated near the continent’s largest river and lake systems such as the Nile basin and the Niger River. These water systems are being transformed by commercial agriculture and large-scale irrigation projects that accompany the land grabs. While one in three Africans endures water scarcity, powerful countries and corporations continue to sign land deals that give them wide-ranging control over African water. Neglecting the water rights and the traditional water management of local communities will aggravate the continent’s food supplies which are already put under threat by climate change. (Grain)

The Surprising Effect of Agriculture on Rising Sea Levels (June 5, 2012)

Many African governments and multilateral agencies consider groundwater a key resource for the future. Today, there is increased drilling of deep-tube wells to tap underground aquifers - for irrigation of industrial agriculture as well as water provision for industry, mining and human settlements. Freshwater “mining” of this kind has contributed to worldwide sea level increases by an average of a millimeter every year since 1961, surpassing the impact of melting glaciers. Further, deep-tube wells can result in the drying up of traditional hand-dug wells, reducing many communities’ access to drinking water.  Mined water eventually runs out, so even the benefits will be short-lived.  Serious social and environmental consequences are looming. (AlterNet)

Does India Manage its Water Like a 'Banana Republic?' (April 9, 2012)

Although more than 17 percent or the world’s population lives in India, the country has a mere 4 percent of the world’s renewable water resources. For the first time, India’s Ministry of Water Resources has organized a conference to examine falling water tables in the country. In an effort to save water, many countries—including India—have begun farming in other countries, preferring to use a host country’s resources, than to deplete their own. (Wall Street Journal)

In Bangladesh, a Battle between Farmers and Climate Change (March 27, 2012)

This Mother Jones article analyzes the various challenges posed by climate change to food security in Bangladesh. Rising sea levels are the biggest threat for farmers in the country. While the best way to deal with climate change is to implement policies that would address the causes of changing weather patterns, countries like Bangladesh have little power to do that on the world stage, as geopolitics trump environmental concerns. (Mother Jones)

Farmers to Battle Water Scarcity as Food Demand Grows, UN says (March 12, 2012)

Amid growing concerns about global food insecurity, many governments and private companies are scaling up their international investments in land. Acquiring rights to use land for agriculture in other countries implies the right to use their water, as well. But this intensive use of water for new agricultural projects has depleted the world's freshwater supply. Without new water policies, more than forty percent of the world's population will live in areas with high water stress by 2050. (Bloomberg)

The Global Water Grab (March 2012)

This article gives a good overview of the growing phenomenon of water grabbing, the taking of finite water resources by powerful actors for their own benefit. Like land, water is increasingly being described as a commodity, a “blue gold” sought after by countries and private investors worldwide. (Transnational Institute)

Study Links Ocean Acidification to CO2 Emissions (January 22, 2012)

According to scientists from the University of Hawaii, carbon emissions are contributing to rising ocean acidity levels, causing calcification rates of coral reefs and shells of mollusks to fall. Researchers say the steady increase in CO2 emissions threatens marine life and will likely have a negative impact on the food stock and livelihoods of those who depend on the ocean.  (Treehugger)

Organic Tomatoes in January: Sucking Mexico Dry (January 2, 2012)

Most US-bound organic tomatoes in January come from Mexico’s Baja Peninsula - a desert. Growing demand for year-round luxury organic produce puts stress on the Peninsula’s water table, making it impossible for small subsistence farmers to grow crops. Although organic farming is better than conventional farming, intensive organic agriculture is not sustainable and has devastating effects on the environment. The question becomes: is it worth eating premium tomatoes in January while systematically degrading a landscape? (Mother Jones)

2011


Leading Scientist Says Agroecology is the Only Way to Feed the World (December 27, 2011)

According to scientist and co-chair of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science & Technology (IAASTD) report Dr. Hans Herren, the world must consciously shift from producing cheap commodities with large ecological, social and economic footprints to quality food. Investment in eco-efficient agricultural practices that will be resilient in the face of climate change, resource scarcity and growing demand is key if we want to feed a growing global population, says Dr. Herren. What we need least is another “Green Revolution.” (Organic & Non-GMO Report)

Land Grabs Leave Africa Thirsty (December 2011)

This report by the Oakland Institute examines the implications of land grabbing in Africa for the fragile Niger, Nile and Omo river systems. It documents the ways in which the Ethiopian government is leasing land to foreign investors and planning to irrigate 3.6 million hectares of land. This project, when completed, would amount to a ninefold increase of the country’s total water usage for agriculture in 2002. This massive withdrawal of water from the Nile will have devastating political, economic and social impacts for people living downstream. The report calls on governments to stop prioritizing huge agricultural projects and start investing in sustainable water management systems (such as water harvesting, storage and small-scale irrigation) that would require low investment costs and limit environmental degradation. (Oakland Institute)

The Road to Progress or the Road to Ruin? Debating Development in Bolivia (October 20, 2011)

