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How do we feed the world in the future?

  • Newsnight
  • 15 Apr 08, 02:08 PM

rice_harvest203x100.jpgRising food prices, rising population, growing poverty and climate change are becoming a major problem for the world.

Newsnight is devoting tonight’s programme to examine this global crisis.

We've lined up correspondents in some of the countries feeling the strain most acutely to tell us what the situation is like on the ground.

We have films by Susan Watts – on whether we need a second green revolution – and Liz MacKean - on the £8bn of food we bin every year.

We’ll also have a panel of international experts on hand to discuss the problem.

We’d like to know what you think..

What are the solutions to these problems?

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 03:05 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Roy wrote:

People say that if we all stopped eating meat, that would make an enormous difference because putting over so much land to rearing meat is hugely inefficient. Can we explore that?

The solutions are simple indeed.

  • 3.
  • At 03:14 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • thomas unger wrote:

1) Agriculture is first and foremost a question of the availability of water (70% of all fresh water is used for irrigation). Water is a question of energy, and wide scale use of nuclear is the only non polluting source available. Massive investment in nuclear energy would solve the water shortage without contributing to climate change.
2) Agricultural productivity depends upon climate change. As the planet heats up production decreases. Once again nuclear energy is the ONLY solution.
3) Agriculture depends upon the availability of fertile soil. If the US would stop the stupid ethanol from corn program (stupid because there is practically no saving whatsoever of fossil fuels) the price of grains would come crashing down.

  • 4.
  • At 03:20 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • malcolm whitmore wrote:

The fundamental problem for the human species is that we have taken the "go forth and multiply" edict too seriously'
The answer is to take positive steps to reduce the burden of human overpopulation from the Earth.If we do not set out a reduction strategy ourselves,other forces will do the job for us. There are plenty of contenders lining up ncluding plagues,famine,atomic war and rapid global climate change.
A simple means to achieve the required global population is to limit all families to one child,this gives a rapid halving of the global population.After a period of acclimatistion to the concept,no one will complain as everyone has twice as much as we do now!
The key difference for the reduced population is that there is then the real potential pof living in a sustainable balance with the Earth.

  • 5.
  • At 03:28 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Nigel Timmis wrote:

We've been told for many years that GM crops are the answer to all these problems and more.

Unfortunately the only GM breakthrough I've heard of is self destructing plants so that multinationals can force poor African farmers to purchase new seed each year.

By now we should be able to grow fuel (and possibly food) crops in vast areas of land currently deemed unsuitable for agriculture?

  • 6.
  • At 03:30 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Jim Gaines wrote:

Fourty-some years ago, Dr. Norman Borlaug, U of M agronimist was supposed to have solved world hunger and we started to forget about overpopulation.

The world's leaders always do nothing about global problems until they become a crisis.

  • 7.
  • At 03:31 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • T Geeson wrote:

Developments in farming and technology have delayed Malthusian checks on population growth. However with finite planetary resources it is impossible to provide an ever increasing supply of food for the rapid increase in population.

Developments in agriculture and science may well be able to increase food production for a while longer but as networks in food trade become more complex a breakdown in the network will result in famines in numerous parts of the world.

It would be next to impossible to increase the standard of living of everyone on the planet to a level currently enjoyed by most people in Western Europe. China is the sole country to attempt to tackle the problem with the one child policy. Population growth needs to be curtailed to give us any chance of providing a higher standard of living for the majority of people on the planet.

Currently the social and political climate in this country would not accept an UN/EU directive limiting the number of children a couple or single parent may have. Though it could be tackled with cutting child benefits or modifying them. Possibly linking them with parenting classes which might cut down on the feral youth in certain societies including our own.

The only solution is to have some form of population policy directed at achieving a population growth (+ or -) towards an optimum population level with the right balance of social, educational and technological skills.

  • 8.
  • At 03:34 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Chris Mumby wrote:

On the 19 March, the UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, made an important statement in the House of Commons setting out a new ‘National Security Strategy’ for the country.

Yet to the amazement of many experts at the time he did not mention "food security".

Another failure of Gordon Brown and this inept government to plan for the future.

  • 9.
  • At 03:36 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Karen Mutch wrote:

Simply - we need fewer people

  • 10.
  • At 03:37 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Bill Kennedy wrote:

We need to disengage from the totally unsustainable consumer-orientated macro-economic model that pervades the way the world system operates. The issues are complex but the luxury of life-style choices for the minority of the world's population can no longer be sustained in the face of the majority poor and an ailing planet. The rich in society's such as USA are over-developed at the expense of the poorest in the under-developed countries.Crunch time is coming! We are on a disaster trajectory. Legislation to curve the excesses, coupled with simplified lifestyles, might just save us - but it may be too late.

  • 11.
  • At 03:37 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • joyce wrote:

we don't really have a food shortage. we just have some people having too much and others too little!

  • 12.
  • At 03:53 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Bill Kennedy wrote:

We need to disengage from the totally unsustainable consumer-orientated macro-economic model that pervades the way the world system operates. The issues are complex but the luxury of life-style choices for the minority of the world's population can no longer be sustained in the face of the majority poor and an ailing planet. The rich in society's such as USA are over-developed at the expense of the poorest in the under-developed countries.Crunch time is coming! We are on a disaster trajectory. Legislation to curve the excesses, coupled with simplified lifestyles, might just save us - but it may be too late.

One of the most prevalent issues we see regarding agricultural sustainability in both European and North American areas is that the children of families whom used to live off the land - are actually moving off the land, or selling the land, or converting the land into non-farming properties. In some cases this leaves the parents there alone, too old now to tend to the land or to negotiate the deals to have the land tended for during harvest times. On the other hand, it is difficult to not sympathize with some of the children who are no longer interested due to the cost of living and the world economies. One thing that I have seen work well is the development of a local (city or private) consortium that can help with the burden of land management, harvesting and sales. It hurts to visit Italy and American farm properties and discover that their crops are let to wither away.

  • 14.
  • At 03:59 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Amrish wrote:

The problem isn't about the second Green Revolution,as there isn't any response to the first one yet.Awareness isn't the problem instead rules and orders should be framed.In today's world everyone wanna live in a luxurious manner thinking of their own little circle of life.Man must think of the future world which is going to suffer to its worst.When rules are imposed with necessary penalty we will end up with a Greener place to live in.

As for food the producers must be respected(not in words) and must be given maximum benefits.The growing population,the major problem to everything.This is the first thing to look upon to,solving this will be through a hard path.'We Two Ours ONE' must be strictly followed.The faster we solve the above problems we will be off the other problems(poverty and climatic change).


I would always like to share my ideas in this context a lot.Thanks for giving me this little comment space.

  • 15.
  • At 03:59 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • reggie richardson wrote:

Instead of trying to increase food production.
Try to reduce population.

  • 16.
  • At 04:00 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Ramesh Kuru wrote:

Couples before producing children should obtain license or permit. It is proof of responsibility and obligation. Today even in refugee camps where millions stretch out their hands for food handouts there are more and more children being produced in squalour. China's example is worth looking at for the sake of peace on earth and human dignity.

  • 17.
  • At 04:02 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Pat Cull wrote:

Dig for victory - overseas as well.

  • 18.
  • At 04:09 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • dondilly wrote:

The major steps the EU can make is to stop paying farmers to stop paying farmers for keeping fields out of use and scrapping all production quotas.

