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Feeding humanity through global food trade


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The recent intensification of international trade has led to a globalization of food commodities and to an increased disconnection between human populations and the land and water resources that support them through crop and livestock production. Several countries are not self-sufficient and depend on imports from other regions. Despite the recognized importance of the role of trade in global and regional food security, the societal reliance on domestic production and international trade remains poorly quantified. Here we investigate the global patterns of food trade and evaluate the dependency of food security on imports. We investigate the relationship existing between the trade of food calories and the virtual transfer of water used for their production. We show how the amount of food calories traded in the international market has more than doubled between 1986 and 2009, while the number of links in the trade network has increased by more than 50%. Likewise, global food production has increased by more than 50% in the same period, providing an amount of food that is overall sufficient to support the global population at a rate of 2700-3000 kcal per person per day. About 23% of the food produced for human consumption is traded internationally. The Water Use Efficiency of food trade (i.e., food calories produced per unit volume of water used) has declined in the last few decades. The water use efficiency of food production overall increases with the countries’ affluence; this trend is likely due to the use of more advanced technology.
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Feeding humanity through global food trade
Paolo D’Odorico1, Joel A. Carr1, Francesco Laio2, Luca Ridolfi2, and Stefano Vandoni2
1Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, 2Dipartimento di
Ingegneria Ambientale, DIATI, Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy
Abstract The recent intensification of international trade has led to a globalization of food commodi-
ties and to an increased disconnection between human populations and the land and water resources
that support them through crop and livestock production. Several countries are not self-sufficient and
depend on imports from other regions. Despite the recognized importance of the role of trade in global
and regional food security, the societal reliance on domestic production and international trade remains
poorly quantified. Here we investigate the global patterns of food trade and evaluate the dependency of
food security on imports. We investigate the relationship existing between the trade of food calories and
the virtual transfer of water used for their production. We show how the amount of food calories traded in
the international market has more than doubled between 1986 and 2009, while the number of links in the
trade network has increased by more than 50%. Likewise, global food production has increased by more
than 50% in the same period, providing an amount of food that is overall sufficient to support the global
population at a rate of 2700– 3000kcal per person per day. About 23% of the food produced for human
consumption is traded internationally. The water use efficiency of food trade (i.e., food calories produced
per unit volume of water used) has declined in the last few decades. The water use efficiency of food pro-
duction overall increases with the countries’ affluence; this trend is likely due to the use of more advanced
1. Introduction
Global food security depends on a number of rapidly changing factors that control the availability of
and access to food commodities. In the last three decades research on food security has emphasized the
importance of factors controlling the access to food [e.g., Sen, 1981]. More recently, however, scientists
have started to focus again on food sufficiency and availability [e.g., Foley et al., 2011; Tilman et al., 2011;
Cassidy et al., 2013]. There is a growing concern that the limited resources of the planet will soon limit our
ability to keep up with the increasing food demand by human societies [e.g., Godfray et al., 2010]. While
the demand for food is steadily increasing and is competing with the rapidly growing need for agricultural
products by other sectors such as biofuel production [e.g., Godfray et al., 2010], the supply of food crops
is reaching a plateau [Ray et al., 2012]. On the demand side, demographic growth and changes in diet are
placing unprecedented pressure on the food production system [e.g., Tilman et al., 2011; Cassidy et al.,
2013; Hermele, 2014]. The global population has increased by 1 billion every 12– 14 years since the 1960s
[U.N. Population Division, 2012] and has been paralleled by an increase in food availability resulting from
the use of industrial fertilizers, irrigation technology, and new cultivars [Boserup, 1981; Erisman et al., 2008].
Interestingly, food consumption has not grown linearly with the population size as the per capita demand
for food has increased. The portion of the diet consisting of fats and proteins tends to increase with the
economic development of emerging countries [Delgado, 2003], a phenomenon known as “Bennett’s
law” [e.g., U.K. Office for Science, 2011]. In particular, the consumption of meat and other animal products
has been reported to increase with the per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and the gross national
income (GNI) [Tilman et al., 2011; U.K. Office for Science, 2011]. Because several kilocalories of forage or
feed are needed to produce 1 kcal of meat [Pimentel et al., 1973], this increase in the consumption of ani-
mal products is further enhancing the human pressure on croplands and rangelands [Cassidy et al., 2013].
On the supply side, after the extraordinary increase in crop yields in the second half of last century (i.e.,
during the “green revolution”), the rates of agricultural production are expected to reach a plateau [Ray
et al., 2012; Brown, 2013]. Likewise, it has been argued that capture marine fisheries might be at the verge
of a sudden decline [Coll et al., 2008], while the ongoing increase in fish production from aquaculture, is
Key Points:
• We reconstruct the global network
of food trade
• We determine the dependency of
global access to food on
international trade
• We evaluate the water use efficiency
of food production and trade
Supporting Information:
EFT2_42_Auxillary Materials.docx
Corresponding author:
P. D’Odorico,
and S. Vandoni (2014), Feeding
humanity through global food trade,
Earth’s Future,2,
Received 16 APR 2014
Accepted 5 AUG 2014
Accepted article online 12 AUG 2014
This is an open access article under
the terms of the Creative Commons
License, which permits use and distri-
bution in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited, the use
is non-commercial and no modifica-
tions or adaptations are made.
D’ODORICO ET AL. © 2014 The Authors. 1
Earth’sFuture 10.1002/2014EF000250
partly sustained by feed inputs from terrestrial sources [Duarte et al., 2009; Gephart et al., 2014]. Moreover,
recent U.S. and E.U. policies have mandated the use of a prescribed fraction of energy from renewable
sources [EISA, 2007; E.U., 2009]. The consequent escalating use of crops for biofuels has started to com-
pete with food production [Hermele, 2014]. Further, the intensification of climate extremes is predicted
to increase the variability and uncertainty of crop yields [IPCC, 2013], thereby contributing to food price
volatility [FAO-OECD, 2011]. The picture emerging from these analyses is that, in the near future, the rates
of global food supply might not meet the escalating demand.