After marching over 300 miles over 2 month in Bolivia, protestors have successfully convinced the government of Eva Morales to stop highway construction through the Isiboro Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPINIS), which is home to 64 indigenous communities. The Bolivian government authorized construction of a Brazilian-funded road through the reserve in the name of development and regional integration earlier this year and was met with opposition from concerned citizens around the world. Critics of the plan believed the project would lead to deforestation, the exploitation of natural resources and destroy the livelihoods of thousands of indigenous persons. (Food First)

Three Paths for Agriculture at Global Climate Talks (October 14, 2011)

This article by GPF Senior Fellow Doreen Stabinsky provides a rare behind-the-scenes look at the UN Climate Change Conference in Panama in October 2011. According to Stabinsky, the meeting failed to make any substantative progress on the issue of agriculture as most of the time was devoted to procedural maneuvering by countries present. Stabinsky comments on the reluctance of some developing countries to adopt a work program on agriculture that was put forward by a handful of developed countries, specifically the US, Canada and New Zealand. Stabinsky states that the direction of a work program and the adoption of a text will set the agenda for the pressing issue of agriculture in climate talks for years to come. (IATP)

Who Owns the Right to Fish? Manchester United? (August 5, 2011)

Small fishing boats, which employ large numbers of fishermen, comprise close to 75% of the UK fishing fleet but hold only 4% of fishing rights. Essentially, the public right to fish in the UK has been privatized: fishing rights are traded in a loosely regulated, non-transparent quota market for private profit. This means the vast majority of fishing rights have been given to a small minority of large vessels that are less environmentally friendly than smaller boats. Jeremy Percy, chief executive of the New Under Ten Fishermen's Association, argues it is illogical to force these experienced and sustainable fishers to pay for their continued right to catch fish. Privatizing fishing quotas in the UK is just another example in the popular and worrying trend of privatization. (Guardian)

EU Fishing Fleets Discarded £2.7bn of Cod, Claims Report (August 2, 2011)

A study by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) has calculated that between 1963 and 2008, EU fleets exceeded quotas by 2.1m tons. The EU has imposed quotas to limit the exploitation of fisheries; however, rather than adopt sustainable fishing practices, fleets ignored quotas, which led to £2.7bn of cod being discarded. On July 13, 2011 the European Commission revised the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and announced that discarding fish would be considered illegal as of early 2013. Researchers at NEF are optimistic that the EU discard ban will help the fishing sector, but believe fishing quotas should be set by scientists, according to scientific limits, not politicians. Failing to reform fisheries practices will not only harm the ocean ecosystem but waste vital food sources. (Guardian)

Famine We Could Avoid (July 21, 2011)

The UN has declared parts of Somalia to be in famine; a direct effect of the most recent drought that has taken hold of the Horn of Africa. According to journalist John Vidal, climate change is however only partly to blame for the ensuing humanitarian disaster. Decades of wars, including the US’ ‘War on Terror’, have stripped people of their assets and abilities to secure a decent standard of living. Causes of the current situation have had foreseeable consequences and now command that Britain, the EU, the US and Japan help the people of the Somali Peninsula to adapt to the changing and ever-harsher conditions, says Vidal. (Guardian)

Growing Water Deficit Threatening Grain Harvests (June 20, 2011)

Many countries are suffering from aquifer depletion as they drill deep to increase food production. Aquifers are layers of water-bearing saturated rocks from which groundwater can be extracted. Overpumping aquifers temporarily inflates food production, enabling farmers to expand their harvest, but creates a food bubble that is bound to burst when water supplies shrink. Water tables are falling globally at unprecedented rates and most irrigated areas have peaked in India, China, and the US, the three biggest grain-producing countries. According to Lester R. Brown, unless countries address the growing water deficit, food bubbles will burst and create unmanageable food shortages, posing an imminent threat to global food security and political stability. (IPS)

China Told to Reduce Food Production or Face 'Dire' Water Levels (June 28, 2011)

After conducting studies on the aquifers in the North China plain, China’s main wheat growing region, leading groundwater expert Zheng Chunmiao warns that China must tightly regulate water usage. Zheng states that the aquifers are emptying at an alarming rate and although there are restrictions in place to slow the rate of water depletion, demand must be severely reduced and China should look towards the unpopular option of importing food. Failure to protect the dwindling supply of water will result in a “dire situation” in the next 30 years. (Guardian)

A Steward for our Oceans (June 21, 2011)

Overfishing, pollution, and climate change are collectively fueling biodiversity loss. This report by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) provides an analysis on the scope of marine life extinction and has found that the oceans are deteriorating at an alarmingly fast pace. The IPSO panel warns that five mass extinctions in the past were all associated with problems being recorded today. In order to save the oceans, there must be a push to create “well managed” protected areas and a severe reduction of pollutants including greenhouse gas emissions. (Guardian)

Fish Farming is Answer to Increasing Global Meat Demand, says Report (June 14, 2011)