The other is to properly address something the EU side stepped during EU expansion and that was investment in East European agriculture. Places such as Romania and Poland offer vast untapped agricultural resources and the added jobs and wealth bought to those countries might reduce the immigration crisis to boot.

Any surplus grain,rape seed, sugar etc not used for human food or animal feed can either be exported or turned into ethanol or biodesiel that should reduce demand on international supplies and also reduce demand for rice as abiofuell source.

The fact The Eu are paying western farmers to sit on their hands and making little or no attempt to invest in east european farms is irresponsible at best.

  • 19.
  • At 04:17 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • LtCol Cliff Dempster PhD wrote:

It was bound to come to this:

We can feed the hungry or we can keep
driving our fuel- (and now food!) guzzling SUV's.

  • 20.
  • At 04:23 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Sarah wrote:

Supermarkets should not be allowed to throw away every single thing that 'has' to be discarded because of its expiration date. Even the bins outside are locked, with a padlock, to make sure that no one gets it once it has been thrown away. The food that gets chucked is almost always in perfect condition, it could at least go towards a homeless shelter or somewhere where it could be put to good use (and most of it can be frozen to be used later). We all know that pretty much everything lasts much longer than the date stamped on the top. Binbag after binbag is thrown away at the end of each day, in each supermarket. I understand that most shops' main concern is their profit, and that if people had the opportunity to get their hands on the food after it had been thrown away instead of having to pay for it, then they wouldn't pay for it, but locking unused food away helps no one.

Or seeing as obesity seems to be such a problem how about everyone who has access to food aplenty just buys and eats a little less, so that more people can eat. Shrink the bulgy waistline, feed the planet.

  • 21.
  • At 04:24 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • reggie richardson wrote:

Reduce population

  • 22.
  • At 04:28 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Samba Bah wrote:

i don't think there is a shortage in the world. the problem has to do with distribution. the amount of food thrown away in the west can feed all the hungry people in Africa and Asia. people like Bill Gates can feed the whole of The Gambia for years but the will not help the poor and needy , instead they will concentrate on making more which they really don't need.
i think the world should try to borrow the practice of Zakat from Islam.
so that the world's rich will help the poor from whom they make their monies.

  • 23.
  • At 04:31 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • shantaben patel wrote:

no money on nuclear or other weapons of distruction and money spent on organic crops. each household encouraged to grow as much as can forvrequirem,emnts vegetables

  • 24.
  • At 04:35 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Norman Abbasi wrote:

I think this whole 'global food crisis' has been caused by few factors, i-e,
Due to Bio-fuel cultivation area for food crops has declined causing farmers to grow 'Oil' in their fields with high earning potential. The opportunity cost has gone up resulting in food pricing to increase.
Second factor is, due to anarchy in financial markets investors are now turning their attention to lucrative commodity market. 'Speculative tactics’ have resulted in food pricing going up, because its all based on the golden principle of demand and supply. Speculators would get hold of food commodities and would wait for its price to go up to make 'adequate returns'.
Does it always have to be in this way?

I think problems on food insufficency is lack of commitment of te world to see that, every region (continent) is capable of feeding it self. This is by having technical know-how.
Africa is being maginalised by so-called world powers and always remotely dictated what to do.
This makes it dependent forever which is dooming it today.
Lets take examples from China and India, both were third world countries but today no difference with the so-called west.
Self reliance is the best and the so-called west should stop brainwashing Africans with the believing that,no progress for Africa witout west. Our great grands fathers survive well without the so-called west. Why not us?

  • 26.
  • At 04:38 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • shantaben patel wrote:

no money on nuclear or other weapons of distruction and money spent on organic crops. each household encouraged to grow as much as can forvrequirem,emnts vegetables

  • 27.
  • At 04:39 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Norman Abbasi wrote:

I think this whole 'global food crisis' has been caused by few factors, i-e,
Due to Bio-fuel cultivation area for food crops has declined causing farmers to grow 'Oil' in their fields with high earning potential. The opportunity cost has gone up resulting in food pricing to increase.
Second factor is, due to anarchy in financial markets investors are now turning their attention to lucrative commodity market. 'Speculative tactics’ have resulted in food pricing going up, because its all based on the golden principle of demand and supply. Speculators would get hold of food commodities and would wait for its price to go up to make 'adequate returns'.
Does it always have to be in this way?

  • 28.
  • At 04:39 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Nigel Timmis wrote:

We've been told for many years that GM crops are the answer to all these problems and more.

Unfortunately the only GM breakthrough I've heard of is self destructing plants so that multinationals can force poor African farmers to purchase new seed each year.

By now we should be able to grow fuel (and possibly food) crops in vast areas of land currently deemed unsuitable for agriculture?

  • 29.
  • At 04:44 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • kabanda Charles wrote:

In africa its all about supportig,education and sensitising comunities about the causes of hunger.

In uganda we are cuting trees every where for cooking porpuses,government needs to subdise power e.g. hydro pwr so that the demand on trees is reduced.Adverse climatic conditions will also be prented and hence hunger

  • 30.
  • At 04:49 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • James Fleming wrote:

I have already sent an e-mail about last night's outburst by Jeremy Paxman about climate change causing starvation in the next five years.

My plea is for sensible, balanced discussion of the factors influencing the climate of the earth. Forget the Al Gore stuff and send Susan Watts and her colleagues on a sabbatical.

....and in the words of Michael Winner: "Calm down, Jeremy"

Jim Fleming

  • 31.
  • At 04:50 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • David Stockdale wrote:

Population growth must be controlled there is no reasonable alternative, governments the world over must grasp the "vote diminishing nettle" and come to an acceptable consensus with their people.
Additionally we should not be producing biofuels from food crops such as maize and wheat.
It is proven now that more a efficient way of producing them is achieved by using the course grasses that are available in abundance although, once again, the right balance of arable land used to grow them must be struck.

Coming down to a more mundane level a very high percentage of people in the developed world eat far too much for their own good and a reduction in that direction would achieve a considerable benefit

  • 32.
  • At 04:51 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Rajiv Ranasinghe wrote:

Much of what has been said by others is true. We in the West waste too much of the food we are supplied. perhaps GM might help to produce more food and forcing people to have smaller families might limit the number of mouths to feed.

The problem with these solutions are that we need to impose a totalitarian regime across the world to impose fines on those who waste food, have too many babies and force commercialism on subsistent farmers.

Perhaps a short term fix might be to put more effort into solving some of the endemic problems of food production. That is reducing waste. By improving the storage facilities for crops and developing an efficient transportation infrastructure less of what is produced in the so-called Third World will be lost.

Finally, in an ideal world nations will get together and set up an international food storage facility where supplies can be held to moderate prices in the world market and release supplies whenever shortages occur.

  • 33.
  • At 04:51 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • kabanda Charles wrote:

In africa its all about supportig,education and sensitising comunities about the causes of hunger.

