Food security | See also Biodiversity.

‘Just 30 crops now sate almost all of humanity’s nutritional needs. But monoculture carries great risks. A single disease or pest can wipe out swathes of the world’s food production, an alarming prospect given that its growing and wealthier population will eat 70% more by 2050. The risks are magnified by the changing climate. As the planet warms and monsoon rains intensify, farmlands in Asia will flood. North America will suffer more intense droughts, and crop diseases will spread to new latitudes. Pests are on the move, too. Since the 1960s, unwanted beasties, spared harsh winter frosts, have moved polewards at an average of around 3km (2 miles) a year. The world’s seed banks co-ordinate their work through the International Seed Treaty, which came into effect in 2004 and has been signed by 135 countries and the European Union. It identifies 35 food crops as so essential to global food security that their genetic diversity should be shared widely.’ | Source: ‘Growing pains,’ The Economist 12th September 2015, p16-17

‘I take issue ‘with the assertion that intensive farming is the means of feeding people or saving biodiversity. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Our planet already produces more than enough food for everyone, if only we didn’t waste it. The extent of waste is great, from the simple act of throwing food away, at home or at the supermarket, to letting it rot in developing countries for want of low-tech assets, such as decent grain stores. One of the biggest causes of food waste is often overlooked: the cereals, soya and fish that are fed to factory-farmed animals, which return a fraction of the protein and calories in the form of meat, milk and eggs. The cereals alone fed to industrially reared animals could feed the equivalent of three billion people. The food system today is like a leaky bucket; it wastes half of what it produces. If the animals were reared on the land, instead of intensively on factory farms, the resulting produce would swell the world’s food basket.’ Source: Philip Lymbery, Compassion in World Farming, in Letters, The Economist 5th October 2013, p16.