According to a report by Conservation International and WorldFish Centre, the world must look towards aquaculture to meet the growing demand for animal products. With an expanding middle class population in Asia and widespread hunger, it is of paramount importance that we find sustainable solutions to the global food crisis. The study suggests that the answer lies in farming fish and algae since its environmental impact is lower than raising livestock. (Guardian)

Farming Needs ‘Major Shift’ as Food System Fails, UN Farming Agency Says (June 13, 2011)

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s new report highlights that agricultural productivity increases have depleted agriculture’s natural resource base, adversely affecting future potential. Furthermore, the increase in food production has not decreased the number of undernourished people in the world, proving that the current system is already failing. As population growth will require a 70% increase in world agricultural productivity, more consideration needs to be given to alternatives such as eco-system based farming practices to create a more sustainable and effective system. (Bloomberg)

Climate to Wreak Havoc on Food Supply, Predicts Report (June 2, 2011)

A report by the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has identified parts of south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa as areas most vulnerable to have their food supplies hit by climate change. Using global climate models, researchers have found that populations in these food-insecure regions are in grave danger of starvation. Skeptics are still slow to address issues of climate change and believe the study has not made a strong enough connection between climate change and food insecurity. (BBC)

When the Nile Runs Dry (June 1, 2011)

Foreign land grabs of fertile plains in Africa strain the region’s water resources. Ethiopia and Sudan, two popular nations for land acquisition, together possess three-fourths of the Nile River Basin. Large agribusinesses operating in these countries use up most of the arable land along the Upper Nile. Due to heavy usage of water upstream, the water flow to Egypt is becoming increasingly scarce and its food supply is in danger. The author of this article suggests that governments must ban land grabbing, adopt new efficient irrigation technologies and educate women order avoid conflict. (New York Times)

Food Prices Driven up by Global Warming, Study Shows (May 5, 2011)

With a booming global population and a rise in temperatures, there is an urgency to create new farming mechanisms that can meet a growing demand for food. Continuing to farm with current seed varieties that are ill-suited for changing weather patterns will contribute to rising food prices, pushing a record number of people into poverty and hunger. Research shows potential for adapting farming to climate change but remains unproven. (Guardian)

Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious? (April 27, 2011)

While fruits and vegetables have become bigger in size, richer in color and more resistant to pests, they have less nutritional value today than crops fifty years ago. Studies indicate that modern agricultural efforts to create higher yields have led to soil depletion and consumers are paying the price. In order to get healthier produce rich in vitamins and minerals, there needs to be an effort to maintain healthy soil. (Scientific American)

Tsunami Speeds 'Terminal Decline' of Japan's Fishing Industry  (April 25, 2011)

The Japanese fishing industry, responsible for depleting world fish stocks, was dealt a devastating blow from the tsunami, which destroyed Japan’s fishing fleet. Japan is already the world’s largest importer of fish and analysts are predicting that it will import even more now that its fishing fleet is in shambles. (Bloomberg)

China's Weather Forecasters Reluctant to Confirm Rumors of Rain  (February 23, 2011)

China is experiencing its worst drought for 60 years. The world's largest wheat producer needs heavy rain to avoid a crop failure that would impact global food prices. Climate change, increased demands on agriculture, industry and urban centres put pressure on already scarce water supplies. Pollution is also contaminating food such as grain and wheat. At least 10 percent of China's farmland contains heavy metals, cadmium and other toxins, with 12 million tonnes of grain already contaminated. (Guardian)

La Nina-Induced Drought 'To Affect Millions" (February 18, 2011)

The La Nina weather phenomenon causes serious drought conditions for many East African countries, sparking food security concerns. In Northern Kenya two people reportedly died of starvation. Due to the lack of rain, the Tanzanian government implemented nationwide rationing of hydro-powered electricity. According to the UN, people in Somalia need humanitarian aid urgently due to civil unrest and food insecurity. The combination of climate change and environmental degradation results in less food and more people living in poverty. (IRIN)

UN Food Agency Issued Warning on China Drought (February 8, 2011)

China's major agricultural regions are affected by the worst drought in 60 years, threatening crop production and drinking water supplies. Any decision by its government to import large quantities of food will further increase high food prices. The International Rice Research Institute says that the country's grain situation is critical to the entire world. China produces more wheat than any other nation, and is the world's largest importer of soybeans, making them very important to the world food market. (New York Times)

Fish Consumption Reaches All-Time High (January 31, 2011)

Fisheries support the livelihood of over 540 million people and fish products are the world's most traded food commodity.  According to the State of the World's Fisheries and Aquaculture report global wild food stocks have declined and fish farming cannot keep up its recent growth. The Report examines increased efforts to enforce trade measures and against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and the need for sustainable management of fisheries, which is often overlooked by policy-makers.(UNFAO)

The Arab Crisis: Food, Energy, Water, Justice (January 26, 2011)

In many parts of the Arab world, an angry populace is facing high unemployment and rising food prices threatens social cohesion. According to the World Bank, Arab countries import more than half their food; their economies depend on oil prices while rising energy prices make food more expensive. Land and water resources are diminishing and climate change is undermining agricultural production. This article examines the linkage between environmental degradation, resource depletion and political systems in states including Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan and Egypt.(Open Democracy)

