The world produces enough food and agricultural products that are more than sufficient to satisfy the great demand at least for a number of decades ahead of it. However, the world is still faced with a serious crisis for food. People all over the world have been affected in one way or the other by a shortage of food especially caused by climate change. The main objective of this essay is to explore the food situation in the world, and critically analyze the root causes of food insecurity in the world and the efforts made to deal with food shortage and issues arising from poor food management.
Current World Food Situation
Currently, the world food situation is being defined by some new driving forces. These include climate change, globalization, urbanization, energy prices, and income growth as they are responsible in transforming food production, consumption, and markets. According to FAO, there is a possible “food price shock” if the current prices continue to soar. Food shortage and high prices led to riots in more than 30 countries in 2008. The current food situation does not look very promising in some several countries especially caused by floods or droughts (Environment News Service and Maffeo).
The security of food in the world depends on the available food supply, the income of the targeted population, accessibility of food, food consumption rate, as well as the amount that can be stocked for future use. Data in the recent conference show that about nine hundred million people lack enough food and some literary starving with those malnourished approximated at two billion. There is a call for continuous innovation in the food production industry to meet the rising global demand for food. If the crop area and traditional methods remain the same then the production of food will be so deficient in comparison with the needs by 2050. There must be a strategy of increasing the global production of food by about 25% and more in order yo feed nine billion people by 2050 using the same land area.
There has been a decreasing trend of consumer confidence in safety based on consuming foods that have been genetically modified. Extensive legislation meant to monitor marketing tactics since biotechnology became prominent. This is because of claims that resistant or tolerant genetically modified maize causes a lot of health problems. However, some criticize this claim arguing that those associating health and environmental problems to GM technology base their claims on poor science. Moreover, lack of adequate nutrition in large cities has led to dying of children from diseases like diarrhea. It also hinders proper brain and body development which irreversibly limits children’s ability to grow, learn, and to grow into productive adults (Maffeo).
Causes of World Food Problem
The available water currently decreases at an alarming rate. This warns that there is not going to be enough water on the agricultural land that is needed for producing enough food in order to feed the population of 9 billion people by 2050. Also, food prices have skyrocketed in the past few years making it difficult for average earners to afford a three-course meal. These effects are witnessed in developing countries that rely heavily on imported food, such as North Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Biotechnology which has been identified to be a major solution of the food crisis is also a major cause of the looming problem. Rising demand for protein-heavy food will lead to 505 increases in food demand by 2030 due to supply constraints in developing countries.
Despite laying the blame of health problems on biotechnology, there are also many disadvantages associated with lack of technology. This can be food loss and waste especially in undeveloped countries which cannot afford the resources to acquire proper or adequate harvesting techniques. The food practices in developing and even in undeveloped countries show a loss or a waste of almost one third of food produced meant for human consumption. It is evident in the U.S. that allowing GM use will benefit massive production of food although public health will be at stake. For instance, GMO’s has been relentlessly blamed for $190 billion in medical expenditure for obesity (Maffeo). In addition, the diversion of grains for other purposes such as bio-fuel which are non-food is on the increase. This reduces both the amount of food and also drives increased price volatility.
Technology in Food Production
There are many assumptions that increased agricultural and food production can be a remedy for curbing world food shortages. However, with the introduction of agricultural technology, there is greater production if land and financial resources are available. The latest issue of the American Medical Association (AMA) resolution denies scientific justification of bioengineered food’s special labeling. AMA argues that genetically engineered (GE) species of crops developed from recombinant DNA are not more dangerous than traditional plant crops. This view has been readily supported by the World Health Organization, European Commission, and Food and Agricultural Organization of the U.N. among so many other non-governmental organizations and National Science Academies. In November 2012, the Californians will go on the ballot concerning law to mandate labeling cigarette-like food which has been derived from genetically engineered plants. Proponents demand information choices be made by consumers on the food they eat. To drum up support, they promise a technology that is subject to “FrankenFoods” demagoguery which is a mechanism of provoking fear in them (Sexton).
In 2003, it was declared inquiry by a research academy representing 140 countries that during that time, genetically modified foods (GMOs) were not safe for consumption. California can tolerate only about 0.5% of the genetically modified composition in a GE free food. With this high standard of purity, farmers will have to incur a greater cost for separate equipment to produce GE plants crops to avoid contamination of other operations that are non-GE. With the high cost of contamination, farmers will stop production of GE crops which will discourage the effort of scientists in agricultural biotechnology research. If firms in this GE’s most aggressive country shelve their potential innovations which obviously provide life-saving solutions, then there will be diminished consumer choices due to a hiking of food prices (Sexton).
The introduction of new technologies will only impact the increase of food and agricultural production if there is an evolution of appropriate technology within the available framework of agricultural methods of production. This is achieved through first analyzing the operation of traditional and social institutions as well as economic systems. Using modern and intensive technologies to maximize yields has one difficult in that there must be imported capital which is a very scarce resource in countries stricken with poverty. As a result, despite a registered growth in the produce from agriculture, most of it will be used to pay for the capital that was imported. Hence, the imported technology is not entirely sufficient, but there are costs to be met besides alleviation of hunger.
Through technology, a greater volume of food produce lead to food affordability so that the masses can access it and also allow safe consumption of all kind of food. This is an advantage, especially to those in remote areas where refrigeration are not important. Due to the sale of high volume production, it is easier to afford processes for food preservation such as vacuuming. Poor farmers can be helped by providing them knowledge such as doing drip irrigation and soil management. This also includes working hard researchers to provide new seed varieties to improve their yield (Maffeo).
Remedy for World Food Problems
Scientists are giving warning of a catastrophic food shortage unless the world switches to a vegetarian diet completely. This will involve the use of technology to increase water supply to a climatically unpredictable world. Protein rich foods from animals require a greater amount of water than vegetarian food. International Water Management Institute (IWMI) suggested that for farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia invest in their agricultural sector using simple technology and small pumps instead of trying to develop expensive and large-scale projects of irrigation (Sexton).
Technology has made an effort to improve the content of nutrients in stable crops which will help to eliminate malnutrition that is prevalent in developing countries. This technology is mean to produce extreme climate tolerant field crops which will support life in some of the world’s poorest countries (Sexton). It is time for low-income countries to upscale their production as well as marketing through proper organization and diversification of their small resources. For developed countries such as the U.S., inability to produce cheap food at volumes higher to meet the food demand, companies produce versions that are formulated to compensate for this lack (Maffeo).
World food problems are as diverse as their solutions. The main causes of these problems are surging population growth, decreasing amount of land for crops, lack of resources and technology sufficient to deal with food deficit, and also poor methods of consumption. The problems partly contribute to starvation, poor physical health, and poverty. To curb the current trend of these problems, scientists are working in order to improve technology and increase food production as well as provide solutions to the negative impacts of poor food management.