At smaller scales, however, many regions are already in conditions of food shortage due to a local imbal-
ance between production and demand (see Supporting Information, Figure S1) [Fader et al., 2013; Suweis
et al., 2013]. The food security of these societies relies on the importation of food products from other
regions. It has been argued that the intensification of international trade has been one of the major fac-
tors contributing to changes in food supply in the past few decades [D’Odorico and Rulli, 2013]. Global
trade has been found to account for 12% of the human appropriation of the net primary productivity and
24% of the global ecological (i.e., land) footprint [Erb et al., 2009; Weinzettel et al., 2013; Meyfroidt et al.,
2013]. The extent to which global food security depends on international trade, however, remains poorly
understood [Porkka et al., 2013]. It is unclear which region of the world is most benefiting from the ongo-
ing intensification of food trade and how trade differentially affects food security in developed, emerging,
or developing countries [MacDonald, 2013].
There is also some concern that food production might not grow indefinitely due to limitations imposed
by land and water resources. Because of the limited potential for sustainable expansion of agricultural
land, for most regions of the world, an increase in food production requires the closure of the yield gap
in underperforming agricultural lands with strong potential for increased yields [Foley et al., 2011; Mueller
et al., 2012]. With nitrogen fertilizers becoming available in almost “unlimited” amounts through industrial
synthesis [Erisman et al., 2008], water and suitable land remain the major limiting factors for food produc-
tion. It is therefore important to evaluate the water use efficiency (WUE) of food commodities (kcal/L) and
investigate whether trade contributes to a more effective use of freshwater resources.
Here we investigate the global patterns of food trade, identify regions of self-sufficiency and trade depen-
dency, and evaluate how the reliance on trade has changed in the last few decades. To that end, we recon-
struct the global network of international food trade (in kilocalories of food traded/year) and investigate
its temporal dynamics. We also relate the food calorie network to the virtual water network [Carr et al.,
2012, 2013] and evaluate the WUE of the traded commodities.
2. Methods
TradedataweretakenfromtheFAOSTATdatabase[FAO STAT , 2012], which reports the trade flow among
countries for a number of commodities between 1986 and 2010. In this study, a set of 153 countries (only
countries with population >1 million and for which production data were available) and 251 major food
commodities were analyzed (see Supporting Information, Table S1). Each commodity was associated with
a country-specific water footprint (m3/t)takenfromthestudybyMekonnen and Hoekstra, [2012] and a
caloric content (kcal/t) taken from the FAO “Nutritive Factors” database [FAO STAT , 2012]. The trade of each
commodity was then converted into fluxes of both virtual water (VW) and food calories by multiplying
the mass of the exchanged commodity by its water footprint and caloric content, respectively. The vir-
tual water network was then constructed considering each country or territory reported in the FAOSTAT
database as a network node connected to other nodes by links representing trade relationships. In the
VW network the strength of each (directed) link was calculated as the sum of the VW fluxes associated
with all commodities traded along that link [e.g., Carr et al., 2012, 2013]. Likewise, the food calorie network
was determined by calculating for each link the total calories traded as the sum for all the commodities
exchanged through that link.
Production rates were available for each crop type from the FAOSTAT database [FA OS TAT , 2012]. For each
country, the total amount of water used for food production was calculated by multiplying the water
footprint of each commodity by the corresponding yield, and then by adding up these values for all the
food commodities included in this study [Carr et al., 2012]. The same approach was used to calculate the
calories of the food commodities produced by each country. The analysis of food calorie production and
D’ODORICO ET AL. © 2014 The Authors. 2
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of the associated consumption of virtual water is affected by problems of double accounting that were
addressed as follows.
In the case of secondary products which are products derived from primary crops (e.g., bread is a
derived product of wheat; meat and milk can be derived products of feed)— caution was used to avoid
double accounting of the water resources required for their production. If a country produces both wheat
and bread, and part of the wheat is used to make the bread, by adding the water footprint of both we
would count part of the water consumption twice. Likewise, a similar problem of double accounting can
emerge from the calculation of the calories of food produced by each country.
Because the water footprint of primary crops is much higher than the water consumption of processing,
all secondary products were not included in the calculation of the water footprint and caloric content of
food, except for animal-based food products such as meat, milk, or eggs, which were treated as primary
products, while all the products derived from them were treated as secondary (Supporting Information,
Table S1). The animal-based products can be either from feed-fed animals or from livestock raised in
rangelands. While feed is included in the crop data reported by FAOSTAT, forage from rangeland and
pasture is not. Therefore, in this study we considered both a production, P, that included crops used as
feed and other uses, and a production, P, obtained subtracting from Pthe amounts used as feed and
other nonfood uses; we included (both in Pand in P) all the animal-based food products that are here
treated as primary (Supporting Information, Table S1) but we excluded all the secondary products. Thus,
while Pis the total food production (with no double accounting of primary and derived products), Pis
the food production for human consumption. The fraction of food production that is available for human
consumption can be calculated as 𝛽=P/P(Supporting Information, Table S2). The feed (seed and “other
uses”) data were obtained from the Food Balance Sheets which were available only until the year 2009
[FAO STAT , 2012].
Because a similar issue of double accounting does not emerge in the case of trade, in the analysis of the
global patterns of trade we did not remove the secondary products. If a country produces and exports
bread made with wheat imported from another country (or produced domestically), the net calorie and
virtual water export would be calculated as the difference between bread exports and wheat imports
(or the whole bread exports if domestic wheat was used) without incurring into any double accounting.
Therefore, while secondary products were not removed from the trade data, we considered two types
of trade, namely, the total trade Tand the portion of trade for direct human consumption, T,whichwas
calculated as T=𝛽T. It has been noted that food production and trade can be analyzed and interpreted
in more than one way [Giampietro and Mayumi, 2000]. While Tis the total food trade for human con-
sumption, from a different perspective global food security depends also on the trade of feed, which is
included in T. The water use efficiencies of production (P)andtrade(T) were then calculated for each
country as the ratio between that country’s total calories of production (P)ortrade(T) divided by the
corresponding water footprint. The calculation of country-specific water use efficiencies should have used
crop water requirements for the country of provenance of each commodity. However, it is not possible
to bring the calculations to this level of accuracy because the available data do not provide information
on the amounts of imported goods used for food, feed or other uses. To develop a consistent trade net-
work throughout the study period (1986– 2010), countries that have changed in recent years (e.g., the
unification of Germany or Yemen, the splitting of Czechoslovakia or the disintegration of Yugoslavia and
the Soviet Union) were dealt with by considering their more aggregated (i.e., unified) configuration, as
described by Carr et al. [2013].