Food Worries Rise in China (January 19, 2011)

People need food to survive. Food security is the basis of national security. The right to food requires that people have incomes allowing them to purchase food, as well as sustainable food systems. China has made significant social and economic progress in the past three decades, however shrinking arable land and environmental degradation threatens the ability of the country to maintain current levels of agricultural production, according to UN Special Rapporteur, Olivier de Schutter. (IPS)

Prices Soar on Crop Woes (January 13, 2011)

The US Agriculture Department reduced its estimates for global harvests of key crops, including corn and soy beans, due to tightening food supplies and rising food prices. Supply constraints reflect the dry weather in South America and Russia and floods in Australia. Another problem is the use of crops by the biofuel industry, which in the US enjoys extensive government incentives. A rising population is putting unsustainable pressures on resources such as water, food and energy, which could cause social and political instability and irreparable environmental damage.(Wall Stret Journal)

Bees in Freefall as Study Shows Sharp US Decline  (January 3, 2011)

The bumblebee is an important pollinator of many agricultural crops around the world, including most fruits, vegetable and nuts as well as coffee, soya beans and cotton. Ninety per cent of the world's commercial plants are dependent on pollination by bees to increase yield. These insects, along with other pollinators, have been in serious decline in the last few decades. There is concern about the impact this could have on global food production. UN conservation strategies may help to mitigate further losses. (Guardian)

2010

Prices Soar on South America Drought (December 30, 2010)

Changes in climate are increasing crops prices and raising concerns about global food supplies.  Rising temperatures have reduced yields in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, which affecting the world's food market. This could mean still higher food prices and wider hunger. Changing weather is also affecting farmers' expectations. Martin Lorenzo, a subcontractor northern in Buenos Aires says that some farmers have not had enough rain to plant their soybean crops. Some farmers have already given up on their corn crops and allowed cattle to graze in the fields instead. (The Wall Street Journal)

Foreign Land and Human Rights (October 28, 2010)

The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at NYU school of Law recently released a report on state and corporate land investments in Africa and South Asia. The report show how corporate involvement has devastating effects on human rights as well as the environment. Scandinavian and Gulf State corporations are damaging local water supplies in Tanzania and displacing villages in Pakistan. The corporate commitments to the local communities are in most cases vague or non-existant. The report calls for higher standards of transparency and accountability. Without regulation, human rights will continue to be violated by corporate powers. (Center for Human Rights and Global Justice)

Farmers in India Pay the Ultimate Price for Their Debt (September 1, 2010)

It is called a "suicide epidemic." After taking out high risk loans and investing in genetically modified seeds, farmers in India sink into debt. Eventually the economic strain becomes overwhelming and so far, 200, 000 farmers have ended committed suicide, leaving their families with an even greater burden to bear. The advertisement for the genetically modified seeds promises a better harvest and hence a higher income. What it doesn't mention is the amount of pesticides that the sowing demands, which subsequently drives up the total cost. The Indian government must support and encourage organic farming instead. (Media Global)

Humans Versus Animals in a Conflict Zone (August 4, 2010)

Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo serves as the latest reminder that wildlife conservation cannot be achieved in isolation from local communities. In this conflict zone, most people live on less than $2 day and natural resources and livelihoods are inextricably linked. Whilst the Congolese Wildlife Authority has made some effort to win support from local people through the construction of seven schools and a hydroelectric plant, traditional livelihoods are threatened as local populations are excluded from the protected areas. Such exclusion not only compromises conservation efforts, but also means that the poverty alleviation and human development strategies that could be derived from sustainable co-management of natural resources, go unrealized. (IRIN)

UN Urges Global Move to Meat and Dairy-free Diet (June 2, 2010)

Increases in economic growth have led to a rise in the consumption of agricultural goods. Rising consumption leads to an increase in the amount of the world's resources dedicated to the production of meat and dairy. A UN report says that with the world's rising population the current pattern of meat and dairy consumption is unsustainable and will have a greater negative impact on the environment than fossil fuels. According to the report, a global shift towards a more vegan diet is necessary. (Guardian)

MALI: Farmers Restore Forests (May 7, 2010)

Communities in the interior delta of the Niger River are demanding local bylaws to protect their restored forests and local ecosystem. Forests in the 40,000 square kilometer delta region were tarnished by drought and desertification and are only now slowly regenerating. For these communities the benefits of forest protection are primarily economic. Fisheries, a main source of revenue for the region, benefit greatly as the restored forests retain the wetlands where many fish breed. (IPS)

Water Wisdom (March 16, 2010)

India is feeling the effects of climate change - monsoons have failed and two thirds of the country is affected by drought. Food security is at serious risk. Making matters worse are the methods of farming implemented since the green revolution which deplete groundwater reserves. The chemical monocultures promoted by the green revolution use ten times more water than bio diverse ecological farming. The author promotes bio ecological farming as the solution to the crisis. Sustainable, organic agriculture, she says, will increase climate resilience, food security and water security. (CounterCurrents)