In uganda we are cuting trees every where for cooking porpuses,government needs to subdise power e.g. hydro pwr so that the demand on trees is reduced.Adverse climatic conditions will also be prented and hence hunger

BROWSING FOR FOOD

The problem is people; but not stomachs – minds. Science is now so mixed up with Mammon, show-biz (the Hawking/Dawkins effect) and politics, it cannot be trusted. We no longer measure the do-able but pursue the screw-able. Those who have not had an old fashioned instruction in science – logical thought, where every apparent truth is, ultimately, a working hypothesis (Al Gore, take note) – are easily led into “eureka” and panic, by turns. And there is no shortage of the stage struck up there doing the turns.
There is water in the sea and a lot of nutrients – don’t be deterred by 3% salt. Many deserts used to be fertile and might be again. A few key words put into your browser will re-set the mind to “thoughtful” rather than “doomed”. Here’s one to start with: ALGAE (pond life). But what to do about those other pond life is another problem altogether.

  • 35.
  • At 04:55 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Ernesto Chavez wrote:

Of course there are many ways to feed all the people, if that were our goal.

How much should we invest in finding new ways? In fighting pollution and global warming? How much in producing fresh water from sea water? In GM food? How much do we spend in wars and weapons?

We´ll reach our goal, whichever goal we choose!

GM food poses no danger, it's a huge solution for feeding people, if only we wouldn't care that much of "it's kind of tasty" as I once read.

  • 36.
  • At 04:55 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • bridgetkindle wrote:

If we've got some black sheeps in the midst of the white ones, this doesn't mean all are black.There is surely food shortage,but this doesn't mean it's the whole world experiencing this and other listed problems.The whole country in the planet"earth"should be a major producer of food without reliance on other nations,food first and the other problems can be tackled.

  • 37.
  • At 05:02 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • JFP wrote:

Why should ordinary people be expected to pay for the greed and total incompetence of bankers, their regulators and politians?
If Gordon Brown was in any way sincere in claiming to help "the people" to whom he was elected to serve, then he shoulld order the banks to cut interest rates and if they continued to refuse then he should order his Darling Chancellor to levy a "Win Fall" tax on those very institutions on a daily rate on all their world wide profits until they complied. Why should ordinary decent and honest tax payers have to pay to bail-out the same very people who got us into this crisis in the first place?

  • 38.
  • At 05:11 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Ivor Love wrote:

Dera Sir

I have been aware of the global problems of your Newsnight planned discussion, for over 30 years.

A far superior source than your sources and the scientist of today "pinpointed" the coming problems and pointed to the solution, long ago.

I mean NO disrespect by my comments, so please NOT be offended. In fact i think it "commendable" that you would bring this subject to the public, pointing to the seriousness of it.

I would NOT expect you to air my comments publicly,that might be to contravercial for Newsnight.

However I would like to think however, that whoever reads this, will take it as serious as your program. In the bible read about the problems of today. MATHEW CHAPTER 24: Verses 7,8, and 21. And 2 TIMOTHY CHAPTER 3: VERSES 1-5

Then read the "Solution." in the bible the book of DANIEL CHAPTER 2 verse 44. And The last book of the Bible REVELATION CHAPTER 21: VERSES 5 AND 4.

No man on earth could fortell todays serious problems and have the power to correct them once for all time. Except Jesus christ 2000 years ago.

Yours faithfully Ivor Love

  • 39.
  • At 05:14 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Vania Mendes wrote:

This global food crisis will affect us all and it should be of extreme concern especially to those of us living in the privileged west. The immediate response and actions of world leaders and organisations to fight the current catastrophe is crucial to millions of people but we also have to ask: how did we get here?
We also have to talk about a change in people’s mentality and about the impact of individual actions and choices on others. We have to talk about the waste of food that we witness in countries like Britain where one third of food is going to the rubbish bin. I hope this crisis can help people to open their eyes and start respecting other human beings if not else by respecting food and the privilege of affording to go a supermarket.

  • 40.
  • At 05:19 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • sanitychecker wrote:

We need a new mindset, whereby we VALUE everything more -- a bit of WW2 old-fashioned rationing would not come amiss, and would be character-building! -- we know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Also, more self-discipline to CONSUME LESS. We should be eating what we need, not what the tv and media ads tell us we ought to want - the days of "This is not just any [fill in the gap], but *&* [fill in the gap]" must surely be over?! We ALL need to GROW UP and take personal responsibility - and that includes families we have seen on the tv news recently in, for example, the Gaza Strip, with TEN children, and NO MEANS OF SUPPORT (other than food aid from international agencies). Does Not Compute.

  • 41.
  • At 05:21 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Sami Mukhtar wrote:

I'm a sudanese living in sudan I can confidently answer your question how to feed the world in the future?by developing countries like sudan if we can keep politics out of it.We have abandonce of land and water which we don't know what to do with,WITH CAPITAL,KNOW HOW AND GOOD WILL JUST FROM SUDAN YOU CAN FEED HALF OF THE WORLD.

  • 42.
  • At 05:29 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Alain wrote:

Food shortage! food shortage! what food shortage are we talking about? tomorrow is bin collection day in Basildon, check the rubbish bin. Its a big shame we created the consumer animal and now are surprise at the rate at which he is consuming everything! Well, only the well-off should be worried actually many people all around the world have being living in the margins for time immemorial.

  • 43.
  • At 05:30 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • charlie b wrote:

The core problem here is overpopulation.
It's impossible to enforce but I think people should be encouraged to limit their progeny to two. Those people who have 4 or 5 kids are just arrogant thinking the world needs more of their offspring... WE DON'T.
As for that couple in the US somewhere that just had their 17th child.. DON'T get me started...
The most environmentally responsible thing anyone can do isn't recycle or use the car less, but have less children, thus reducing the demand on all of these resources, less cars, less housing = more greenspace, less food production = less GM and fertiliser pollution.
The issue is no one in power would EVER be prepared to enforce something so controversial. It's up to us, the individual, to make the correct personal choice.

  • 44.
  • At 05:31 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • mervyn wrote:

food shortages blame the world leaders
butter grain mountains who got these to disappear same old story them at the TOP

  • 45.
  • At 05:38 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Nicholas Fear wrote:

Whatever happened to the EU food mountains that we used to hear about? Have they completely disappeared? Maybe a review of the CAP in the EU and the associated set aside scheme would be useful.

It seems ironic that the issue of a shortage of food in the world is at a time when we hear regularly about the problem of overweight people particularly in this country and the US. Maybe not wasting food would reduce demand in western society but that would not necessarily solve the problem of say the lack of rice in the Phillipines.

The issue of using land for biofuels also needs to be examined closely. If there were more hybrid cars available - that also retained their used value - fuel consumption would theoretically reduce. This in turn would surely reduce the need for biofuels and thus enabling increased production of staple foods.

The solutions are simple indeed.

  • 47.
  • At 05:49 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Peter Dewar-Finch wrote:

Plainly. There are too many people on the planet.

The earth cannot sustain a population of a destructive species like humans as we aproach 7 billion.

We have been very keem to control animal populations, but many people cannot comprehend this problem in relation to themselves.

The natural way of keeping a balanced poulation has, for many millennia, been disease, wars, and climate change.

Medical science has gone mad in trying to cure every disease and make people live longer. Neither should we be contstantly interfering in other people's wars. And I'm sure a lot of people would appreciate it if ignorant politicians were to shut up about climate change.

Giving aid to foreign countries is a mistake. I have not given a penny to charity since these problems became noticable a number of years ago. Charity begins at home.

Peter Dewar-Finch.

