Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Industrialization Of China Increases Fragility Of Global Food Supply

Date:
January 22, 2009
Source:
University of Leeds
Summary:
Global grain markets are facing breaking point according to new research into the agricultural stability of China. Experts predict that if China's recent urbanization trends continue, and the country imports just 5 percent more of its grain, the entire world's grain export would be swallowed whole.

Global grain markets are facing breaking point according to new research by the University of Leeds into the agricultural stability of China.

Related Articles


Experts predict that if China's recent urbanisation trends continue, and the country imports just 5% more of its grain, the entire world's grain export would be swallowed whole.

The knock-on effect on the food supply - and on prices - to developing nations could be huge.

Sustainability researchers have conducted a major study into the vulnerability of Chinese cropland to drought over the past 40 years, which has highlighted the growing fragility of global grain supply. Increased urban development in previously rich farming areas is a likely cause.

"China is a country undergoing a massive transformation, which is having a profound effect on land use," says Dr Elisabeth Simelton, research fellow at the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, and lead author of the study. "Growing grain is a fundamentally low profit exercise, and is increasingly being carried out on low quality land with high vulnerability to drought."

The study looked at China's three main grain crops; rice, wheat and corn, to assess how socio-economic factors affect their vulnerability to drought. Researchers compared farming areas with a resilient crop yield with areas that have suffered large crop losses with only minor droughts.

They found that traditionally wealthy coastal areas are just as susceptible to drought as areas with poor topography in the east of the country.

"Quality land is increasingly being used for high profit crops, such as vegetables and flowers. The impact of this on local and global economies is an issue that the newly created Centre for Climate Change, Economics and Policy (CCCEP) will address," explains Dr Simelton.

CCCEP is a partnership between the University of Leeds and the London School of Economics. Its main objectives include developing better climate change models and understanding how developing countries can adapt to climate change.

At the moment the Chinese government claims that China is 95% self sufficient in terms of grain supply. If China were to start importing just 5% of its grain (to make up a shortfall produced by low yields or change of land use to more profitable crops) the demand would hoover up the entire world's grain export.

The pressure on grain availability for international grain markets could, in turn, have a huge knock-on effect. Poorer countries are particularly vulnerable, as demonstrated by the 2007-2008 food crisis.

Published in the journal Environmental Science and Policy, the study used provincial statistics of harvests and rainfall together with qualitative case studies to establish the differences between land that is sensitive to drought and land that is not.

"One aim of this research is better understanding of the socio-economic responses to difficult conditions so that we can improve models of climate change" says Dr Simelton.

"These trends of urbanisation are also happening in India, with the population predicted to keep on rising until at least 2050. Ultimately the limiting factor for grain production is land, and the quality of that land."

The research is part of the Quantifying and Understanding the Earth System (QUEST) project and has been funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). QUEST aims to look at global scale impacts of climate change across a range of areas including fisheries, agriculture, and epidemiology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leeds. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Leeds. "Industrialization Of China Increases Fragility Of Global Food Supply." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090121122826.htm>.
University of Leeds. (2009, January 22). Industrialization Of China Increases Fragility Of Global Food Supply. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090121122826.htm
University of Leeds. "Industrialization Of China Increases Fragility Of Global Food Supply." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090121122826.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tesla 'Insane Mode' Gives Unsuspecting Passengers the Ride of Their Life

Tesla 'Insane Mode' Gives Unsuspecting Passengers the Ride of Their Life

RightThisMinute (Jan. 29, 2015) If your car has an "Insane Mode" then you know it&apos;s fast. Well, these unsuspecting passengers were in for one insane ride when they hit the button. Tesla cars are awesome. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com
Now Bill Gates Is 'Concerned' About Artificial Intelligence

Now Bill Gates Is 'Concerned' About Artificial Intelligence

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) Bill Gates joins the list of tech moguls scared of super-intelligent machines. He says more people should be concerned, but why? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are We Winning The Fight Against Ebola?

Are We Winning The Fight Against Ebola?

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) The World Health Organization announced the fight against Ebola has entered its second phase as the number of cases per week has steadily dropped. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook Rides Video, Mobile Waves To A Huge Quarter

Facebook Rides Video, Mobile Waves To A Huge Quarter

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) Mobile advertising now accounts for almost three quarters of Facebook’s total ad revenue. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins