[Paleopsych] BBC: Hungry world 'must eat less meat'
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Sat Aug 21 20:27:21 UTC 2004
Hungry world 'must eat less meat'
By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent
Highland cattle BBC
Livestock needs a lot of water
World water supplies will not be enough for our descendants to enjoy
the sort of diet the West eats now, experts say.
The World Water Week in Stockholm will be told the growth in demand
for meat and dairy products is unsustainable.
Animals need much more water than grain to produce the same amount of
food, and ending malnutrition and feeding even more mouths will take
still more water.
Scientists say the world will have to change its consumption patterns
to have any realistic hope of feeding itself.
Losing the race
The World Water Week conference is held annually in the Swedish
capital, and is organised by the Stockholm International Water
Institute, Siwi. This year's runs from 15 to 21 August.
It's going to be almost impossible to feed future generations the kind
of diet we have now in western Europe and North America
Anders Berntell, Stockholm International Water Institute
Siwi says: "With about 840 million people undernourished or lacking a
secure food supply today, and another two billion or more people... by
2025, feeding the world's growing population - and finding the water
to grow the food - continues to be a basic and sizeable challenge."
A paper to be delivered during the conference, entitled Water: More
Nutrition Per Drop, says: "For several decades, the increase in food
production has outpaced population growth. Now much of the world is
simply running out of water for more production... "
The World Health Organisation calls malnutrition "the silent
emergency", and says it is a factor in at least half the 10.4 million
child deaths which occur every year.
Grain in Ethiopian market A Kirby
Grain goes far to feed the world
Anders Berntell, Siwi's executive director, told BBC News Online: "The
basic problem is that food is the main global consumer of water, with
irrigation taking 70% or more of all the water we use, apart from huge
volumes of rainwater.
"The bottom line is that we've got to do something to reduce the
amount of water we devote to growing food today.
Upturn in demand
"Animals fed on grain, and also those which rely on grazing, need far
more water than grain crops.
WATER AND FOOD
A kilogram of grain-fed beef needs at least 15 cubic metres of water
A kilo of lamb from a sheep fed on grass needs 10 cubic metres
A kilo of cereals needs from 0.4 to 3 cubic metres
"But in the developed world, and in parts of some developing
countries, consumers are demanding more meat.
"Of course people should have healthier diets and a higher intake of
nutrients: we don't want to stop that.
Slow to dawn
"But it's going to be almost impossible to feed future generations the
kind of diet we have now in western Europe and North America.
Hamburger in bun BBC
Meat is a treat for the rich
"Most of us don't appreciate, either politically or personally, the
challenge of finding enough water to grow enough food, though in some
countries it's a problem of everyday living.
"I think the world's future water supply is a problem that's an entire
order of magnitude greater than we've begun to realise."
Mr Berntell said the rich would be able to buy their way out of
trouble by importing "virtual water" - the water needed to grow the
food they bought from abroad.
He said: "The transport of virtual water is huge. Australians were
astonished to find that although their country is short of water,
they're net exporters of water in the form of meat."
Better diet 'would save millions'
17 Jun 04 | Health
World population growth 'falling'
23 Mar 04 | Americas
Thirsty Africa faces food crisis
02 Nov 03 | Science/Nature
UN warns of future water crisis
05 Mar 03 | Science/Nature
RELATED BBC LINKS:
The Water Debate
World Water Crisis
RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
Stockholm International Water Institute
United Nations Population Fund
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