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Trade and Environment Review 2013

Wake up before it is too Late - Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable now for Food Security in a Changing Climate

image of Trade and Environment Review 2013
The 2013 report warns that continuing rural poverty, persistent hunger around the world, growing populations, and mounting environmental concerns must be treated as a collective crisis. Urgent and far-reaching action is needed before climate change begins to cause major disruptions to agriculture, especially in developing countries. The report cites a number of trends that collectively suggest a mounting crisis, including increasing food prices, increased fertilizer use, and a decline in the agriculture growth rate. But most important of all are the persistent problems with hunger, malnutrition, and access to food. Almost 1 billion people currently suffer from hunger, and another 1 billion are malnourished, even though current global agricultural production already provides sufficient calories to feed a population of 12 to 14 billion.

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Foreword

Not long after the 2008-2009 food price crisis, high and volatile food prices are back in the international agenda creating renewed concerns for world food security. Once again, discussions are mostly focused on suggesting quick-fixes linked to some specific contributing factors, such as food price speculation or the increasing use of bio-energy Insufficient attention is being paid to the fact that the increasing energy intensity of agricultural production and the direct and indirect link between agricultural and fuel prices was among the underlying factors that triggered the 2008 crisis and now contributes again to the current round of food price escalation. Furthermore, the recent drought affecting the main US grain production zones, putting upward pressure on international grain prices, is an incident now increasingly frequent and widespread with global warming. As this Review highlights, agriculture is not only chiefly affected by global warming but also one of its driving forces. Quick fixes will not be able to effectively deal with the complex interplay between energy intensity, greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and food security needs. Rather, what is called for is a better understanding of the multi-functionality of agriculture, its pivotal importance for pro-poor rural development and the significant role it can play in dealing with resource scarcities and in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

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