3. Results
Globally, 80% of the human diet (measured in terms of caloric content) is accounted for by the 13 prod-
ucts reported in Table 1. More than 50% of the global diet is contributed by wheat (20%), rice (16%),
maize (13%), and soybean (8%), which account for 61% of the global production of protein for human
intake. These values refer to 2009 and include only food for direct human consumption (i.e., excluding
feed or crops for nonfood uses). The analysis of global trade data shows that 80% of the food calories
that are traded are contributed by 15 products, which account for 52% of the protein trade for human
consumption (Table 2). In 2009 more than 50% of the global food trade (in caloric content) was accounted
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Tab le 1 . The Major Food Commodities That Explain 80% of the Total Food Calories Produceda
1986 2009
Food Cal Protein Food Cal Protein
Commodity % Cal Cum. % Prot. Cum 𝛽WUE Commodity % Cal Cum. % Prot Cum. 𝛽WUE
Wheat 23.7 23.7 19.7 19.7 0.78 1.321 Wheat 20.4 20.4 17.2 17.2 0.81 1.321
Rice (milled equivalent) 18.4 42.1 11.6 31.3 0.95 0.970 Rice (milled equivalent) 16.1 36.5 10.4 27.6 0.88 0.970
Maize 9.7 51.9 10.7 42.0 0.33 1.298 Maize 12.8 49.3 12.7 40.2 0.40 1.298
Soy beans 5.3 57.2 14.2 56.3 0.97 0.356 Soybean 8.0 57.2 20.5 60.8 0.96 0.356
Sugarcane 4.7 61.9 0.7 57.0 0.97 0.752 Sugarcane 5.4 62.7 0.8 61.6 0.98 0.752
Pig meat 3.4 65.3 3.0 60.0 1.00 0.834 Pig meat 3.8 66.5 3.2 64.8 1.00 0.834
Sugar beet 3.3 68.6 1.48 61.5 0.96 2.465 Rape and mustard seed 3.1 69.6 2.9 67.8 0.91 1.515
Barley 2.6 71.3 5.52 67.0 0.26 1.342 Potatoes 2.1 71.8 1.1 68.8 0.86 1.782
Potatoes 2.5 73.7 1.24 68.3 0.74 1.782 Barley 2.1 73.8 2.5 71.3 0.38 1.342
Sorghum 1.9 75.6 2.1 70.4 0.46 0.674 Poultry meat 1.9 75.7 2.5 73.8 0.99 0.616
Rape and mustard seed 1.6 77.2 1.5 71.9 0.93 1.515 Vegetables, other 1.8 77.5 0.8 74.7 0.94 0.465
Groundnuts (shelled eq) 1.4 78.7 1.5 73.5 0.99 0.918 Sugar beet 1.7 79.2 0.7 75.4 0.94 2.465
Bovine meat 1.4 80.0 3.7 77.3 1.00 0.141 Groundnuts (shelled eq) 1.5 80.7 1.6 77.0 0.96 0.918
aFor each of these commodities we also report their contribution to the total production of protein for human consumption (expressed as a % of the total)
and the cumulated contribution. These values are based on production data (P) for direct human consumption (i.e., excluding secondary products, feed
and other nonfood uses); 𝛽is the fraction of food production that is available for human consumption. Water use efficiency (WUE) is expressed in kcal/L.
for by wheat (22%), soybean (13%), palm oil (8%), and maize (7%). Interestingly, there have been no major
changes in the main food products traded for direct human consumption between 1986 and 2009, except
for an increase in the trade of palm oil. The amount of food calories shown in Figure 1 is not trivial when
compared with other major rates of energy consumption and trade sustaining the “metabolism” of our
societies: globally, the caloric content of food trade is about 13% of the global crude oil trade, while the
caloric content of all food products for direct human consumption is about 75% of the global consump-
tion of electric energy, and 10% of the total energy consumption— including energy used for power
generation, heating, transportation, and industrial uses, both from fossil fuels and renewable sources
(Supporting Information, Table S3).
There are some regional differences in the major food commodities (Supporting Information, Table S4):
more than 50% of the food calories produced in 2009 were from rice (32%) and wheat (22%) in Asia; soy-
bean (33%) and sugarcane (24%) in South America; maize (33%) and sugarcane (22%) in Central America;
maize (41%) and soybean (19%) in North America; wheat (36%) and barley (10%) in Europe; and wheat
(50%) and barley (14%) in Oceania. While the major food commodities produced in Asia, Africa, Europe,
Central America, and Oceania remained overall the same between 1986 and 2009, important changes
occurred in South America, where the production of soybean has increased, concurrently with an increase
in soybean exports from Brazil and Argentina to China.
The total amount of food produced (kcal/y) has steadily increased over the past three decades (Figure 1a).
Likewise, the total amount of food traded has also increased (Figure 1b). The increase in production is not
only due to the rise in food demand associated with demographic growth. Globally, the amount of food
produced per capita (Figure 1c) has also increased, which suggests the occurrence of some important
dietary changes with an average increase in calorie uptake per capita and, possibly, an increasing trend in
food waste. Interestingly, over the past three decades the fraction of food for direct human consumption
that is traded in the international market has increased from 15% in 1986 to 23% in 2009 (Figure 1d). Such
an increase is contributed by food from both plant and animal sources. Thus, presently, about one fourth
of food production is traded, implying that roughly one fourth of our current reliance on food is through
international trade.