Severe Food Shortages in Parched Eastern Region (March 3, 2010)

Thousands of people have fled drought-affected eastern Syria. Those that remain are struggling to survive on limited food stocks. According to a WFP report 1.3 million inhabitants are affected by the food shortage. The report says the population will remain in "dire need" of food, agriculture and other assistance until mid-2010, when crops are expected to mature due to improved rainfall patterns. (IRIN)

Reaching Tipping Point: Climate Change and Water Shortages closing in on Tajikistan and Central Asia (February 17, 2010)

In Tajikistan, 1.4 million people are food insecure. This Oxfam report links the food crisis to the effects of climate change.  Though last year's good rain brought some relief, rural Tajikistani communities have previously suffered three consecutive years of drought, failed harvests and one of the harshest winters on record. The long-term trends are clear and ominous: rainfall is decreasing, temperatures are rising, and so is food insecurity.  The report makes important recommendations on the community, national and international levels. (Oxfam)

Q&A: The Two Faces of Agriculture (February 15, 2010)

This interview with UNEP Chief Achim Steiner discusses the potential for agricultural practices to maintain, rather than diminish, biodiversity. Farmers can be excellent managers of natural resources, Steiner explains, but they need to be encouraged.  Current methods of industrial agriculture are very inefficient and threaten global food security.

Farmers Act on Climate Change (January 20, 2010)

Last year there was a significant increase in rainfall in Burkina Faso. This caused soil erosion, desertification, and great damage to crops. Disappointed that the Copenhagen Climate Conference did little to help the poor, the Burkina Faso Government (along with local farmers) is investigating how to adjust farming techniques so they are resilient to weather conditions.(IRIN)

Corporate Agribusiness Helps Scuttle Climate Justice (January, 2010)

US agriculture accounts for 20% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions. At the Copenhagen climate negotiations, American agribusinesses argued that intensive agricultural production and investment in biotech crops and agrifuels would reduce development pressure on marginal lands and so present a "green" solution to climate change. This article argues these approaches are doomed to failure. Instead, the author calls for commitment to small scale sustainable organic agriculture, dedicated US funding and a confirmed timeline for greenhouse gas emission cuts. (CommonDreams)

2009

 

Fisheries and Aquaculture: Multiple Risks from Climate Change (December 2009)

A new Food and Agriculture report predicts that climate change will threaten fish yield worldwide.  Experts expect that changes in water temperature, salinity and acidity will present new problems for millions of people who rely on fish as their primary food source. Particularly vulnerable to these changes are those who live in small island states and developing nations and rely on fish for 50% - 80% of their protein intake. The report makes clear just how vital healthy oceans are for food security and well being. (FAO)

Food Security and Agricultural Mitigation in Developing Countries (November 2009)

Food crisis and climate change are challenging agriculture. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has released a new report, which points out that farming significantly contributes to the green house gas emissions while suffering from global warming at the same time. One of the key factors to mitigate climate change and meet food demand is the restoration of organic soils. The report calls for a more holistic vision that looks beyond narrow and unsustainable solutions. (FAO)

Tackling the climate crisis from the ground up (October 2009)

Industrial agriculture plays a key role in the climate crisis. Agro industry heavily uses fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides, which damage natural soil fertility. According to this report from GRAIN, agro industry depletes soil, which results in up to two third of the excess carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. GRAIN sharply criticizes this highly concentrated food system and calls for a fundamental policy change and the return to small-scale and ecologically friendly farming. (GRAIN)

Asian Water Supplies Require Substantial Overhaul (August 18, 2009)

About five billion people are expected to live in Asia by 2050. Governments' inability to modernize irrigation systems in Asian countries could lead to a regional food crisis, as the region will have to double its food production. Sweden, which currently holds the European Union presidency, invites countries to consider global warming when reviewing their agricultural policies, as millions of small farmers complain about the insufficient government-run irrigation systems. (World Watch Institute)

Livestock-Related Greenhouse Gas Emissions (February 2009)

In recent years consumption of livestock products has increased rapidly (demand for meat and milk is set to double by 2050). Research shows that increasing livestock production accounts for a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions. This paper addresses how to balance the nonnegotiable need for food and the need to reduce rising methane and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. (Food Climate Research Network)

2008

Impact of Climate Change and Bioenergy on Nutrition (2008)

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) identifies climate change, high food prices and biofuel production as significant obstacles to global efforts to reduce malnutrition. Changing weather patterns have increased the number of natural disasters. And, people affected by disasters are especially susceptible to malnutrition because they depend on food aid, which may not provide adequate calories or sufficient nutrients. This summary of IFPRI's report warns that poor management of water resources and increased population growth have reduced access to water and deepened food insecurity among vulnerable people.