  • 48.
  • At 06:01 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Nicholas Fear wrote:

Whatever happened to the EU food mountains that we used to hear about? Have they completely disappeared? Maybe a review of the CAP in the EU and the associated set aside scheme would be useful.

It seems ironic that the issue of a shortage of food in the world is at a time when we hear regularly about the problem of overweight people particularly in this country and the US. Maybe not wasting food would reduce demand in western society but that would not necessarily solve the problem of say the lack of rice in the Phillipines.

The issue of using land for biofuels also needs to be examined closely. If there were more hybrid cars available - that also retained their used value - fuel consumption would theoretically reduce. This in turn would surely reduce the need for biofuels, thus enabling increased production of staple foods.

  • 49.
  • At 06:05 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Chris Kinder wrote:

'Go forth and multiply' and the giver of all good things will give you child benefit for ever and ever. The Government will find all manner of means to sustain your living without you having to go out to work so you may continue increasing the population - whilst other mortals work for a living to pay taxes to support this crazy way our society encourages any number of children, whether married or not. The current news of a mother with four children and four fathers, and not fit to care for any of them, except the taxpayer, is another example of irresponsible lack of family planning. Why do we allow child support regardless of the number of children? Should it stop at one?

  • 50.
  • At 06:09 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • George wrote:

I hope the program does not "solely focus" (GB's words) on feeding the population. There are other important aspects of global crisis.

One contribution to the solutions would be a vast expansion of "green roofs" on new (and some existing) buildings.

Green roofs could even be used for food or fuel farming!

And bio-fuel from plankton.

Also micro-chp has vast potential.

  • 51.
  • At 06:35 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • David Kingsnorth wrote:

I agree with several of your other contributers, inasmuch as we should reduce this manic population explosion.

  • 52.
  • At 06:46 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Tarunendranath Banerjee wrote:

The Economic system change and birth control are the two way approach to solve this big and wide food shortage problem.
For economic system change we are to resort to mechanical devices and robotic assistance to reduce dependence on human hands.
For birth control. we are to resort to self control and divine thinking.

BROWSING FOR FOOD

The problem is people; but not stomachs – minds.. Science is now so mixed up with Mammon, show-biz (the Hawking/Dawkins effect) and politics, it cannot be trusted. We no longer measure the do-able but pursue the screw-able. Those who have not had an old fashioned instruction in science – logical thought, where every apparent truth is, ultimately, a working hypothesis (Al Gore, take note) – are easily led into “eureka” and panic, by turns. And there is no shortage of the stage struck up there doing the turns.
There is water in the sea and a lot of nutrients – don’t be deterred by 3% salt. Many deserts used to be fertile and might be again. A few key words put into your browser will re-set the mind to “thoughtful” rather than “doomed”. Here’s one to start with: ALGAE (pond life). But what to do about those other pond life is another problem altogether.

  • 54.
  • At 06:51 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Claudio wrote:

But wasn't globalisation the solution to the world's problems?

  • 55.
  • At 06:52 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Akande B.Olalekan wrote:

The bible said we collect from the poor and give th rich that what is happen country that have much to give are the one getting poorer everyday until we turnaway.from bad habit and have the fear of Allah in our hearth that when thing we go well in this life.Isalam is complete way of life.

  • 56.
  • At 07:22 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • angel angelov wrote:

I think the real problem nowdays is deforestation of the earth.

  • 57.
  • At 07:38 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Eunice Ridge wrote:

when we are asked to send more food etc to the third world ...all i see is loads of women with lots of children
no-on ever mentions sending birth contol pills etc..

Hello everyone!
With all eagerness, am here to comment towards this food problem,Is agriculture must first be pursue to it extinct and extreme,and gonna assure that this food crisis will be a matter of history believe that.
my sincerely thanks straightly goes to the cooperate affairs and manager in control.

  • 59.
  • At 08:02 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • C Kirk Osterland wrote:

We are confronting the dwindling,to the point of true shortage of many of the planet's resources that are essential to man's comfortable existence.(at the same time we are driving many of the worlds animal species towards extinction as we populate all of the land.) The problem is one of population - the driver of all human needs. China has come closest to showing us the way towards population control. No country or territory should have a population that it cannot provide for or sustain.

  • 60.
  • At 08:11 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • C Kirk Osterland wrote:

We are confronting the dwindling,to the point of true shortage of many of the planet's resources that are essential to man's comfortable existence.(at the same time we are driving many of the worlds animal species towards extinction as we populate all of the land.) The problem is one of population - the driver of all human needs. China has come closest to showing us the way towards population control. No country or territory should have a population that it cannot provide for or sustain.

  • 61.
  • At 08:12 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Jonboy wrote:

The root cause of the unsustainability is the rapidly rising world population, expected to leap from today's 6.5 billion to 9 billion in 2050 - a 45 per cent rise in under 45 years. If you think global warming is bad now, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Population growth is behind virtually any social problem you care to name, yet the issue itself is rarely aired, and isn't even being discussed directly this week on Newsnight.
The world must start addressing this crisis now, and can begin with Roman Catholic dogma against the use of prophylactics.

  • 62.
  • At 08:18 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Zubair Aslam Marwat wrote:

Human Being is the most superior and blessed creature of the universe.If we have to overcome the crisis of food shortage and other such ones being faced by the world, then we have to bring Peace and Love to the world.Peace and Love can be attained by Non violence,Poverty Alleviation,Interfaith Harmony and Education.Let us make world heaven by Peace and Love.Bulltes and bombs are creating hatred and destruction. Let us unite to bring Peace and Love, Interfaith Harmony,To Alleviate poverty and change the mindset of war and hatred through Education not bulltes and bombs

  • 63.
  • At 08:32 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • John Coombes wrote:

As long as we use the law of supply and demand to manage the resources of this planet we cannot help but shoot ourselves in the foot.
We need leadership that can take us in a new direction with out transport requirements, whilst introducing a basis of food supply that is not linked to the creation of profit but the nutrition of our species.
Continuing with our current and outdated beliefs guarantees that a nuclear war is not far off!

  • 64.
  • At 10:42 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • natalie c wrote:

obviously not a solution but a small start would be to encourage supermarkets to stop selling pre-packaged fruit and veg. I hate throwing away food but find lots of produce can only be bought in large packets (or multi-packs). When you are only feeding a small family, food goes off faster than it can be used. Likewise with many other supermarket products. Packet sizes are too big or buy one get one free encourages over buying.

  • 65.
  • At 11:20 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • simon beavis wrote:

10 years ago i conducted trials in the uk on b.u.g.s non symbiotic nitrogen fixing bacteria we found a 50% reduction in costs and a 20% to 200% increase in yield for what was then a pioneer organic product despite this the soil association did not support its use as a transitional tool! instead supporting white clover leys as a mixed farming alternative.giving outdated and ignorant advice to growers e.g "keep sheep as well as apples in your orchard".this would have resulted in the ruin of the trees! at www.be-the-solution.co.uk we have a local forest farming initiative that will solve the problems of food shortage if land is set aside for this.

