why is importing food bad for the environment

Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Similarly to tropical deforestation, biodiversity threats are often higher in mid latitudes, developing countries, where specific food commodities are produced for export to higher latitudes, more developed countries that do not have a suitable climate to make these commodities (e.g. 11 035012, https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/11/3/035012. This document is subject to copyright. However, conclusions are not clear regarding the efficiency of this process, i.e. global or regional). impacts soils, aquifers and rivers. When comparing land intensity of crops, it is important to note that boosted yields have often come at the cost of more nutrient and chemical surplus (Drinkwater and Snapp 2007). Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no resources, which alter the water, carbon and nitrogen cycles, and threaten the fertility, health and biodiversity of landscapes. They emphasize the fact that flows and savings of virtual water and land need to be analyzed together because they are intrinsically related. China intercepts over 60 percent of the global supply of exported, Betsy Von Holle is a director of the National Science Foundation’s, Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Temperate trees will soon lose their leaves earlier in the season, Animals with higher genetic variation are much more resilient, East Asia may be permanently locked into hotter and drier climate, Understanding Chinese medicine could protect endangered animals, Less vegetation is appearing in countries that need it most, Grasslands play a major role in mitigating climate change. Revisions: 2 For this reason, indicators should account for these differences when comparing countries' productivity. Analyzing the differential effect of trade would need another counter-factual to imports than domestic production, e.g. Res. Importantly, the water efficiency of trade as measured by savings is an informative, but not holistic measure of trade's impacts on water resources. In the future, there is a clear need for more comprehensive approaches accounting for the multiple environmental effects of agriculture, and for the creation of consistent global indicators reflecting these effects. mechanization, water-saving irrigation, fertilizers), trade of water-intensive food products, or virtual water trade, is a way to improve global and regional water-use efficiency by virtually transferring water resources from more to less water-productive areas. By moving food from its production to consumption places, trade facilitates growth but also distances consumers from the potentially damaging environmental impacts of agriculture (D'Odorico et al 2010). Agriculture contributed 70% of global nitrous oxide emissions in 2010, mainly from synthetic fertilizers, animal waste dropped on soils (either as animal manure or by animals during grazing) and agricultural waste burning (IEA report http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/docs/IEA_PARTIII.pdf p 4). Environmental Research Letters, For example, much irrigation is based on non-renewable sources (Wada et al 2012), including that in productive fields of the Western and Central USA. You do not need to reset your password if you login via Athens or an Institutional login. Betsy Von Holle is a director of the National Science Foundation’s Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems program, which funded the study. Emissions of greenhouse gases from agricultural activities, including nitrous oxide, are treated in the next section. Our review of quantitative estimates of the environmental impacts of food trade does not further address potential ethical and fairness questions (developed e.g in (Hornborg 1998)), but we highlight the importance of the perspective taken when estimating trade environmental impacts (e.g. Export citation and abstract Other authors also point out trade links that contribute to groundwater extraction, by analyzing food exports produced with water resources from threatened US aquifers (Marston et al 2015). As a highly significant issue for global, sustainable water and food security, the consumptive use of water resources for agriculture has been the focus of a vast array of research. The content is provided for information purposes only. Aggregation and disaggregation across temporal, spatial and sectoral scales needs to be carried out in a consistent manner and accounting for scale-specific constraints. whether meat trade increases or decreases global emissions), but highlights some links where additional emissions occur with trade, due to different emission intensities of trade partners. planet The resource saving potential of trade is high, especially for water, even though careful attention to each specific trade relationship and local socio–economic context is required to avoid misinterpretations. you each day, © 2020 Earth.com Neither your address nor the recipient's address will be used for any other purpose. Trees falling as fragile forests become cropland is a visual shorthand for the environmental costs exporting countries pay to meet lucrative global demands for food. However, tropical agriculture can be done in more sustainable ways. China intercepts over 60 percent of the global supply of exported soybeans at a price that cannot be matched by China’s domestic farmers. on water consumption) is limited by the different spatio-temporal scales and product aggregations used. With the world population projected to reach 9 billion in this century, the challenge to feed the planet with already pressured natural resources is particularly difficult. Net change in CO2 emissions for trade in the wearing apparel (left) and bulk agriculture (right) sectors, i.e. This success was enabled by governance and technical monitoring capacity put in place to control deforestation in the mid 2000s. The authors thank three anonymous reviewers for their valuable inputs on an earlier version of this manuscript. The effect of processed agriculture trade (including fruits, meats and dairy products) on global emissions is not provided, but the authors note that this type of trade is more likely to rely on carbon intensive air transport than that of raw crops, thus potentially increasing global emissions further. Most savings are induced by sizable and water-efficient trade of wheat and corn, while relatively more water-efficient but smaller trade of meat products contributed about a third of savings; similar contributions are found for year 2000 by Chapagain et al (2006). Third, as food production and consumption become increasingly global, accounting for trade linkages is key to track environmental and sustainability objectives in agricultural policy. Crop decisions driven by global markets also can place increased demands on water supplies. Lenzen et al (2012) have shown that trade contributes to biodiversity threats, especially in developing nations. Figure 3. C Dalin gratefully acknowledges the funding support of the Belmont Forum (SAHEWS project, NERC grant number NE/L008785/1) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCEP).

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