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Lecture

Chapter 8- Biotechnology and Food Resources.docx

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Department
Environment
Course
ENV100Y5
Professor
Monika Havelka
Semester
Fall

Description
Chapter 8- Biotechnology and Food Resources The Race to Feed the World Too little and too much food are both problematic from a global perspective  Malnutrition= unbalanced diet (shortage of required nutrients or excess)  Undernourishment= too few calories on a chronic basis  Over nourishment= too many calories on an ongoing basis  In Canada, 48% of adults exceed their healthy weight and 14% are obese  Calorie gap between rich and poor Diseases of Malnutrition  Marasmus: sever deficit of energy, protein and carbohydrates  Kwashiorkor: protein and micronutrient deficiency  Diabetes, heart disease, obesity: excess fats, carbohydrates, calories Who is most at risk of hunger? 1. Rural poor in developing countries  Often have electricity and no safe drinking water  Health, education and sanitation services are poor  Often directly involved in producing food  Many have no land of their own and work seasonally 2. Urban Poor  No means to produce food; have few resources to buy it 3. Victims of Catastrophes  Floods, droughts, earthquakes, etc force people to abandon land Why can’t we feed everyone?  Farmers today produce more than enough calories to feed everyone  Is food being produced sustainably?  Is there more involved in food security than just increasing agricultural productivity? Food security  Ensures that all people have physical and economic access to the quantity and quality of food they need to work and function normally from local, non-emergency sources  We are producing more and more food per person, however per capita food production is starting to decline; reflected in prices  Global grain stockpile: used to be enough to feed the world for several months; now it’s a few days  Food security depends on both production and distribution  Production-related issues: o Agricultural input costs are increasing ($$ + environment) o Effectiveness of inputs is decreasing o Environmental costs of outputs such as pollution are increasing o Soils are in decline  Distribution-related issues: o Can’t get crops off the farm and to the people o Food produced but lost in storage  Food security is constrained by the 5 “A’s”  Availability (production)  Adequacy (quality)  Accessibility (storage; distribution infrastructure; civil unrest; social status)  Affordability (ability to import, buy, produce, subsidize)  Acceptability (cultural, religious)  Food security is a complex issue The Green Revolution Agriculture post WW1  Cheap energy  Mechanization (tractors, combines; can work larger fields)  Large-scale irrigation (can farm marginal land)  Inorganic fertilizers (by-products of oil industry)  Knowledge of plant breeding (can breed high yield, disease resistant crops)  Better farming methods to alleviate world hunger  Started in Mexico in 1940’s (DR. Norman Borlaug)  Helping farmers to increase wheat yields via selective breeding  Spread to India and Pakistan; rest of world  Nobel Peace Prize 1970  Pakistan produced 8.4 million tons in 1970; 4.6 million in 1965  India’s produced 20 million tons on 1970; 12.3 million in 1965 The promise of the Green Revolution was to:  Increase yields  Increase carrying capacity  Improve technological knowledge  Get modern techniques to rural farmers  Eliminate hunger  Goals were approached through both intensification and extensification of agricultural production  Intensification: greater yields per unit land (pesticides, irrigation, fertilizers, new strains)  Extensification: more land brought into production (pesticides, irrigation, fertilizers, new strains) Enormous increases in production  1960-2000: food production increased > 1000%  1950= 14 million tons; 1990= 144 million tons  Calories per capita increased  Famine decreased  Lifestyle and income improved for many  Farming was modernized  However, growth rate of food production is slowing: e.g. wheat Solved many problems but caused others  Pesticides, irrigation, fertilizers, new strains are a mixed blessing  Salinization, desertification, pollution, loss of arable land  2008 China: 400,000km^2 of cropland & prairie is now desert (1/2 of farmland in Canada)  Overgrazing; over-exploitation of arable land; over-pumping rivers and aquifers  Lost topsoil pollutes both China’s cities and countries around the world Monocultures  Large expanses of single crop types  Increases yields (planting and harvesting more efficient)  Reduces biodiversity (e.g. pollinators)  Less disease resistance  Not all farmers have access to land, training, credit, technologies, inputs  Small-scale; subsistence farmers, women Food Production Diverted to Biofuel Production (limit usage of fossil fuels)  Biofuel- Fuels that are dependent on photosynthesis  Fuel derived from recently- dead biological material  Woodfuels, crop waste, energy-from-waste, etc  Usually from crops high in sugar or oils (e.g. corn or sugarcane for ethanol)  “Food or fuel” controversy in developing nations Problems of extensification and intensification: livestock  Consumption of animal products increases with wealth  Global per capita meat consumption has doubled since 1950  Increase consumption in protein = increases health in consumers  Livestock’s long shadow  FAO- UN organization- food and agricultural organization  Increase input into livestock = negative impacts  Livestock production accounts for 70% of all agricultural land and 30% of land surface of Earth  “The livestock sector emerges as one of the top 2 or 3 most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”  70% of previously forested land in Amazon is now pasture for livestock (McDonalds is one)  Livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions (more than transport sector)- produce a lot of methane (greenhouse gas), and have multi chamber stomachs (bacteria that breaks down food easily) Rates of Atmospheric N deposition correspond to areas of intense livestock farming (areas of intensive livestock farming)  Probably largest source of water pollution from manure (wastes, antibiotics & hormones; fertilizers & pesticides for feed crops (because land is for growing feed for animals); sediment from eroded pastures (cows have hoofs that tear up the ground- degraded land); chemicals from tanneries  In US: 55% of erosion and sediment; 37% of pesticide use; 50% of antibiotic use (to feed animals); 33% of Nitrogen & Phosphorus loading of freshwater systems is direct result of livestock farming Our food choices are also energy, water, and land choices  90% of energy is lost every time energy moves from one trophic level to the next (feed cost- beef, pork, eggs, chicken, and milk  in order of most feed input to produce 1kg of meat)  The lower on the food chain we eat, the more people Earth can support  If resources are meat based, carrying capacity is going to be lower (because less resources available) than vegetable based diet which has a higher carrying capacity  Meat is much less energetically efficient than grain as a source of food calories  “Environmental damage by livestock may be significantly re
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