Food is an essential human need, and nobody can survive without eating for days. There are fears that the coming decades will be more hostile, especially to individuals who cannot afford decent meals in a day. This essay explores the problem of the threats to global food supplies and presents solutions and a critique of their effectiveness in alleviating this challenge.
Threats to Global Food Supply
The human population has continued to grow despite the limited land and other resources to support it. A recent survey conducted by the United Nations in 2012 revealed that the world’s population has increased to seven billion. It is estimated that the population will be eight billion and nine billion by 2026 and 2042 respectively (Kneafsey, 2013). These figures are a cause for alarm because they reflect the need to improve food production. Today’s food production has improved, but it has not matched the rate at which the population is increasing. Improved health care services, nutrition and other issues enable people to live longer and have children. Land is a scarce and non-renewable resource; therefore, its productivity is limited, and that is why it cannot rival the high population increase rate (Beddington, 2012).
Modernisation has dealt a severe blow to the global food supply. Today’s society is highly modernised as is evident in the number of sky scraping buildings, super-highways and recreational centres. Arable lands have been converted into residential places, recreational parks and used for infrastructural development. People are attracted to regions that have fertile lands and good climate, and this means that they reduce the size of arable lands. Nobody wants to live in arid and semi-arid areas because these regions do not support food production.
Environmental pollution is also a serious threat to the global food supply. The excessive use of genetically modified organisms, fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides interfere and destroy the soil, water and air cycles (Kneafsey, 2013). The wanton destruction of vegetation cover exposes the environment to desertification, and this reduces the size of productive lands. The depletion of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect caused by harmful gases expose farmers to unnecessary expenses to boost productivity.
Poor food handling practices causes low production and wastage. Farmers, especially in developing nations are the chief suppliers of food, but do not have proper farming knowledge (Brown, 2012). They use old practices that are less productive, cumbersome and expensive. Poor storage and transportation of harvests exposes food to pests and wastage. The World Food Programme estimates that almost 30% of the world’s food is wasted due to poor storage.
Nations should educate their citizens and encourage them to plan their families. This will regulate the unchecked population increase and ensure there is adequate food for everybody. Food security cannot be achieved if the population continues to increase at the current rate. China’s one-child policy was effective in taming its high population increase rate and today it has achieved food security, but this has not been achieved fully (Dankelman, 2013).
Land use policies should be established, and the existing ones implemented to protect arable lands from human encroachment. Vegetation cover and water catchment areas should be protected to ensure the future generations do not starve. Land is a limited resource and thus it should be used properly to ensure its productivity is maximised.
Governments should introduce regulations to control the use of modern technology in food production and other related practices. The excessive use of fossil fuels pollutes the environment and renders it unproductive. Industries, settlement areas and infrastructure should be constructed in less productive areas (Berry, 2015). The demand for houses should not supersede that of food production.
Farmers should be educated and encouraged to practice sustainable farming and use modern technology properly. Developed countries like Denmark, Australia and the United States should work with developing nations to improve food production, reduce wastage and diversify sources of food. More research should be conducted to identify drought, disease and pest resistant food varieties.
Implications of the Solutions
It is difficult to impose family planning guidelines on individuals because people have the freedom of getting married and having their desired number of children. Marriage and parenting are the responsibilities of an individual, and the government has no right of interfering in personal matters (Hinrichs, 2013). It is difficult to control the population growth rate without violating the rights and freedoms of individuals.
Modern technology is inevitable, and this means that a lot has to be done to regulate its use. The advantages of using modern technology override its effects. It is not easy to influence farmers to reject this practice.
Land use policies have limited abilities to protect arable lands from human encroachment (Clay, 2013). There is the need for houses, roads, water and sewerage system and electricity in all regions. Therefore, some land must be reserved for infrastructural development.
The main threats to global food supplies are high population increase, environmental pollution, encroachment of arable lands and poor farming practices. These threats can be averted by educating farmers on proper farming practices, establishing land use policies, regulating the population increase rate and controlling the impacts of modern technology. It is difficult to impose restrictions on the freedoms of individuals, and this means that some solutions may not be applicable.
Beddington, J R 2012, ‘The role for scientists in tackling food insecurity and climate change’, Agriculture Food Security, vol. 1, pp. 10.
Berry, E 2015, ‘Food security and sustainability: can one exist without the other?’, Public Health Nutrition, pp. 1-10.
Brown, L R 2012, Outgrowing the Earth: The Food Security Challenge in an Age of Falling Water Tables and Rising Temperatures, Taylor & Francis, London.
Clay, J. (2013). World Agriculture and the Environment: A Commodity-By-Commodity Guide to Impacts and Practices, Island Press, Washington, D.C.
Dankelman, I 2013, Women and the Environment in the Third World: Alliance for the Future, Routledge, London.
Hinrichs, C 2013, ‘Regionalizing food security? Imperatives, intersections and contestations in a post-9/11 world’, Journal of Rural Studies, vol. 29, pp. 7-18.
Kneafsey, M 2013, ‘Consumers and food security: uncertain or empowered?’, Journal of Rural Studies, vol. 29, pp. 101-112.
Sutton, M A 2013, ‘Our Nutrient World: the challenge to produce more food and energy with less pollution’, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), New York.