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National Geographic's Portrait of the Global Food Crisis

National Geographic's Portrait of the Global Food Crisis

While it's unlikely that there'll be any shortage of food at Memorial Day grill-outs across the country this weekend, National Geographic has released a special report on the global food crisis that's occurring at the same time.

In "The End of Plenty," writer Joel K. Bourne, Jr., and photojournalist John Stanmeyer address the fact that agricultural productivity isn't keeping up with population growth, and humanity's looked the other way. "For most of the past decade, the world has been consuming more food than it has been producing," Bourne writes. Consequently, the cost of wheat, corn, rice, and other basic commodities has skyrocketed worldwide, hitting the world's poorest billion people the hardest. And the situation will only get worse: based on the world's booming population, we'll need to double our current food production by 2030 in order to keep up with demand. Simply stated: there isn't going to be enough food to go around.

Predictably, the root of the problem lies with agribusiness, and the synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, and genetic engineering that come along with it. Overconsumption of meat is a problem, too: it takes up to 10 times more grain to get the same amount of calories from eating US grain-fed beef as it does from eating the grain itself. This alone is reason enough for a city to go meatless!

Check out the stunning photo slideshow, which profiles the world's interdependent food system. Do you feel the same urgency to address the world's food crisis?

©2009 John Stanmeyer/National Geographic

Join The Conversation
Shirley11988 Shirley11988 8 years
kittyhill kittyhill 8 years
One issue the article discusses is biofuels. The article states that the amount of corn required to make one 25-gallon tank full of ethanol, could feed one person for a whole year. I understand that climate change is an issue & we're under pressure to find more sustainable energy sources, but people are dying from food shortages NOW. The government should remove the ethanol quotas from farmers' harvests & put the money into researching more responsible fuel sources, like hydrogen, & let that portion of the crop--I think the figure cited was as high as 35%, but I could be wrong--go to feeding people & feeding livestock to feed people.
CoconutPie CoconutPie 8 years
I would love to get this book.
ellenp1214 ellenp1214 8 years
what they DON'T talk about is the problem of access. the US spends a ton of money subsidizing corn, which leads to a surplus, so we spends billions to transport that surplus and dump it in other countries. these are the same countries that are made up of predominately farmers but are exporting their food to sell elsewhere because no one can afford to buy it. world hunger is obviously a huge problem, and people will not be able to scratch the surface by simply producing more.
fashion4ward fashion4ward 8 years
Very interesting- I learned all about this in AP Human Geography. Mathus's model, I believe, predicts one day the population will outpace food production, which has been proven wrong thus far.
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