D’ODORICO ET AL. © 2014 The Authors. 4
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Tab le 2 . The Major Food Commodities That Explain 80% of the Total Food Calories Tradeda
Trad e
1986 2009
Food Cal Protein Food Cal Protein
Commodity % Cal Cum. % Prot. Cum. 𝛽WUE Commodity % Cal Cum. % Prot. Cum. 𝛽WUE
Wheat 28.5 28.5 24.4 24.4 0.78 1.321 Wheat 22.4 22.4 16.1 16.1 0.78 1.321
Soybean 10.2 38.6 21.8 46.2 0.97 0.356 Soybean 13.3 35.6 27.6 43.7 0.97 0.356
Sugar (raw equivalent) 9.1 47.7 0 46.2 0.99 1.970 Palm oil 7.9 43.5 0 43.7 0.61 1.878
Maize 8.0 55.8 9.9 56.3 0.33 1.298 Maize 7.5 51.0 0 43.7 0.33 1.298
Rice (milled equivalent) 4.4 60.2 0 56.3 0.95 0.970 Sugar (raw equivalent) 7.2 58.2 0 43.7 0.99 1.970
Palm oil 3.8 63.9 0 56.3 0.61 1.878 Rape and mustard seed 4.3 62.6 3 46.9 0.93 1.515
Soybean oil 2.8 66.8 0 56.3 0.92 0.480 Rice (milled equivalent) 4.1 66.6 0.1 47.0 0.95 0.970
Barley 2.3 69.1 6.9 63.4 0.26 1.342 Soybean oil 3.0 69.6 0 47.0 0.92 0.480
Rape and mustard seed 2.0 71.1 1.6 65.0 0.93 1.515 Pig meat 2.2 71.8 0.6 47.6 1.00 0.834
Sunflower seed oil 2.0 73.1 0 65.0 0.94 0.933 Sunflower seed oil 2.2 74.0 0.0 47.6 0.94 0.933
Cassava 1.9 75.0 0 65.0 0.59 1.081 Barley 2.1 76.1 2.8 50.4 0.26 1.342
Fats, animals, raw 1.8 76.7 0 65.0 0.45 2.195 Cocoa beans 1.4 77.6 0.1 50.5 0.99 0.081
Sorghum 1.5 78.3 1.8 66.8 0.46 0.674 Oilcrops, other 1.2 78.8 0 50.5 0.94 0.387
Oilcrops, other 1.4 79.7 0 66.8 0.94 0.387 Rape and mustard oil 1.2 79.9 0 50.5 0.87 1.461
Rape and mustard oil 1.4 81.0 0 66.8 0.87 1.461 Poultry meat 1.1 81.0 1.2 51.7 0.99 0.617
aFor each of these commodities we also report their contribution to the total trade of protein for human consumption (expressed as a % of the total) and
the cumulated contribution. These values are based on trade data (T) for direct human consumption (i.e., excluding secondary products, feed and other
nonfood uses); 𝛽is the fraction of food production that is available for human consumption. Water use efficiency (WUE) is expressed in kcal/L.
This global scale analysis hides some important regional differences. From 1986 to 2009, food production
has increased mostly in South America (121%), Africa (81%), Asia (58% increase), and North Amer-
ica (57%), while yields in Europe have been stagnating (Figure 2). This pattern is in agreement with a
global assessment of the yield gap (i.e., the difference between actual and maximum potential crop yields)
based on agricultural production data for the year 2000 [Mueller et al., 2012]: while Western Europe had a
small potential for crop yield increase, Africa, South and Southeast Asia, South America, and— to a lesser
extent—North America still had relatively large yield gaps.
To place these numbers in the perspective of global food security we calculated the number of people
who could be fed by the food that is produced and traded. To this end, a balanced diet of 2700 kcal/d
(including waste [Porkka et al., 2013]) was used as a reference value [e.g., Falkenmark and Rockstrom, 2006;
Cassidy et al., 2013]. By considering this average caloric content, this analysis does not account for the
composition of the diet (e.g., the proportion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), nor for the geographic
differences in the current rates of food consumption. Nevertheless, these baseline calculations show
how, on average, the food production globally would be sufficient to feed more than 9.4 billion people
(Figures 1c and 3). This estimate is overall consistent with a recent study by the FAO that showed how
the current rates of food production would be sufficient to feed about 12 billion people with a lower
baseline diet of 2400 kcal/d per capita [FAOS TAT , 2012]. Likewise, the number of people who could be
fed by the traded food accounts for about 2 billion people (Figure 3). Thus, with the current rates of food
production (and without accounting for food waste), the global food production should be sufficient to
meet the demand of the world’s population (Figure 3). However, even though access to food is recognized
as a human right [U.N., 1948], today more than 10% of the global population is still undernourished [FAO,
When performed at the country scale, this analysis allows us to relate food production to the number of
people it could sustain, and to compare this number to the actual population of that country. Figure 4
shows a global map of caloric self-sufficiency, based on a diet of 2700 kcal/d per capita. As noted, this
D’ODORICO ET AL. © 2014 The Authors. 5
Earth’sFuture 10.1002/2014EF000250
Figure 1. (a) Total amount of food traded (kcal/y); (b) global food production (kcal/y); (c) global food production per capita
(kcal/y/cap); (d) percentage of global food production that is traded (%). Thin lines refer to food production and trade for direct
human consumption (Pand T). Thick lines refer to food production, P, including feed and other uses (but excluding secondary
products) and food trade, T, including secondary products, feed and other uses. In panel (d) the thin and thick lines coincide.
Figure 2. Global food production by regions. Based only on P, i.e., primary
plant and animal products available as food for direct human consumption (i.e.,
excluding feed and other uses).
analysis, however, does not account
for the impact of diet composition on
food self-sufficiency. Protein deficiency
may lead to physiological unbalance,
particularly in young children, and is a
major cause of malnutrition in sub-
sistence societies, whose diets are
often poor in proteins and relatively
rich in carbohydrates [e.g., Cuny, 1999].
Examining the diet in terms of total
caloric intake, however, is an impor-
tant first step in the assessment of
food security. The effect of trade on
food security is shown in Figure 4:
different shadings are used to indi-
cate whether the per capita calorie
requirement of the reference diet
(2700 kcal/d) can be met considering
food commodities available through
domestic production and trade. We
denote this condition as “sufficiency.”
D’ODORICO ET AL. © 2014 The Authors. 6
Earth’sFuture 10.1002/2014EF000250
Figure 3. Number of people who could be fed by the global food production
with an average balanced diet of 2700 kcal/d (thick line); global population
(dashed line) and number of people who could be fed by the food traded in the
international market (thin solid line). Based on production and trade data (P
and T) for direct human consumption (i.e., excluding secondary products, feed
and other nonfood uses).