  • 66.
  • At 11:21 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Trevor Kitchen wrote:

I sent this to BBC over 2 years ago and was invited to voice my opinion on BBC radio with the experts who told me I was wrong and this is not the problem.
It's about time we humans realised how we have changed the environment these past few generations.
I accept I have also contributed to the ozone depletion. Since 1967, I have been flying around the planet and have seen obvious & drastic changes in cloud formations and weather conditions. When I pointed this out to friends, their responses were always the same stupid and ignorant remarks like " the earth has infinite reserves", and "the it's haze not pollution in the air. What would these same people say today, I wonder? Surely other people have witnessed the damage too? We can't all be so blind and ignorant as to truly think our style of living has had no impact on the environment nor affected extinction of some of the weaker dependent species? (animals).
The simple fact is, there are too many people for the earth to support and the only solution is negative growth population for the next couple of generations. This hopefully will be in time to allow some reversal of the environmental damage caused by too many humans and also give our wonderful & generous planet the breathing space it so drastically needs to recover. After all, aren't these natural catastrophes our earth is experiencing brought about by mother nature giving OBVIOUS warnings that she cannot bear the load we are demanding of her?

We humans are not the only residents and should learn that over breeding is the major cause of most disasters in the world today. So let's all reduce to 2 child births per family for the next 100 years and get the population back to a sustainable level of 2.5 billion. We all need to remember, there are over 385 people per square km in UK alone, that means a living space of only 50m2 for each and every person, think about that! How can we really believe each person can live off the natural resources of 50m2 without major environmental issues. The planet's average is about 185 people per square km. The planet simply cannot sustain this level of strain.
It's taken only 25 years for the population to more than double from 2.5 billion to today's 6.5 billion and scientists tell us there will be 9.5 billion by 2050 but if the past is an indicator of the future, why is no one saying the 6.5 billion will double in the next 25 years to 13 billion by 2032? A frightening thought, although I doubt we'll have sufficient food or water to get that far.
So isn't it a better Idea to have a smaller population and improved quality of life for those that live in harmony on this planet? If we humans don't wake up and aim for negative growth population soon, mother earth will naturally retaliate and do it for us with dire consequences for all our children. Our children are innocent, it is the adults who over breed, not children. Adults in this past generation have been spoilt and have overindulged raping the planet of it's resources for personal material gain and greed. The least we can do is teach our children (and they, theirs) to have less children. The rest will automatically correct itself as we see our demands for natural resources reduce and the planet recovering...........slowly then our children's children and all of nature will benefit a cleaner & safer future.

  • 67.
  • At 11:21 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • alienlife wrote:


Why doesnt our government fund research into green technology such as the compressed air car currently being developed in india. Is it due to the fact that "air" would be difficult to tax.

As mentioned in previous blogs world population growth is a problem.

NOT mentioned - much of the western food production is used to produce unhealthy, sugary non nutritional food.

  • 68.
  • At 11:21 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • John C wrote:

All across the EU, landowners are still paid taxpayeys money for growing absolutely nothing, this is called the set aside scheme, it is still active. 15% of land is "set aside".

Why would farmers take the risk of growing something if they can get paid the same by the taxpayer for growing nothing.

This problem is caused by a failed political policy., and the politicians are not being held to account, it all gets blamed on "climate change".

  • 69.
  • At 11:22 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Preeda Chantagul wrote:

All problems we face can be somewhat minimized if all follow the middle path advocated the Buddha. The middle path will help to minimize the demand for things produced by using world resouces. Resources used as well as global warming can be avoided or at least minimized.

  • 70.
  • At 11:23 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Christine England wrote:

Restaurants should be encouraged to serve food in a variety of portion sizes. 'One size fits all' makes no sense. I have a small appetite and hate sending food back to end up in the bin.

  • 71.
  • At 11:28 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • peter watson wrote:

There is no single issue but a complex mix of factors.
One factor that requires immediate resolving is the factor of subsidised farming by the more advance nations, especially the USA, whose policies have led to the almost destruction of Mexican Farmers whose price of corn(maize)cannot compete with the cost of USA imported corn. So Mexico no longer produces sufficient maize for its own consumption.

  • 72.
  • At 11:29 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Lesley Torrance wrote:

I was interested to listen to the discussion tonight but was disappointed that there was lack of detail - as a plant pathologist I have experienced >15-20 years of negative attitude to increased crop productivity. Times have changed and now policy makers and world leaders are beginning to notice that population growth, water shortagess and political pressures to use food crops for biofuels have raised the bar and they are now considering that maybe we do need to increase productivity in a sustainable way.

Fortunately, research has advanced in this period and there are potential solutions but we need to discuss them in a rational way. I am afraid Lord Melchet is living in a 'fools paradise' if he thinks the answer lies only in organic production systems. An example is the 2007 season and problems with late blight of potato - if we relied only on organically produced potatoes - there would have been major crop failures.

Can we please have a sensible debate that includes advances made in plant sciences and modern sustainable agriculture practices.

  • 73.
  • At 11:42 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Christopher Retallack wrote:

The so called solution of genetically modified seeds with specific fertiliser, pesticides and herbicides (definitely still needed whatever the publicity says)a)is no solution for the poor farmer who cannot pay for this b)pushes other farmers into the hands of the multinational seed and chemical companies c) favours large producers of crops for export d)has considerable health risks for growers and consumers c)depends on increasingly expensive oil based products. In the end we shall have to rely increasingly on local sustainably produced food, implying a simpler but healthier diet for us and our planet Earth.
If only this had been the real motivation for Mugabe's 'land reform' programme, he could have set an example for all Africa. Feeding people often comes second to making maximum profits from land ownership /agricultural production.

  • 74.
  • At 11:43 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • robin wrote:

Lord Melchett was right - high crop production from the land has only been made possible 'technologically' with very high use of petrochemicals used as fertilisers and insecticides.

Organic agriculture will suit a future with less availability of oil - it will become too expensive for farmers to use, so they will need to re-learn traditional chemical free farming methods.

  • 75.
  • At 11:47 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • John Andrew wrote:

Re-invent animal feed from wasted human food (we're talking hundreds of thousands of tonnes annually).

The Western World feeds livestock on premium agricultural products with the obvious equal reduction in what is available for human consumption (particularly in poor countries)and escalation of prices.

Re-processed waste food (mainly from food processing plants)was used as animal feed in Europe, but no longer. The major foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001 was initially blamed on badly processed pig feed, but ultimately no evidence was found to support this.

New processing facilities would negate any possibility of contamination (as with any other processed food), would take pressure off demand, lower prices and reduce land fill.


  • 76.
  • At 11:50 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • B Rees wrote:

What a surprise, all of a sudden people are worried about where their food is coming from. For the last ten years or so they have been quite happy to enjoy the benefits of cheap food with little thought of how it was produced, quite happy to import it from all over the world, without a thought of farmers being squeezed and battered to accept rock bottom prices.In the UK alone thousands of small family farms have gone out of business due to appalling returns. When something is too cheap people don't appreciate it, hence the huge amount of food being wasted in our bins every week. Perhaps now people will give food, and the people who produce it, the respect it deserves and

  • 77.
  • At 11:51 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Jennifer wrote:

Regarding wasting food, two things would help a lot: supermarkets need to make 'loose' food available e.g. potatoes, apples, bananas, chicken breasts so that customers don't have to buy more than they need. Bananas
don't have to be put in plastic bags, neither do huge quantities of potatoes and chicken breasts should be available singly not in packs of two or four. Secondly, schools need to put food management classes on the curriculum and make them compulsory.
Without wishing to sound smug, I can honestly say I don't waste anything - partly because my generation (b.1936)
had it instilled into us to finish what was on our plate and mothers shopped accordingly. Shopping economically does NOT have to mean buying the cheapest and most tasteless. For example, for my familly of three adults I last week bought a large, free range chicken from my local butcher at £12. I was able to easilly turn this into four meals, including broth (with added veg) from the carcass. This cost £1 per person per meal. Preparation time took approx.20 minutes per meal (not counting the one and a half hours to roast the chicken (which requires no attention). A further help is to draw up a list of daily menues the day before shopping based on what each member of the family will be doing that week, then draw up the shopping list with reference to the
list of meals and each person's appetite. NEVER impulse buy and it's possible to eat well, nutritiously and without waste, if our children (and adults at adult education classes) are taught how to do so.

