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 estimate that around nine million people die of hunger each year.

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
  • The effects of climate change are making farming more difficult in many areas
  • increased costs of farming
  • armed conflicts

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