In a new study that surprisingly comes from the halls of establishment education, researchers pinpoint globalization as a key indicator of where food crises are likely to emerge and worsen.
The study examines 140 nations with significant populations that have become reliant on imports due to the globalization of trade. Using computer modeling to examine the expanding global food network over a 25-year period beginning in 1986, their conclusions appear to highlight the dangers of seeking centralized solutions to local problems.
In much the same way that academic studies about the looming global water crisis have shown how centralized regulation and control only exacerbate a very real condition, so too does this study pinpoint rising populations as a component, but the primary issue is mismanagement from outside one’s borders.
Researchers report 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. 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.
“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,” said Paolo D’Odorico, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and one of the study’s authors. “On average, about one-fourth of the food we eat is available to us through international trade. This globalization of food may contribute to the spread of the effects of local shocks in food production throughout the world.”
This has implications beyond merely localized health and economic prosperity, as such crises can also trigger wider, more regional political instability.
It has been well documented in papers such as National Security Memorandum 200 that shortages can be orchestrated and seized upon to destabilize areas that have been targeted for corporate-government takeover, essentially turning food into a weapon.