The comment made that it takes 8 tonnes of wheat to produce 1 tonne of meat is not necessarily true. We have a suckler herd of Red Poll cattle on our organic farm - they eat no wheat or corn at all, only grass and our own hay and haylage. They are an indigenous English breed and as such are good foragers so will fatten on grass, though it takes a longer time. Farmers have been encouraged to go for continental breeds which need feeding on corn and fatten at under 2 years old. They should now be encouraged to return to the native breeds and consumers should be told about the difference between corn fed and grass fed animals. Also the supermarkets should be encouraged to extend their abattoir network so meat can indeed be local. Waitrose, for example, deals with only 2 abattoirs in the country - in Lincoln and York which means it's impossible for farmers in the south west to sell meat to them unless they accept sending their animals on long journeys before slaughter.

  • 79.
  • At 11:52 PM on 15 Apr 2008,
  • Peter Garbutt/Rachel Hardy wrote:

Many of the above posts mention population as the problem.

If the population unchecked is to grow by 50% in 50 years, then by 2100, we will need to feed over 13billion, and by 2150, 20billion, etc.

Clearly, we cannot go on feeding ever greater numbers of people; somewhere, we have to agree to stop population growth.

Of course, with such pressure of numbers, there will most likely be a more organic method of decreasing our numbers; war, drought, famine, disease, climate change, etc.

Doesn't it therefore make much more sense, and isn't it far more humane, to start talking about population limitation now, before such random occurrences inflict so much more suffering on us?

I know it's regarded as politically incorrect to talk about this; but can't anyone else see how much better a soft landing is than a crash landing?

Close to a quarter of the posts on this board mentioned population; so I know I'm not alone.

Thanks for an interesting and serious programme this evening. The problem of course is enormous, but I'd just like to mention a few points that don't seem to have been touched on.
1. Green Revolution
In the discussion involving Bob Watson, Peter Melchett a representative of the agrichem industry, referred to massive yield increases in Egypt. The counter-arguments used against the technical fix argument were the dependence on oil and the health risks. But no-one mentioned the main reason the Green Revolution of the 60s was not a great success. As with so many technocratic solutions, the technologists lacked an understanding of the whole socioeconomic system that were affecting. The super new crop strains gave higher yields, but often only with continuously high inputs of water and chemicals. This was unrealistic in peasant farming communities. Furthermore, indigenous lower-yielding crop varieties fared much better during drought and on poor soils.
2. Agricultural subsidies
The panellists all endorsed the removal of trade barriers but in reality this favours the strong. The EEC Common Agricultural Policy of subsidies & garanteed prices was a disaster for Europe & the developing world, but mainly because it was APPLIED to Europe. However, it would be an excellent approach for poorer countries to encourage subsistence farmers to invest in growing surpluses to feed the rest of their population. As my economics lecturer once said, the best thing we can do with the CAP is to export it!

Incidentally, one of the previous posts suggests that nuclear power is the only longterm solution to global warming. It may provide short-term help but: a) it is not carbon- neutral & b) uranium is a fossil fuel that could run out in a few decades. Wind turbines also use large amounts of concrete and need maintenance. I believe - if it isn't already too late - tide, wave & solar ultimately are the truly sustainable sources, but we need to invest in a lot more R&D to make them so.

  • 81.
  • At 12:13 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • steve wallis wrote:

I have to admit that I am disappointed with the programmes unsustainable world, which wore the badge of propaganda glistening like the atomic and DDT symbols of yesteryear technologies that resolved nothing indeed added to the burden of the ongoing disaster. The programmes totally failed, as is usual with propaganda, to address the real cause, not sustainability or unsustainable, but to criticise the ideology. Obviously all the evidence discussed was based on capitalist economic ideology with no mention at all of other non-market theories of sustainable globalisation. The fundamental problem is not how we deal with the economics of waste and production but why are we discussing economics at all.
As many of the commentators and studio guests said money was not being invested in alternative methods of dealing with the problem, surely then was the time to state the reason why being that so called alternatives are non profitable, we live in a capitalist ideology based on creating huge profits for a minority of humans at the expense of, well, the planet. Every aspect of these programmes endorsed capitalism and never once challenged the ideology. Surely it is simple to see the problem, the problem is nothing challenges the system; instead the debate is the endless discussion of reforming capitalism, or in another way, protecting the minority who own the means of production.
I have commented before, to no avail, on the reluctance of Newsnight to invite opinions, which are equally as valid, from non-capitalist political groups. The whole issue of globalisation is capitalist control; the war being fought is between these minority groups, presented to us as the only way to resolve anything is to not change but reform driven by doom mongering manipulators who are only interested in their own pointless political careers.
Again in the news was the huge profits announced by Tesco, and it really is obvious that these cartels run the show, including Newsnight to the detriment of us all.


  • 82.
  • At 12:14 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • Marianne Morild wrote:

The conservatism inherent in tonight's TV-debate is disappointing. Vegetarianism is not the peak of sacrifice one could commit to. Richard Watson's arguments seem to suggest that there are too many patrons to please, and too little willingness to make bold commitments. Charity begins at home, but we need a little help, in the form of government saying NO. Just say no, a few big, fat, bold NO's. No to cars, no to biofuels, no to plastics, and price meat at it's real cost. Make council-estate block roofs into vegetable patches. Then even us "relatively poor" can compost our scraps even if we don't have a garden. Make the kids grow their own veg in the school yard. Give them a bike. Make buildings self heating by way of architecture. I've heard of energy-generating dance-floors.Science-museum, there's something to explore. If you must incinerate our waste, utilise the heat from that to heat our homes via piped ground heat. This is big in Norway, so it must be good for you. And, for bog's sake, change your bank to an environmentally friendly one, and wipe those oil-stains right off your hands.

  • 83.
  • At 12:16 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • Jim Padfield wrote:

I am a 60 year old farmer. For most of my farming lifetime I have been accused of the crime of producing surpluses. Farming’s punishment has been to hemorrhage our capital and young people through the drain of ever cheaper food. Suddenly seven months ago the world decided there was no surplus. Despite the scars of the last 30 years, I have no doubt farming will not bear a grudge. There is no machine known to man more productive than a farmer with money in his pocket. Predicted famines don’t happen.

  • 84.
  • At 12:38 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • Barbara Rogers wrote:

People expect to much today - we throw away as much food as we eat, this is morally wrong - food is a precious commodity and should be treated as such. Land should not be given over to growing bio-fuels until we have assessed how much land is needed to grow the food we need to eat. If you live in a city or town you do not need a 4 x 4 and if you choose to run one then you should pay - people in rural areas particularly farmers need these vehicles to operate - they are not a 'symbol' but a necessity. Also, the Government has not taken into account the damage bio-fuels can do to some engines, if they insist on increasing the level people could have expensive repair bills ahead.

