Biofuels, population growth and climate change at the cost of food production.

During my recent sojourn I came across an interesting discussion paper by Professor Julian Cribb presented in Melbourne entitled The Coming Famine. Professor Cribb from the University of Technology Sydney posits that “in the next two generations the world must raise food production 110 per cent – off a smaller and more degraded soils base, with two thirds the water, costlier and scarcer nutrients, using less research and under the hammer of climate change. It is the synergy between these constraints which poses the greatest challenge.”

Daniella Miletic of the The Age reported Professor Cribb as saying that Australia was moving into

“an agricultural knowledge drought. No government in the world is really focussed on this. Most of them are focussed on climate change, which is very important, however the food shortages could hit us unexpectedly if there were any major shortages in any of the world’s major producing regions.

Australia has not yet understood that agricultural policy is defence policy. It is refugee policy, environmental policy as well as health, food and economic policy.”

It is Professor Cribbs assertion that sustaining food production is the global scientific challenge of our era, more urgent even than global warming.

This warning is timely given that more and more land is being given over to the production of biofuels to meet global energy needs.

His paper ends with a quotation from Swift: “And he gave it for his opinion that whoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together.” (Jonathon Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, 1726)

Lets hope the politicians are heeding the warning.

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~ by abstraktbiblos on Saturday, 26 January, 2008.

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