Factors affecting food security

Food security is a measure of the availability of food required to support people of a household, region, country or any specified area. It is a measure of how much food there is, if it is of suitable quality and whether people can access it.

Having fully stocked supermarket shelves is something that perhaps some of us might take for granted. However, this high level of food security is not experienced by all people. In some parts of the world there is a shortage of food, which can result in starvation and death. The United Nations estimates that over 20 000 people die each day from hunger or hunger-related causes.

Food security is reduced by:

  • the increase in human population, as birth rates are increasing and many people have better access to medical care
  • changing diets mean scarce food resources are transported to be sold to other areas from areas which need them
  • new pests and pathogens that attack crops and farm animals
  • environmental changes such as global warming
  • increased costs of farming
  • armed conflicts

Finding sustainable ways to feed people is an important problem for scientists.