North Africa and the Middle East are
overall not self-sufficient but rely on
trade to meet their food requirements
(Figure 4). Conversely, most of the
Sahel and East Africa are not suffi-
cient (Figure 4) despite their net food
imports (Figure 5). The United States,
Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia,
Malaysia, France, and Australia are
both major food producers [Porkka
et al., 2013] (Supporting Informa-
tion, Figure S1) and major exporters
(Table 3); despite their substantial
exports, these countries maintain their
sufficiency state. India, Pakistan, and
China are also major food producers
(in absolute terms, Supporting Infor-
mation, Figure S2). Despite its net
imports (Figure 5), India has remained
“barely sufficient” throughout the
study period (Figure 4). Conversely,
Pakistan is not self-sufficient and
relies on trade to maintain access to
a barely sufficient amount of food
(Figure 4). The case of China is different because it is a net importer despite its self-sufficiency (Figure 4)
and its excess in food availability (Supporting Information, Figure S1). Similarly, most of Western Europe
is self-sufficient and a net importer. On the other hand, in a number of African countries as well as in
Afghanistan and Mongolia food imports are not strong enough to provide food sufficiency (Figures 4
and 5). Trade does not seem to induce a loss in self-sufficiency (except for Kazakhstan in 2000), nor an
increase in water stress in countries that are not self-sufficient. At most, we have found that a limited
number of self-sufficient countries [Zambia (2000), Bolivia (2000), and Indonesia (2010)] became barely
self-sufficient as an effect of trade (Figure 4). This suggests that trade does not seem to erode the global
food security.
The increasing globalization of food in the course of the past three decades is reflected not only in the
rising volume of traded food calories, but also in the increase in the interconnection of the global food
calorie network (Figure 5). The total number of trade links in the network has increased from 8004 in 1986
to 13,945 in 2009 while the average number of links per country has more than doubled (Figure 5c). There
have also been some changes in the major contributors to net food exports (Table 3): while in 1986 the
United States contributed to 26% of the food placed on the global trade market (evaluated in terms of net
trade flows), by 2009 it had decreased to 17%. This decline in the predominance of the United States as a
net food exporter was paralleled by a similar decline of France and the emergence of Indonesia and Brazil
as major exporters. Interestingly, 50% of the net exports are controlled by about five countries (Table 3).
It is also interesting to relate the availability and trade of food calories to the resources used in the produc-
tion process. We focus in particular on water, which remains a major limiting factor for agriculture. Food
production requires more water than any other human activity; it has been estimated that most of the
human appropriation of freshwater resources (80%– 90%; e.g., Falkenmark et al., 2004) is used in agricul-
ture. Some countries do not have enough renewable water resources to produce all the food they need
and therefore depend on imports from other regions. Thus, trade is associated with a virtual transfer of
the water used in the production of the traded commodities (Allan, 1998). Recent research has investi-
gated the global patterns of virtual water trade (Hoekstra and Chapagain, 2008; Carr et al., 2012), while
their relationship with food production and trade remains poorly understood. We found that the WUE of
the traded commodities was about the same as that of production in 1986 and it declined in the course
of the study period (Table 4). This suggests that in the last few decades the increase in food trade has
D’ODORICO ET AL. © 2014 The Authors. 7
Earth’sFuture 10.1002/2014EF000250
Figure 4. Global maps of country sufficiency and self-sufficiency defined by comparing the per capita food production to a diet of 2700 ±10% kcal/person/d (including waste).
Countries were classified as not self-sufficient if production <2430 kcal/d; barely self-sufficient if the production was between 2430 and 2970 kcal/d; self-sufficient if the
production >2970 kcal/d. Likewise, countries were classified as not sufficient, barely sufficient, and sufficient if their average food supply per capita (accounting both for
production and net trade) was below, in between, or above those two values, respectively.
focused on food commodities with relatively low WUE. To better understand these patterns we have
considered plant, animal, and luxury products separately. The WUE of animal-based food products is
overall much lower than that of plant products (about 30%). The WUE of the traded plant products has
decreased over time. A (smaller) decline is observed also for the traded animal products, while the luxury
products have maintained an almost constant WUE. The traded animal products have a higher WUE than
the total production of animal-based food commodities, while the opposite is true about luxury products
(Table 4). In the case of plant products, at the beginning of the study period the WUE of trade was higher
than that of production, but it then decreased below the WUE of production. The global distribution of the
WUE of food production does not reflect any obvious climatic pattern, while it appears to overall increase
with countries’ affluence (Figure 6).
4. Discussion
Decades of research on social development and famine indicate that food security depends not only
on food availability and the ability of the planet to produce enough to nourish the entire global
population [Malthus, 1798; Cohen, 1995; Lee, 2011], but also on other factors that affect the access to food,
including trade [Sen, 1981], political stability and lack of conflict [Deveroux, 2001], and the existence of
institutions and norms of resource governance [e.g., Ostrom, 1990]. By evaluating countries’ reliance on
national production and international trade, this study developed a country-scale analysis of food security
with a focus on food sufficiency and availability. Several countries around the world are not in conditions
of food self-sufficiency but depend on imports from other regions [Fader et al., 2013; Suweis et al., 2013].
In the past two to three decades, most of Africa and the Middle East have not been self-sufficient. Trade,
however, appears to have improved the situation in the Sahel region, which is now closer to conditions
of sufficiency than in the previous decades (Figure 4). In other countries of sub-Saharan Africa and central
Asia, however, trade was unable to eradicate food insufficiency. At the same time, only few countries
lost their self-sufficiency because of trade. Thus, trade seems to be enhancing rather than eroding food
security. Overall, in the last two decades there has been an increase in the number of (trade-dependent)
countries that reach sufficiency through their reliance on trade. The ongoing intensification of trade
and the fact that, globally, about 23% of the food is traded suggest that global food security can be
D’ODORICO ET AL. © 2014 The Authors. 8
Earth’sFuture 10.1002/2014EF000250
Figure 5. The global network of food trade in 1986 (a) and 2010 (b). (c) Changes in the average number of export links per country
(or “degree”) during 1986–2010.
threatened not only by regional climate extremes (drought, flood, frost) but also by price volatility and
changes in the food market [Headley, 2010]. Countries that strongly rely on trade are expected to be par-
ticularly vulnerable, especially if their economies are not strong enough to absorb the shocks of food price
volatility in the global market [FAO-OECD, 2011; Fader et al., 2013; D’Odorico et al., 2010]. At the same time
trade plays a crucial role in allowing societies in conditions of food deficit to meet their demand through
imports from other regions of the world.
