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Global population-food supply balance becoming increasingly prone to instability

53A new study has suggested that world’s population-food supply balance is becoming increasingly unstable.
The study conducted by University of Virginia reported that as the world population increases and food demand has grown, globalization of trade has made the food supply more sensitive to environmental and market fluctuations and this leads to greater chances of food crises, particularly in nations where land and water resources are scarce and therefore food security strongly relies on imports.
Paolo D’Odorico, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and one of the study’s authors, asserted that in the past few decades there has been an intensification of international food trade and an increase in the number of countries that depend on food imports and on average, about one-fourth of the food they eat is available to them through international trade and this globalization of food may contribute to the spread of the effects of local shocks in food production throughout the world.”
D’Odorico, doctoral student Joel Carr of U.Va. and colleagues at the University of Padova in Italy and the Swiss Federal Polytechnic of Lausanne used computer modeling to reconstruct the global network of food trade between 1986 and 2011 in conjunction with a population growth model, factoring in the constraints of food availability through domestic production and trade, and examined the response of the system to perturbations.
Researchers found that the coupled dynamics of population and access to food are becoming less resilient and increasingly prone to instability. Countries that strongly depend on trade for their food supply appear to be more susceptible to instability and episodic food crises than exporting countries. These findings are consistent with the food insecurity that has affected trade-dependent countries during recent food crises.
The study is published in online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)