  • 85.
  • At 12:41 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • Dave Wiltshire wrote:

Brilliant article covering many of the issues that the world faces in the next 40 years. One critical point that was completely ignored but lies at the heart of the problem is population growth.
Surely a basic logical solution to decreasing resources, increasing pollution and many of the other problem the planet faces is population control (a problems for both human and other living organisms).
A 1 child policy over a 40 year period would halve the global population and therefore halve emmisions and consumption.
Why do we ignore population growth? Is it because business needs population growth to grow markets? Is it because world religions are against any form of family planning? Or is it because politicians are too week to face up to the facts?
Sadly to ignore population growth is to condemn billions of future citizens to poverty starvation, conflict and death.
It is time this issue is tackled and and given serious consideration for the sake of humanity.

D Wiltshire
New Zealand

- clean water - repopulate plankton to balance the ocean; filter all ballast from ocean going ships, stop dumping pollution in to the ocean, filter fresh water supplies from salts, fertilizers and chemicals

- Reduce the Beef Industry dependency - use the water and land for growing vegetables instead of grass for cows which harbor diseases now out of control and cause numerous health benefits

- Make strong concerted effort to replace all petroleum products with organic based fuels from switch grass and algae instead of corn or other foods, regardless of the costs to implement as oil will continue to rise in cost due to China's demand

- Force China through international pressure to stop building dirty coal plants

- Enforce restricted fishing zones

- Require all companies to comply with EPA standards much more aggressively

- Elect a US president with an environmental conscious and the strength to enact tough legislation

- Regulate the carbon credit business to be a profitable solution for all companies

- Develop Federal Funds to support Clean technology development

- Make lobbying illegal

I agree with a lot of the posts that there needs to be a decrease in population growth, but how would anyone be able to implement a "one child policy" like China in the rest of the world?

  • 88.
  • At 05:03 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • full_of_wonder wrote:

There need to be two solutions
1. Short term : there is enough food in stock and one can help out the deserving
2. Long term?:
M/s Malcolm whitmore, gaines,geeson, amrish, stockdale, ranasinghe, Charlie b… et al are all right about the primary cause which will not go away for some time whatever we do – over population - although noble souls like "charlie b" advocate "individual measures" !
There is a terrifying potential for catastrophe if this cause is not rooted out

we have religions and religious leaders which or who oppose population control

so the solutions are obvious !

The UN should give food aid only on condition that the recipient countries should agree for population education by the NGOs and agree for population research centers (about which shortly) in their countries .
BBC and CNN and the like should also be fearless and take on any religious leader who opposes these measures
all the do gooder NGOs should stop being politically correct and hammer the message home 24x7 "thou shalt not reproduce" and take on all opposed to its spread e.g., one religious head who just doesn’t connect with reality
As far as the developed world folks -steel your resolve! don’t be bleeding heart liberals and feed sugar to diabetics

Long term , the UN and the developed countries should establish
"population" research centers all over the world and there should be say a biannual review of their work by the UN secretariat and debate on useful directions to achieve

All else is chimera

  • 89.
  • At 06:37 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • antonniv wrote:

Reduce the wastes of food and should be stick to saving both infield and food.It means that we should cut down the real estate and industrial acreages

  • 90.
  • At 06:49 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • Joshua wrote:

Over-population is not so much the problem as it is a question of overconsumption according to authors like Theresa Hayter. Naturally with the world's renewable resources and such, one should be able to safely assume that the entire world population could be fed and provieded for. It is therefore pertinent that we focus on why this is not happening; over-consumption and improper distribution of the world's resources on the part of governments. It is said that the average inhabitant of the richest nations consumes twenty times the amount of their counterparts in less fortunate nations. It is also argued that there is not enough food in the world to provide the world's population with sufficient food, however, studies show that current food production is at 110% of that necessary to everybody a healthy diet.

Is the issue then one of overpopulation or lack of proper leadership?

Of course with the rising occurrences of natural disasters, it might seem that these renewable resources may no longer be renewable. That, i believe is an issue upon which should be tread lightly. It can and cannot be changed/improved.

  • 91.
  • At 06:57 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • Kimera Bernard wrote:

If we can come out and teach people how to use land and keep productive for long time,teach people how to preserve food.Deal with global warming. We have people who have lands fertile and very productive agriculturely but you find they have nothing to saw, hence the land ends up being miss-used. If there is some one who can come and give a hand to such stuations, I think it ca also work.And lastly teach people not to think of only todays food but also involve the future in their minds

  • 92.
  • At 07:46 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • Dawson Tolodi wrote:

FEEDING THE WORLD

The problem the world is facing has nothing to do with the earth failing to produce for its increasing population. The problem, I would agree with Liz, is our own greed and Cain's type of attitude of 'Am I my brother's keeper?'. Binning food is a norm in many households. Overbuy/cook and only throw it away later forgetting the millions of our own kind who can barely afford it.

The world's wealth is in the hands of a few individuals whose spouses do not even visit market places. For instance, a country like Zambia regarded as poor, has a class of its citizenry who only ask a supplier of, say, beaf to deliver several carcasses to their homes in huge trucks - not for sale but for the family's consumption needs. Meanwhile, less than 10KM away lives a family who only can afford a meal after hard work for that same day and thereafter have nothing for the evening.

We should not blame our population growth, for a problem we ourselves have created, thereby justifying artrocities being perpetrated by the likes of Osama Bin Laddin, the inventers HIV/AIDS and anti-life movements (abortionists). Besides there is only one who feeds the world, and that's God. He foretold us about all these problems. You and I do not have any solution for them nomatter the number of fora we will have to talk about them.

  • 93.
  • At 07:55 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • Terence Jeal wrote:

I am a British ex-pat living in a third-world South American country. I found tonight's Newsnight on such an important topic was unbelievably superficial and parochial. It did nothing at all to create a genuine awareness of the vastness of the global problem. Chucking away a bag of Tesco oranges has little or nothing to do with the serious issues that face us, our children and future generations. Mr. Paxman, your hands-in-your-pocket approach to world starvation does you little credit, and highlights the "I'm all right, Jack" attitude that is prevalent in developed countries. Perhaps the first step in attacking the challenges would be to convince the media moguls that they have a social responsability to contribute to the solution by providing serious analysis.

  • 94.
  • At 09:36 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • madugana garba wrote:

the so call super powers should stop wasting money financing attacks and destructions in iraq;afganistan and other places where wars are going on,they should divert the amount they are spending im these countries to solving this global phenomena[food insuficiency].they should encourage agriculture in the developing world where food scarcity is m ore pronounce and high rate of poverty is always on the increase.

  • 95.
  • At 10:06 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • Stephanie Elliott wrote:

It would be wrong for the supermarkets to stop the buy one get one free offers because for those on a low income it helps them to feed their family. I'm a vegetarian on a low income and I buy a lot of Quorn products, but only when they are on offer. I also grow my own veg.

There didn't use to be use by dates on food and often I eat things that are past the use by date, the most recent was Muller fruit corners which were two weeks over and biscuits which were three months over, they tasted great and I came to no harm.