D’ODORICO ET AL. © 2014 The Authors. 9
Earth’sFuture 10.1002/2014EF000250
Tab le 3 . Major Contributors to Net Food Exports
1986 2010
Country % % cum Country % % cum
United States 25.8 25.8 United States 17.0 17.0
France 8.9 34.7 Brazil 9.9 26.9
Canada 7.9 42.6 Argentina 8.5 35.4
Australia 6.7 49.3 Indonesia 5.9 41.3
Argentina 6.4 55.7 France 5.9 47.1
Thailand 3.8 59.4 Canada 5.6 52.8
Malaysia 3.7 63.1 Malaysia 5.4 58.1
Brazil 3.5 66.6 Germany 3.4 61.5
United Kingdom 3.0 69.6 Australia 3.1 64.6
China. mainland 2.9 72.4 Netherlands 3.1 67.7
Tab le 4 . Global Water Use Efficiency of Food Commodities Produced and Traded (kcal/L)
WUE Production Trade
(kcal/L) 1986 2010 1986 2010
All products 1.372 1.346 1.392 1.206
Plant 1.736 1.640 1.931 1.601
Animal 0.532 0.528 0.695 0.622
Luxury 1.443 1.528 0.486 0.480
Because of the globalization of food and the strong interconnection existing within the food trade net-
work, the effect of episodic regional declines in crop production can be felt globally [Suweis et al., 2013].
For instance, the recent food crisis of 2007 was likely induced by droughts in Russia, Ukraine, and the
United States, and an increase in global crop demand for agrofuels. The consequently escalating food
prices caused riots and social unrest in some developing countries [Hermele, 2014]. To curb the food price
increase, some governments banned exports, while trade-dependent countries started to panic [Maetz
et al., 2011]. This food crisis and the episodes that followed in 2011 demonstrate that uncertain and unre-
liable food markets can lead to food insecurity [FAO-OECD, 2011; Headley, 2010; Welton, 2011]. This effect
is expected to become even stronger as the reliance on trade and the globalization of food increase [Fader
et al., 2013; Suweis et al., 2013]. However, the ongoing development of tissue engineering technologies
for in vitro meat production might provide in a near future new means to enhance food security with-
out requiring soils and water, though the environmental and ethical implications of such transition in the
meat industry is still difficult to foresee [Tuomisto and Teixeira de Mattos, 2011; Post , 2012].
To date water remains one of the major factors constraining food production. The WUE of food production
tends to increase with affluence (Figure 6b), which presumably reflects access to modern water efficient
technologies in the economically more developed countries.
5. Conclusions
It has been observed that the international trade of food commodities induces a virtual transfer of embod-
ied land [Kitzes et al., 2009], water [Allan, 1998], carbon [Kastner et al., 2011], nitrogen [Galloway et al.,
2007], and other land based resources [e.g., Hermele, 2014], while most of the environmental impacts
of agricultural production remain in the producing countries [Meyfroidt et al., 2013]. Thus, trade is asso-
ciated with the globalization of resources [e.g., Hoekstra and Chapagain, 2008], the externalization of
environmental impacts [e.g., O’Bannon et al., 2014], and the establishment of teleconnections between
those impacts and their drivers (e.g., consumer behavior, price volatility, or climate fluctuations) [DeFries
et al., 2010; Schmitz et al., 2012; Meyfroidt et al., 2013]. An often overlooked aspect of international trade is
D’ODORICO ET AL. © 2014 The Authors. 10
Earth’sFuture 10.1002/2014EF000250
Figure 6. Global map of WUE (kcal/L) of food production for 2010 (based on all
food commodities). (a) Global map; (b) dependency on per capita gross
domestic product (GDP). Averages (squares) and standard deviations (error bars)
were calculated after binning the raw data.
its impact on food security [Fader
et al., 2013]. This study reconstructed
the global network of food calorie
trade and evaluated its changes in the
course of the past three decades. We
found that, globally, about one fourth
of the food produced for human
consumption is traded internation-
ally. While the caloric content of the
food produced worldwide would be
sufficient to feed the whole global
population, there are countries in
conditions of chronic food scarcity.
In these countries the food demand
by the local population by far exceeds
the supply allowed by the land, water,
climate, and soils locally available for
food production (Figure 4 and Sup-
porting Information, Figure S2). This
unbalanced condition can be sus-
tained either by accepting that actual
food consumption does not meet
the demand (hence the persistence
of malnourishment) or by relying on
international trade for the redistri-
bution of food commodities among
different regions of the world.
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D’ODORICO ET AL. © 2014 The Authors. 12
... It is now clearer that trade plays a crucial role in narrowing the gap between domestic consumption and supply. The international food trade provides access to approximately 24% of the food consumed by the global population [10]. If extreme events hinder food trade, the instability of the world market will exacerbate [11], thereby festering food shortages in resource-poor economies with food deficits [9]. ...
... Most of the calories consumed by the world's population come from four staple crops (maize, rice, soybean, and wheat) [10]. We collect bilateral food trade data from 1986 to 2020, provided by the FAOSTAT data sets on international trade flows from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, ...
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International food trade is a growing complement to gaps in domestic food supply and demand, but it is vulnerable to disruptions due to some unforeseen shocks. This paper assembles the international crop trade networks using maize, rice, soybean, and wheat trade data sets from 1986 to 2020. We assess the importance of economies using multidimensional node importance metrics. We analyze the correlation structure of different node important metrics based on the random matrix theory and incorporate 20 metrics into a single metric. We find that some metrics have many similarities and dissimilarities, especially for metrics based on the same trade flow directions. We also find that European economies have a significant impact on the iCTNs. Additionally, economies with poor crop production play a major role in import trade, whereas economies with higher food production or smaller populations are crucial to export trade. Our findings have practical implications for identifying key economies in the international crop trade networks, preventing severe damage to the food trade system caused by trade disruptions in some economies, maintaining the stability of the food supply, and ensuring food security.
... Adding money (the dynamics of trading), we see that the world finds a positive balance [144]. However, the modern world gives more importance to economy [145], ignoring that, without the spread of the goods of the WEF nexus, the very existence of people (and society) will be in question immediately after a possible WEF nexus collapse. ...
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The water–energy–food (WEF) and land nexus is a basic element of prosperity. However, the elements of WEF are not equally distributed, and the dynamics of trading drives the distribution of goods. Money controls the trading, but money is just a convention and not a stable measure. Therefore, we have used the data of gross domestic product (GDP) and the price of electricity of each country in order to convert money to stable energy units. To evaluate the role of money in the WEF nexus, we also convert all the elements of the nexus, in energy units. In addition, we observe that land is the base of WEF and is positively correlated with all of its elements. However, we find that even the richest countries are facing critical deficits in WEF. Adding the money (GDP in energy units) to the WEF nexus, the balance becomes positive and we conclude that trading is necessary for both survival and prosperity. This may be obvious, but at present, global geopolitical conflicts which use economic sanctions as a tool transform the global balance of the WEF nexus, putting the global prosperity in jeopardy.