Another Inconvenient Truth (June 25, 2008)

Supporters of biofuels claim that the fuels allow poorer countries to cut carbon emissions and reduce their dependence on imported oil. But Oxfam says that biofuel production is not solving, but worsening the climate and energy crises. Biofuel production is also responsible for 30 percent of the increase in global food prices that has dragged 30 million people into poverty. Oxfam calls upon rich countries to dismantle subsidies for biofuels. (OXFAM)

The World Food Summit: A Lost Opportunity (June 10, 2008)

The World Food Summit declaration neglects to address the root causes of global food insecurity. World leaders failed to reach a solution on biofuel production, even though the International Food Policy Research Institute calculated that production of biofuel is responsible for 30% of the rise in food prices. Furthermore, the declaration urged governments to reduce trade restrictions, even though trade liberalization is one of the main causes of the food crisis. (OpenDemocracy)

Secretary General's Address at High-level Conference on World Food Security (June 3, 2008)

At the UN Food Summit in Rome, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made several short- and long-term recommendations to address the food crisis. Although he recommended implementing social protection programs and supporting smallholder farming, Ban also endorsed more controversial measures such as a Green Revolution in Africa and minimizing trade restrictions. Despite widespread criticism of biofuels, the Secretary General neglected to acknowledge how biofuel production leads to food shortages. (UN News)

Priced Out of the Market (March 3, 2008)

This New York Times editorial discusses the human cost of the "rich world"'s subsidized appetite for biofuels.When it seemed that global food supply might run out in the past, food production grew to meet demand. This time it might not be so easy, with the demand for biofuels diverting food into energy for cars, rather than human beings. (The New York Times)

Norway's 'Doomsday Vault' Holding Seeds of Survival in Case of Disaster Is Buried in Arctic (February 25, 2008)

This article reports on the opening of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The Arctic vault will serve as a back up for existing seed banks and contains over 10 million specimens from "virtually every country" in the world. The Global Crop Diversity Trust, which oversaw the creation of the vault, states that it will preserve biodiversity in the face of climate change, war and natural disasters. (Daily Mail)

Europe Takes Africa's Fish and Boatloads of Migrants Follow (January 14, 2008)

This New York Times article discusses the issue of overfishing along northwest Africa's coast. Major fish populations are collapsing, though it is unclear who should take the blame; the heavily subsidized fishery fleets from the European Union or the region's own governments. This article points out that all too often the long-term benefits of protecting biodiversity take a backseat when governments stand to earn much-needed millions by allowing foreign exploitation of their natural resources. (The New York Times)

2007

War Has Historic Links to Global Climate Change (November 19, 2007)

Scientists at Georgia Institute of Technology have found that there is a clear link between changes in world temperatures and warfare. Both increases and decreases in temperature may cause a fall in food crop production and a subsequent rise in food price, and consequently conflict for access to resources. Future global warming is particularly worrying to the scientists. (New Scientist)

Biofuels' Great Green Hope or Swindle (October 20, 2007)

This Inter Press Service article highlights many of the problems associated with biofuels. Some researchers argue that biofuel production is a step in the wrong direction as it hardly reduces carbon emissions. Producing biofuels also drives up food prices and increases conflict over food resources. Governments both in the US and Europe are increasing subsidies for biofuel production, however, and critics are concerned about this trend as governments seldom phase out subsidies. (IPS)

Unpredictable Weather Patterns, Diversion of Grain for Biofuels, Contribute to Growing Food Shortages (September 28, 2007)

The author of this YaleGlobal article expresses concern over a looming global food crisis. Food crop harvests are falling while consumption is increasing, and the author fears this will lead to social and political unrest. Also worrying is the increasing share of agriculture devoted to biofuels. Combined with growing consumption, environmental degradation, watershortages and urbanization and massive agricultural subsidies in rich countries this could spell disaster. Further, climate change leaves poor equatorial countries extremely vulnerable to weather changes and seasonal variation. (YaleGlobal 360)

UN Special Rapporteur: Impact of Biofuels on the Right to Food (August 22, 2007)

In this report to the General Assembly, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler evaluates the impact of biofuels on the Right to Food. Ziegler labels the sudden, ill-conceived, rush to convert food into fuel a "recipe for disaster". The Rapporteur calls for a five-year moratorium on biofuel production to review production technology and to create regulatory structures to protect against negative environmental, social and human rights impacts of biofuel production. To eradicate competition between food and fuel, Ziegler urges member states to look into the possibility of deriving biofuels solely from agricultural waste and non-food crops. Food prices would then remain stable, and both producers and consumers could benefit from biofuels.

Global Food Crisis Looms as Climate Change and Population Growth Strip Fertile Land (August 31, 2007)

Scientists predict that rapid climate change together with a growing world population will cause a global food crisis. Such a crisis, worsened by poor farming and deforestation, may cause conflicts over scarce resources. According to the UN, land degradation is one of the biggest environmental challenges, destabilizing societies, lowering food security and increasing poverty. Countries producing biofuels in response to energy security fears, adds to the food crisis as crops for biofuel replace food crops. (Guardian)

Climate Change Forcing Indian Farmers to Commit Suicide (July 30, 2007)

An investigation carried out by ActionAid found that climate change and the deterioration of social and economic conditions in some densely populated Indian regions have made hunger worse amongst the poor and pushed people to commit suicide. The study focuses on significant changes in the weather conditions during the last four to five years which have adversely affected farming. This OneWorld article argues that, compared to 30 years ago, rainfall has now decreased immensely, and that the government has failed to respond adequately as "it has not created safeguards to protect farmers" and guarantee food security.

