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Crop Biotech Update

Almost Two Billion People in the World Depend on Imported Food

April 19, 2017

Researchers at the Aalto University in Finland have, for the first time, shown a broad connection between resource scarcity, population pressure, and food imports. In a study published in the journal Earth's Future, the researchers found that even less wealthy regions relied on imports, but not always successfully. The food security of about 1.4 billion people has become dependent on imports and an additional 460 million people live in areas where increased imports are not enough to compensate for the lack of local production.

The researchers conducted a global analysis that focused on regions where water availability restricts production, and examined them from 1961 until 2009, evaluating the extent to which the growing population pressure was met by increasing food imports.

The work combined modelled data with FAO statistics and also took into consideration increases in production efficiency from technological development. The analysis showed that in 75% of resource scarce regions, food imports began to rise as the region's own production became insufficient. ‘Keeping food demand in check is the key issue. Controlling population growth plays an essential role in this work, but it would also be important to enhance production chains by reducing food waste and meat consumption. Since one quarter of all the food produced in the world is wasted, reducing this would be really significant on a global level," said Dr. Joseph Guillaume, co-author of the study.

For more information, read the article at Aalto University News & Events, or read the open-access paper at Earth's Future.