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Food Crises

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CHEM 181
David Harpp

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World of Chem: Food January 24 Vitamins Food Crises Arab Spring started in Tunisia in January 2010. Tremendous increase in the price of food. 2 main types: o Hunger Affects approximately 1 billion people worldwide A major problem in Eastern Africa Environmental (drought) and security factors Somalia: Civil War. Will not allow help from western influences into areas they control. Affects mostly children Food aid is not a long term solution Solutions: Increase local food production o Fertilizers: Africa 3-5 kg/ha; U.S. 250 kg/ha o Water daily per capita: Ethiopia 130 L; Canada 4000 L o Many areas get enough rain but lack systems to store the water in o Less than 5% of crops are irrigated Develop crops better adapted to local conditions o Drought-resistant biotechnology o the biggest problem with GM technology is its relative unavailability to small farmers and its focus on crops that benefit big commercial interests (which are planted in the western world) FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) Solution: Eliminate export subsidies paid by the rich countries to their agricultural producers o The U.S. exports corn at 20% less than what it cost to produce, and wheat at 46% less. o Local producers cant compete with these prices. Most developing countries, if given the means, can become self-sufficient in food production. Since 1980, aid toward food production has dropped from 17% to 3% of total aid. World of Chem: Food January 24 Vitamins o Increased demand Food is available but too costly for many because of increased demand (Tunisia) 2008 food crisis: diversion of crops from food into biofuels (corn) In 2008, oils and fats and cereals increased in price. In 2009-2010, cereals were still high but sugar spiked as well. Sugar cane and corn are being diverted into making ethanol Price Index 2008 2011 Cereals 275 265 Dairy 210 234 Sugar 218 420 U.S. and Canada use about 10% of income on food; India and China use around 30-50% of income on food. They are most affected by the food crisis. o U.S. <10%; Canada >10% o India uses the most. Not caused by shortages due to environmental or security factors but mostly by increased demand. (cereals, sugarcane, etc.) Increase in oil prices Oil required to make fertilizer th 31.9 cents per gallon for gas back in 20 century Most of the oil is consumed in the U.S. but in China and India, the oil consumption is increasing. People are becoming wealthier. Increased wealth in emerging countries they will shift their nutrition pattern from cereals to meat. Brick countries = emerging countries: Russia, Brazil, India, China. Pig countries = countries in trouble: Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain. Production of biofuels CO p2oduction: urban activity Renewable energy Biofuels: o Materials derived from recently living organisms or their by-products o CO is2picked up by plants and we use the plant as a fuel. Thus, biofuel. o Thus, CO is2produced and reused o 2 main chemicals in biofuels are ethanol (produced by sugarcane or corn) and biodiesel (mostly vegetable oils, but also animal fats)World of Chem: Food January 24 Vitamins o Big difference between sugarcane and corn. Sugarcane: Sugarcane (extraction) sugar (fermentation) ethanol Brazil & sugarcane ethanol: 50% car fuel consumption; 42% world ethanol production world leader. Advantages of ethanol produced by sugarcane: less pollutants, energy savings, CO emissions, 2 environment, but lower mileage. Energy Balance: Input Output Sugarcane Ethanol 1
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