Climate Change: Africa's Deadly Weather Roller Coaster (July 6, 2007)

Menghestab Haile of the WFP's Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping unit explains why climate change will impact the world's poor and hungry the hardest in years to come. He states that Africa has been on a "weather roller coaster" for a few years, with severe droughts on one part of the continent and brutal floods in other parts. With such variations in climate, malaria could become more widespread. Menghestab also adds that the WFP implements emergency measures when disasters strike but it does not tackle climate change in the long-term. (World Food Program)

Agrofuels: Towards a Reality Check in Nine Key Areas (July 2, 2007)

This report on the impact of agrofuels argues that the rush for "biofuels" is already causing serious damage. Far from being sustainable, agrofuels have not shown to alleviate global warming; they actually threaten to accelerate it by destroying rainforests and other ecosystems to make way for agrofuel plantations. Additionally they compromise biodiversity, fuel human rights violations and promote an intensified industrial agriculture, encouraging the production of GM crops, and posing a serious threat to food sovereignty. (Transnational Institute)

The Great Biofuel Hoax (June 25, 2007)

This Indypendent article examines the myths surrounding today's biofuel boom. Biofuel supporters claim that because fuel crops are renewable, they are environmentally friendly and can reduce global warming, while promoting rural development. But biofuel corporations have tremendous market power and this, together with the political weakness of governments in regulating their activities, is a formula for environmental disaster and growing hunger in the global South. (Indypendent)

Biofuels Could Lead to Mass Hunger Deaths (June 14, 2007)

Biofuels have become increasingly popular in recent years. But use of biofuels can create food shortages by reducing land needed to grow crops. UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Jean Ziegler, accused rich countries of "total hypocrisy" for using biofuels to decrease their oil dependency, warning that hundreds of thousands of people could die as a result of their biofuels use. (Reuters)

Farming Will Make or Break Food Chain (May 2, 2007)

Global warming, food and timber exports, and the thirst for biofuels are among the biggest threats to biodiversity, reports this Inter Press Service article. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a UN-commissioned initiative to study ways to prevent environmental degradation, warns that the loss of just a few species may "result in a collapse" of the Earth's ecosystem, which could worsen the effects of climate change and diminish the global food supply. (Inter Press Service)

Crops Feel the Heat as the World Warms (March 16, 2007)

The Carnegie Institution and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have found that warming temperatures over the past two decades have reduced major cereal grain crop production by 40 million metric tons per year. The study further "demonstrates that this decline is due to human-caused" global warming, thereby proving the "real effects" of climate change on the global food supply.

Climate Report Warns of Drought, Disease (March 10, 2007)

The second report this year of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that, within the next century, global warming will cause increased global food and water shortages, "mass extinction" of polar bears and other animals, and a rise in tropical diseases like malaria. Warning that "things are happening faster than we expected", the IPCC reports that only immediate action can prevent "major impacts on human welfare". (Associated Press)

Southern Africa Braces for Poor Harvests

The World Food Programme (WFP) warns that "erratic weather patterns" in Africa may devastate agricultural output and lead to severe food shortages. The failure of donor countries to fully fund the WFP "which currently assists 4.3 million people in southern Africa alone" further threatens food security in the region.

2006

War Climates (October 23, 2006)

In this TomPaine opinion piece Jeffrey Sachs makes a clear connection between climate-induced drought since the 1980s in Darfur, extreme poverty, and the present conflict in the region. Sachs argues that "crises that are fundamentally ecological in nature are managed by outdated strategies of war and diplomacy".Climate change will increasingly pose security threats across the world, as it causes or exacerbates huge ecological challenges, among them the looming worldwide water crisis. Arguing for instance that "Darfur needs a water strategy more than a military strategy", Sachs urges the world's governments to focus their resources to such underlying challenges, and suggests that all governments establish ministries of sustainable development.

The Freshwater Boom Is Over. Our Rivers Are Starting to Run Dry (October 10, 2006)

With water tables falling, rivers drying out and salt pollution of groundwater rising across the world, global fresh water resources become increasingly scarce. In this Guardian article, George Monbiot cites results from a British Met Office study showing that climate change will significantly increase the severity and duration of droughts by 2100. He warns that the ensuing exacerbation of water scarcity will cause a global food deficit entailing "almost unimaginable future misery". With no viable adaptation alternatives, "averting this catastrophe" of global drying, requires a 60 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2030, Monbiot argues. (Guardian)

Need for Water Could Double in 50 Years, UN Study Finds (August 22, 2006)

This New York Times piece reports on a UN study warning that water scarcity may lead to violent conflict, drying rivers, groundwater pollution and the clearing of grassland and forests. Since irrigation and dam-building prove difficult and time-consuming, some experts suggest that governments and donors should give farmers small scale methods such as tanks and pumps, alongside much needed credit, crops, and roads. With growing population and increasing consumption, the already damaging effects of water shortages could further limit poor countries' ability to feed themselves.

