“With 1–10% of the worldʼs species projected to be lost in the next quarter century, [a rate comparable to the Cretaceous extinction event that marked the demise of the dinosaurs]” (Hanski et al. 1995; Lawton and May 1995; Alroy. 2008), how can we as a species slow down the loss of our biodiversity as well as feed a growing number of hungry people around the world? “In a world where obesity and hunger co-occur, it seems beside the point to argue about yield increases…” (Chappell, LaValle. 2011).
It is clear that the solution to hunger in the world is not producing more food, rather slowly changing a complicated and very political global system. As Chappell and LaValle (2011) state, although the human population is still growing, the most recent increase in malnourishment was not the result of the population increase, or even a decrease in crop yields. The increase in food prices due to the rise of petroleum prices has been the strongest factor.
So there you have it, stated quite clearly. Itʼs not that thereʼs no food available, itʼs that the price of producing and transporting it to those who need it is too “expensive”.
There are solutions for this. “The obvious alternative to complete global redistribution of food is to enhance self-sufficiency on a regional and sub- regional basis. In todayʼs globalized and still trade-focused world, greater food self-reliance runs contrary to many trends” (Chappell, LaValle. 2011).
In other words, to solve world hunger there needs to be much more attention paid to localizing food production to cut costs of transportation and create more self-reliant economies. This thought also ties in nicely to our question of conserving biodiversity as well. Contrary to the popular conventional cash-crop exports, localized agriculture helps conserve biodiversity “…with evidence that sufficient food can be produced using alternative methods, it is time to move past reservations about investing in and converting to alternative agriculture…and do it.” (Chappell, LaValle. 2011)
So now weʼd like to leave you with a thought. Although cash crops are such an intrinsic part of our societal and economic construct, it seems clear that they do not provide sustainable or socially fair food. Globally, food is not fair. How might we go about providing ethical nourishment to everyone around the world while maintaining global biodiversity?
Chappell, M., LaValle, L. “Food Security and Biodiversity: Can We Have Both? An Agroecological Analysis.” (2011). Web. Mar 7. 2012.
Hanski, I., J. Clobert, and W. Reid. 1995. Generation, maintenance and loss of biodiversity. In Global biodiversity assessment, eds. V.H. Heywood, R. Barbault and S. Sastrapradja, 232–245. Cambridge University Press.
Lawton, J.H., and R.M. May (eds.). 1995. Extinction rates. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Alroy, J. 2008. Dynamics of origination and extinction in the marine fossil record. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105(S1): 11536–11542.