... Developed countries tend to generate more food logistic emissions from their food supply than developing countries (Fig. 2c), due in part to systematic management systems for the food supply 35 involving more complex requirements and standards for food handling. Global food distribution will be increasingly dependent on complex supply chains, given that rapid agricultural modernization and urbanization have doubled the global food trade since the 1990s 36 . Continuous investments in logistic infrastructure and enhanced management may reduce FLW generation in complex, globalized supply chains, but due to the steady scaling and standardization of logistic systems around the world, the growth of GHG emissions caused by logistic activities is exacerbated. ...
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... The management of natural resources is closely linked to food security, and factors such as population growth, climate change, consumption patterns, regional conflicts, and epidemics can create volatility and shocks in food supply chains, which could result in global crisis (Torreggiani et al. 2018). Scientific literature has illuminated the role of global trade in alleviating regional and domestic food scarcity (Torreggiani et al. 2018;D'Odorico et al. 2014;Seekell, Odorico, and Macdonald 2018), in terms of both commodity trade and also embedded resources, such as virtual trade in water (Hoekstra and Chapagain 2007;D'Odorico et al. 2018;Hanjra and Qureshi 2010;Zhan-Ming and Chen 2013) and phosphorus resources (e.g. Metson, Bennett, and Elser 2012;van Dijk, Lesschen, and Oenema 2016;Nesme et al. 2016). ...
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Food systems are central to global sustainability, while being complex systems where places and people are intertwined over large distances and at different scales. Transformations towards sustainable food systems have been called for in both research and policy, and Sweden and the European Union have declared high ambitions to act as global leaders in these transformations. While food production in Sweden and the European Union is often portrayed as largely sustainable in a global context, the region is highly dependent on food imports, with relatively large environmental footprints globally. This thesis aims to explore transformative pathways towards sustainability, with a particular focus on sustainable food systems, in a Swedish and European Union context. The thesis specifically studies the following research questions: (1) What constitutes transformations towards sustainability, and in particular sustainable food systems, from the perspectives of Swedish stakeholders, including food system practitioners, and European Union policy frameworks? (2) What roles, responsibilities, and agency do Swedish stakeholders, including food system practitioners and European Union policy frameworks, attribute to different actors? (3) How can interconnections and accountability in global food systems be understood and governed in light of societal transformations towards sustainability? (4) What are the implications for transformative pathways towards sustainability? The thesis builds on four papers that use focus group methodology (PI and PII), involving Swedish stakeholders, including food-system practitioners, analyses of European Green Deal policies (PII and PIII), and quantitative investigation of phosphorus fertiliser use in Brazilian soybean production and related biodiversity impacts (PIV). Four overarching conclusions are drawn from the findings: (I) Shared goals and consensus are emphasised as essential, while a diversity of transformative pathways and understandings of challenges and priorities needs to be recognised, with attention being paid to how specific choices might include and exclude pathways and actors. (II) Emerging shifts in how food is valued open up opportunities for transformative change in which the ‘true’ cost of food is acknowledged, alongside a recognition of non-economic values of food, which presupposes alignment at the practical, political, and personal levels. (III) The identified pathways comprise public accountability regimes, incentives for more sustainable consumption, regulations to reduce resource use and impacts of food production. (IV) The attribution of accountability to trading operators in the accountability regime proposed by the European Union highlights an extended focus from food production and consumption towards regulating flows and intermediate actors in food systems.
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Urbanization imperils agriculture by converting farmland into uncultivable impervious surfaces and other uses that limit land productivity. Despite the considerable loss of productive croplands due to historic urbanization in the United States, little is known about the locations and magnitudes of extant agricultural land still under threat of future urban expansion. In this study, we developed a spatially explicit machine learning-based method to predict urban development through 2040 under a business-as-usual scenario and explored its occurrence on existing farmland. We found that if urban development continues at the same pace as that between 2001 and 2016, by 2040, highly developed areas and low-density residential areas will increase by 9.5 and 21 million acres, respectively. This increase would result in 18 million acres of agricultural land lost, fragmented, or compromised (~2% of total agricultural lands in 2016), with the remainder of projected development occurring on other types of natural and semi-natural lands. Of the affected agricultural lands, 6.2 million acres (34%) would be converted to uncultivable urban uses and 12 million acres (66%) to low-density residential uses. Agricultural land losses are projected to be greatest in fast-growing regions such as Texas, California, and the Southeast, and on the outskirts of metropolitan areas across the country, especially in the Midwest, where agricultural lands are more concentrated. The losses as a percentage of existing agricultural lands are projected to be highest along the East Coast, where many urban areas are forecasted to expand onto a limited remaining pool of cultivable lands. These findings can help guide the efforts of local, state, and federal policymakers to reduce land use competition between urban and agricultural systems and mitigate the impacts of projected urban expansion.
A agricultura familiar constitui o grupo social majoritário de unidades produtivas do meio rural latino-americano. Nos anos recentes, houve avanços importantes em relação ao reconhecimento de seu papel no desenvolvimento rural e na superação da pobreza. Várias organizações internacionais lançaram estudos para afirmar o papel estratégico dos pequenos produtores na segurança alimentar. Neste artigo, apresenta-se a agricultura familiar na América Latina e no Caribe e se discute a sua presença em diferentes países mediante o uso de dados estatísticos disponíveis, assim como se analisa as suas potencialidades para fortalecer o desenvolvimento rural. O trabalho inicia com uma discussão sobre os elementos que contribuíram para o interesse crescente dos estudiosos e formuladores de políticas na agricultura familiar e, na sequência, analisa-se suas características e a distribuição em diferentes países. O trabalho conclui que a agricultura familiar possui um papel central para o desenvolvimento rural da região latinoamericana e encerra com uma análise sobre as principais potencialidades em face do quadro político e institucional.