A Third of the World Population Faces Water Scarcity Today (August 21, 2006)

At the August 2006 World Water Week in Stockholm, researchers presented initial findings from the "Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture" carried out by 700 experts over five years. In 2000, researchers had predicted that water scarcity would affect one third of the world's population by 2025. The study finds that this occurred already in 2005. Furthermore, the study argues that the extensive use of water in agriculture bears much of the responsibility for the world's water crisis, and that the key to resolving it lies in increasing agricultural "water productivity", especially in poor countries (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and World Water Week)

2005

One in Six Countries Facing Food Shortage (June 30, 2005)

Thirty-four countries are now experiencing droughts and food shortages, and their number could increase. Droughts could become semi-permanent if climate change persists, increasing global food shortages. Scientists predict that global warming will cause the dunes of the Kalihari desert to spread, shifting sand across huge tracts of Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe and western Zambia. (Guardian)

Global Warming Will Increase World Hunger (May 27, 2005)

With strong evidence that significant changes in the global climate will occur over the next century, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned in a report that global warming will pose a risk to global food security. Climate changes will include increased flooding and "extreme weather events" as well as drier climates and more droughts for other parts of the world. (Reuters)

State of the World 2005 Trends and Facts Cultivating Food Security (January 2005)

This excerpt from a World Watch Institute report warns that despite technological advancements, food insecurity is on the rise. In the second half of the 1990s the number of hungry people increased to nearly two billion people. Not only do "obvious" factors such as conflicts and diseases worsen the situation, but environmental degradation caused by pollution and large scale farming do as well. The report argues that if farmers rely on their environmental knowledge and consumers buy locally produced goods, they can make progress on food security.

2004

Global Food Prices a Warning Beacon (November 23, 2004)

Food security and sustainable development experts warned that food demand will rise 60 percent by 2030, a growth that will jeopardize the global food production system. As falling water tables and rising temperatures will restrain food production expansion, the world may face a global rise in food prices "within the next few years"? (Tierramérica)

Fears of Famine as Locusts Advance Across W. Africa (Aug 8, 2004)

A devastating swarm of locusts is descending on Western Africa. In a single day, the swarm can consume more food than 2,500 people, which will thrust the region into a state of emergency food shortages. Though only $9 million of relief have been pledged, experts expect the total damage to exceed $80 million. (Reuters)

Bangladesh Needs Food for 20 Million (August 4, 2004)

For the past 6 years, drastic monsoons and flooding have covered over 60% of Bangladesh. The weather crisis is now affecting economic productivity, and the death toll continues to climb. In response, UNICEF launched a mission to raise $134 million for humanitarian relief. (Guardian)

2003

Climate Change Already a Killer (October 1, 2003)

This article reports that global warming causes 160,000 deaths each year from diseases and starvation, following extreme weather conditions such as droughts and floods. The Environment News Service calls on Russia to promptly ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which could contribute to halting climate change.

Hunger Poverty and Biodiversity in Developing Countries (June 2003)

With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the United Nations has committed itself to halve the proportion of people suffering from chronic malnutrition by 2015. In assessing the MDGs, this paper stresses the importance of recognizing the links between food insecurity, poverty and bio-diversity loss, and says bio-diversity loss is a root cause of hunger. (Future Harvest)

Bizarre Weather Ravages Africans' Crops (January 7, 2003)

Scientists believe that Africans suffering from food shortages across the continent may represent some of the first victims of climate change, as highly unusual weather patterns have left fields barren. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the effects of global warming will continue to intensify water shortages, hunger, and disease. (Washington Post)

2001-2002

8.6 Million Central Americans Face Hunger (September 30, 2002)

The World Food Program reports that a series of droughts alternating with floods has left millions of people in Central America vulnerable to food shortages. (Tierramérica)

Don't Shove Biotech Down Africa's Throat (September 14, 2002)

United States officials pressure African countries facing hunger epidemics to accept genetically modified (GM) grain in the form of aid. However, in trying to force GM corn onto the plates of African children, the U.S. government is less concerned about their hunger than about expanding the market for biotech seed. (Yellow Times)

World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030 (August, 2002)

UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that hunger will still be a big problem in 2030. Despite slower population growth and lower demand for food, environmental problems and food insecurity need urgent attention.(FAO)

Footprints and Milestones: Population and Environmental Change (November 7, 2001)

UN Population Fund calls for universal education, basic health care and reproductive rights for women to combat poverty and rapid population growth. The report states that by 2050, 4.2 billion people will be living in hunger, out of a total projected world population of 9.3 billion.

 

 

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