Perhaps we should limited the amount of children per family, the world population is out of control.

  • 96.
  • At 10:12 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • Ian Kidson wrote:

"There are more people alive today than have already lived and died".

Population growth is at the root of the problem but the western worlds politicians of 25 years ago must also bear their share of responsibility for destroying agricultural research facilities.


How to devise the best cost efficient practical solution in excess wate disposal is one of the most serious public health concerns faced by Local Authorities.The solution must have `sustainable' community building answers!

The solutions are clear that Governmnet must pass new legislation that compels manufacturers to use much less packaging in their products sold on the supermarket shelves.Less wate produced equals less waste disposed!

Second,the `sustianable' example in Ludlow is in the van of new `green technology' as the `anaerobic digester' passes the `sustainable' and `Friends of the Earth' test for human and planetary health in the 21st century.

Councils must understand that methods of incinerating the human excess food moutains are potentially leathal in the longer term to human health.

This is due the release of `dioxins' from the ash residual element in the burning process.

The health jury is firmly against any use of incineration on the grounds that it has a real propensity to do serious public health damage.

The alternatives are for Govt. to take the lead and say that they will provide grants to Councils and WRAP Concortia to look at a public health `micro-energy' sustainabele method of `Environmnetal Rob-Cop'.

This method is safe as it uses the methane and butane to fuel the Waste disposal plant and break down the food waste into agregate fertiliser.

"There are more people alive today than have already lived and died".

This is a false and misleading urban legend: https://www.snopes.com/science/stats/dead.asp

  • 99.
  • At 11:37 AM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • Sarah Jones wrote:

I'm bored with the complaints about waste of food and over use of plastic being put wholly on the shoulders of the consumer. What about the sellers - the supermarkets? Fruit and veg are the prime example. We used to be able to buy exactly the number of pieces of fruit we wanted, but now supermarkets pack peaches, plums, apricots and anything they can in chunky plastic containers (usually forcing us to buy more than we would have if we had a choice). They are packed before they are ripe and in many cases you go home, wait for them to ripen and then overnight they turn from being solid as a rock to a mouldy mess. Why can't we buy the exact number we want, that are ripe, and just put them in a paper bag?

If the supermarkets stopped their pre-packed plastic policy forcing us to buy more than we want there would be notably less waste.

  • 100.
  • At 12:37 PM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • Alex (Central London) wrote:

Regarding Newsnight's coverage of the world food/sustainability crisis on Tuesday's programme (14 April), the following practical issue of importance seems to have been completely disregarded:

Talking of waste, we heard a lot about how much food we waste. Causes such as BOGOF supermarket schemes, the non-separation of household waste, were mentioned, among others. However, no mention was made of the fact that supermarkets' labeling practices regarding the 'use by' dates on products (especially fresh produce) is conducive to wastefulness, and fosters misperception in consumers as to what is good food and what is waste.

For example, take fresh lemons, apples, tomatoes or onions: As with any product, what their 'use by' date means to the consumer is that once that date is passed, the product is deemed unsafe to consume and has to be thrown in the bin. Yet, a huge amount of items in the supermarkets remains PERFECTLY safe (and tasty!) even long after the 'use by' date has passed (in the case of the items mentioned above, as long as 1, or even 2, weeks, even if judged by thoroughly conservative standards of food safety!!!). This is objectively true, and I personally witness this every day, in my household and many others: Holding a net of perfectly good lemons over the waste bin, thinking I should throw it because its a few days over the 'limit', when I can see with my own eyes that those lemons are perfectly edible and SHOULD NOT be thrown away. Yet most people, reasonably or not, obey these limits with a certain sense of blind piety...

Sometimes I wonder whether the supermarkets adopt overly conservative 'use by' rules to safeguard themselves against potential legal liability. I do sympathize with the supermarkets on this, but it has to be said this practice, as it stands, is unreasonable, inasmuch as we all throw away good food as a DIRECT RESULT of these rules.

Respectfully,

Alex

  • 101.
  • At 12:55 PM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • EDMOND GICHURU wrote:

I think we have to seriously ask those countries that have not honoured the Kyoto Protocal like USA to do those and not to put their interests ahead of the world.Only then shall we cut down on greenhouse emissions/erase completely and reduce global warming.

Secondly, given the high fuel costs our only salvation lies in alternative sources of fuel for our automobiles and automachines and our other uses.

Lastly,we have enough reasources for the population of the world.The world population currently stands at 6 billion and we can still take in a couple of billions>we need to use our resources responsibly and conservingly!

Regards,

EDMOND GICHURU.
NAIROBI.
KENYA.

  • 102.
  • At 12:56 PM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • daniels makinde wrote:

what i think is the solution to the problem is that agriculture should be encourage among school leavers in other to increase the amount of food produced and to help increase the amount in storage so we can have something to fall back on when there is food shortage.
Also, loan and incentives should be given to both small and large scale farmers by every government in each country.
Daniels Mankind

Alex (100) and others. We will certainly take up the issue of sell by dates with Justin King tonight.

Peter

  • 104.
  • At 02:43 PM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • Kaweesi Edward Silvestre wrote:

Food insecurity as a result of environmental destruction is a clear symbol of our greed our supid belief in today. By destroying the environment we have indeed devoured our future our very primal existance. Let us wait for the fate of dinausors for we are stupid.

  • 105.
  • At 02:44 PM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • krishsam wrote:

gentlemen,
the main root cause is the selfish adminstrators, & the religious leaders. for the selfishness of the above, millions of innocent people are
suffered. even now there are ways and means to solve the all.now we are spending billions of money,valuable time, men power for war which is erupted for no reason. innocent people & valuable properties are totally destroyed in the name of war.individual
peace is the world peace. that could be
achieved step by step.
krishsam, India

How do we feed the world? The FAO report ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow’ (2007) pointed out that livestock detract from the food supply rather than increase it. In fact, the report points out; livestock consume 77 million tonnes of protein contained in food stuff that could be potentially used for human nutrition – whereas livestock only provides 58 million tonnes of protein. Meat production is an inefficient way of feeding the world, it uses up more land than agriculture would require, contributes to soil erosion and to the waste and pollution of water.
Both Friends of the Earth and Compassion in World Farming are now acknowledging that we should consume less meat, not only in the interests of personal health but because of sustainability issues. Apparently even the government recognise that eating less meat is a key component of reducing negative effects on climate change (see https://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2007/05/30/eavegan30.xml%29.
The failure of these organisations to point out that the only sustainable way forward is to stop producing and farming animals altogether can only be explained by a fear of alienating their own supporters and the general public who do not wish to consider switching to a meat and dairy free diet. The sooner people wake up and face the facts, the sooner we can start trying to sort this world out, before it is too late.

www.vegatopia.org

  • 107.
  • At 03:19 PM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • William Yates wrote:

I recently wrote to TESCO because they had Runner Beans on Sale from ZIMBABWE of all places. When I complained I was informed that Tesco had a right to expect a return on their investment in Zimbabwe. (I wish I had kept the letter). Do me a favour. 1000's of people in Zimbabwe are starving and Tesco want a return on their investment. Says it all really doesn't it.

  • 108.
  • At 03:58 PM on 16 Apr 2008,
  • Michael Ng wrote:

Promoting vegetarianism

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