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Almost 90% of freshwater resources consumed globally are used to produce plant and animal commodities. Water-scarce countries can balance their water needs by importing food from other countries. This process, known as virtual water transfer, represents the externalization of water use. The volume and geographic reach of virtual water transfers is increasing, but little is known about how these transfers redistribute the environmental costs of agricultural production. The grey water footprint quantifies the environmental costs of virtual water transfers. The grey water footprint is calculated as the amount of water necessary to reduce nitrogen concentrations from fertilizers and pesticides released into streams and aquifers to allowed standards. We reconstructed the global network of virtual grey water transfers for the period 1986–2010 based on international trade data and grey water footprints for 309 commodities. We tracked changes in the structure of the grey water transfer network with network and inequality statistics. Pollution is increasing and is becoming more strongly concentrated in only a handful of countries. The global external grey water footprint, the pollution created by countries outside of their borders, increased 136% during the period. The extent of externalization of pollution is highly unequal between countries, and most of this inequality is due to differences in social development status. Our results demonstrate a growing globalization of pollution due to virtual water transfers.
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Marine fisheries provide an essential source of protein for many people around the world. Unlike alternative terrestrial sources of protein, marine fish production requires little to no freshwater inputs. Consuming marine fish protein instead of terrestrial protein therefore represents freshwater savings (equivalent to an avoided water cost) and contributes to a low water footprint diet. These water savings are realized by the producers of alternative protein sources, rather than the consumers of marine protein. This study quantifies freshwater savings from marine fish consumption around the world by estimating the water footprint of replacing marine fish with terrestrial protein based on current consumption patterns. An estimated 7 600 km3 yr-1 of water is used for human food production. Replacing marine protein with terrestrial protein would require an additional 350 km3 yr-1 of water, meaning that marine protein provides current water savings of 4.6%. The importance of these freshwater savings is highly uneven around the globe, with savings ranging from as little as 0 to as much as 50%. The largest savings as a per cent of current water footprints occur in Asia, Oceania, and several coastal African nations. The greatest national water savings from marine fish protein occur in Southeast Asia and the United States. As the human population increases, future water savings from marine fish consumption will be increasingly important to food and water security and depend on sustainable harvest of capture fisheries and low water footprint growth of marine aquaculture.
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Almost 90% of freshwater resources consumed globally are used to produce plant and animal commodities. Water scarce countries can balance their water needs by importing food from other countries. This process, known as virtual water transfer, represents the externalization of water use. The volume and geographic reach of virtual water transfers is increasing, but little is known about how these transfers redistribute the environmental costs of agricultural production. The grey water footprint quantifies the environmental costs of virtual water transfers. The grey water footprint is calculated as the amount of water necessary to reduce the concentrations of fertilizers and pesticides released in streams and aquifers to the allowed standards. We reconstructed the global network of virtual grey water transfers for the period 1986-2010 based on global trade data and grey water footprints for 309 commodities. We tracked changes in the structure of the grey water transfer network with network and inequality statistics. Pollution is increasing and is becoming more strongly concentrated in only a handful of countries. The global external grey water footprint, the pollution created by countries outside of their borders, increased 136% during the period. The extent of externalization of pollution is highly unequal between countries and most of this inequality is due to differences in social development status. Our results demonstrate a growing globalization of pollution due to virtual water transfers.
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Achieving global food security is one of the major challenges of the coming decades. In order to tackle future food security challenges we must understand the past. This study presents a historical analysis of global food availability, one of the key elements of food security. By calculating national level dietary energy supply and production for nine time steps during 1965-2005 we classify countries based on their food availability, food self-sufficiency and food trade. We also look at how diets have changed during this period with regard to supply of animal based calories. Our results show that food availability has increased substantially both in absolute and relative terms. The percentage of population living in countries with sufficient food supply (>2500 kcal/cap/d) has almost doubled from 33% in 1965 to 61% in 2005. The population living with critically low food supply (<2000 kcal/cap/d) has dropped from 52% to 3%. Largest improvements are seen in the MENA region, Latin America, China and Southeast Asia. Besides, the composition of diets has changed considerably within the study period: the world population living with high supply of animal source food (>15% of dietary energy supply) increased from 33% to over 50%. While food supply has increased globally, food self-sufficiency (domestic production>2500 kcal/cap/d) has not changed remarkably. In the beginning of the study period insufficient domestic production meant insufficient food supply, but in recent years the deficit has been increasingly compensated by rising food imports. This highlights the growing importance of food trade, either for food supply in importing countries or as a source of income for exporters. Our results provide a basis for understanding past global food system dynamics which, in turn, can benefit research on future food security.
Conference Paper
People in developing countries currently consume on average one-third the meat and one-quarter of the milk products per capita compared to the richer North, but this is changing rapidly. The amount of meat consumed in developing countries over the past has grown three times as much as it did in the developed countries. The Livestock Revolution is primarily driven by demand. Poor people everywhere are eating more animal products as their incomes rise above poverty level and as they become urbanized. By 2020, the share of developing countries in total world meat consumption will expand from 52% currently to 63%. By 2020, developing countries will consume 107 million metric tons (mmt) more meat and 177 mmt more milk than they did in 1996/1998, dwarfing developed-country increases of 19 mmt for meat and 32 mmt for milk. The projected increase in livestock production will require annual feed consumption of cereals to rise by nearly 300 mmt by 2020. Nonetheless, the inflation-adjusted prices of livestock and feed commodities are expected to fall marginally by 2020, compared to precipitous declines in the past 20 y. Structural change in the diets of billions of people is a primal force not easily reversed by governments. The incomes and nutrition of millions of rural poor in developing countries are improving. Yet in many cases these dietary changes also create serious environmental and health problems that require active policy involvement to prevent irreversible consequences.
This report looks at the short-and long-term impact of the grain export ban issued by the Russian government during 2010-11. It shows that the ban did not bring food prices down in Russia, that it increased the price of grain internationally, and helped create an enviroment where price spikes and general instability are far more likely in the future. The report concludes with recommendations for alternative policies to increase food security in the future.
Estimates of the maximum number of people the earth can support have been developed and put forth routinely in environmental debates in UN reports and in papers by scholars or academic politicians trained in ecology economics sociology geography soil science or agronomy and other disciplines. However professional demographers tend to focus upon the composition and growth of populations restricting their predictions to the near term and framing them in conditional terms. How many people the earth can support depends upon nature as well as humankinds social economic cultural and political choices. There is not and will not be one single number of people the earth an support. Earths ultimate human carrying capacity hinges upon future constraints and possibilities which cannot yet be known since they remain in the future. The world still has room to accommodate additional population. However any major population growth is pointless. The population density needed for mankind to obtain all of the advantages of cooperation and social intercourse has in most populous countries already been attained.