Monday, December 7, 2015

Three Solutions to the Global Food Crisis

From guest blogger, Suzie.

One solution to the global food crisis is to reduce the world’s population. If there are fewer people in the world to feed it follows that there does not need to be as much food produced.

This presents many moral problems. For example, who would the burden of lowering the population fall on? Wealthy countries, like the United States and Germany, already have declining birth rates and are nearing or are below replacement level. However, we cannot place the burden of lowering population on people in less-developed nations. These populations often have high infant mortality rates and limited knowledge of birth control methods. While education and medicine can play a large role in fixing these problems, it would be a long and slow fix. Additionally, many of the high birth rate countries are in rural areas that are very agricultural. Families here need additional hands to help out with their farms or businesses. Causing these families to limit the amount of children they have would cause economic hardship, which in turn would cause suffering.

Based on these problems, it does not seem like a reduction in population is a moral solution to the global food crisis.

A second solution to the global food crisis is to intensify agriculture. If we can produce more food globally, then we do not have to worry about the population.

There are many issues that come along with agricultural intensification. It requires increased inputs like fertilizers and pesticides, which increases environmental harm. Fertilizers and pesticides can also be toxic to humans and other animals. These two problems can reduce quality of life and increase suffering. Another problem that arises with agricultural intensification is the need for more land. Many agriculturists believe that we cannot sustain the current and future population with the amount of farmland we have right now. However, there is not much land left to expand to. Creating new farmland often requires deforestation, which destroys important environmental habitats. Additionally, who would be displaced in order to create new farmland? There are many logistical and moral problems that come along with agricultural intensification.

However, there are benefits to intensification as well. One solution seems to be genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. These can increase yield while decreasing land, pesticide, and fertilizer use. Although they are very controversial, GMOs have the potential to change the world by increasing the number of people that can be fed while using the same amount of land.

While there are some aspects of agricultural intensification that seem to cause suffering and are not feasible, GMOs seem like a possible, ethically responsible solution to the global food crisis. If no one is harmed in the creation or consumption of GMOs, they seem to be a perfect answer to the current food problem. 

A third solution to the global food crisis is not a new invention like GMOs, but a change in the way we consume food. If wealthier people consume less, there will be more food available for the hungry. This does not harm the wealthy and is only beneficial for the people who will be receiving more food.

This solution seems to be morally acceptable in every facet. Wealthy people changing their consumption patterns only risk losing some gustatory pleasure. Additionally, it helps other species as well as humans. If less meat is consumed so more corn and other grains can be used for food instead of as feed, factory-farmed meat will be economically impacted and could possibly be reduced.

The reduction of factory-farmed meat could also open the door for more local, organic farmers. This would help food be locally available everywhere instead of needing to be shipped around the world.

All in all, it seems that reducing consumption is a morally acceptable way to solve the global food crisis. It harms no one and only has positive potential moral outcomes.

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