čtvrtek 22. května 2014

Why Will Food Become More Dangerous

Although you may not realize this while paying bills, you have grown up in probably the richest and the most satisfied generation that will ever live.

The reminiscences of world wars are depleting along with their heroes, you have bought a house on mortgage, leased a car and your kids are complaining about getting up for school.

Surely you have heard about some of the affairs concerning food chains – whether it was Ikea’s meatballs, salt from Poland or sausages containing no meat. As well as the European Union, you may come to an impression that supranational companies are just a bunch of thieves that need more regulation and strict punishments. However the real cause is, apart from the hunger for money, the real hunger.

The price of basic ingredients for processed food is constantly rising. It is important for these chain stores to gain an advantage over their competitors by slowing down the price increase. This brings customers whose budgets are under pressure of unemployment and general economical recession.

There are several reasons for the growth of prices for food, both on the side of demand and supply. The food production can not work without arable land (except for fishing and aquaculture, which I will discuss separately). Not every place on the planet can be used for producing food and the population growth is multiple time bigger. For example – while in 1950 a single hectare of arable land was entitled to feed 2 people, in 2030 it is supposed to take care of 6 persons.

In past years, advanced mechanization and the arrival of bio-chemistry and artificial fertilizers helped to maintain level of production with the level of population growth but there is no guarantee that this situation will last forever. Most likely it can't. Most argue we need to keep producing more food to feed more people, but in nature - any colony grows equally big to balance level of available resources. Question is therefore what is tha cause of population explosion and what consequence.

Another pressure on rising prices is wealth. The agriculturists want to earn more money for their work. Simultaneously, developing countries are undercoming a significant change in their menu. The growing demand for meat and quality food will cause new price shocks in the upcoming years.

Aside from the shocks on the demand there is an increasing frequency of extreme weather changes that negatively affect the supply. According to available information the rise of average temperature by 1°C can cause a 10% decrease of global rice production. Even more dramatic effects of climatic changes can be seen in areas that are already facing extreme conditions. The sub-Saharan Africa can be struck by immediate starvation by simple seasonal weather change that will decrease the production by half of its current level.

Bio-fuels also take a part of our bills. The green oil is actually paid from our pockets multiple times – once at the fuel station, once in our taxes and once we buy food. Isn't it rediculous? In order to prevent depletion of oil, we decided to pump oil from the ground, transform it into artificial fertilizers, pesticides and fuel for agriculture machines. Oil plants build green mass from oil-based enrichments, than we harvest them, make green oil and pretend to behave consciously. Of course it does not make any economic sence, so it is heavily subsidised from our taxes.

Due to this state support a great amount of arable land is changed into fuel farms and therefore the available land for food is reduced. It is estimated, based on contemporary population boom, that human kind needs to double the number of food production by the 2050 to sustain itself. It is clear that the arable land simply cannot be doubled and even the rest of economical and climate factors suggests that this task will not be easy to accomplish.

  • Food prices will rise faster than your salary. 
  • Prices for quality food will rise even faster than prices for affected food. 
  • Chain stores mask the actual increase of prices by cheating the processed food. 
Some supranational corporations are using the upcoming food crisis for stabilizing their dominant position on the market by claiming intellectual rights for genetically modified crops. The biggest corporation of those is the Monsanto corporation to which I have dedicated a full article here.

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