Feeding the world
Krogh, Peter F. (Peter Frederic)
Allen, Richard V.
House, Karen Elliott
Examines the debate over the world’s dwindling food supply.
More than half of the world’s food comes directly from grain, and a significantly larger amount comes indirectly from grain through meat and dairy products. So when two years of severe draught caused the world’s grain reserves to drop dramatically in the late 1980s, policymakers began to worry. By 1989 the world supply of grain was down to just 54 days, meaning that one more bad harvest could have wiped out the reserve. At the same time, the amount of land available for farming was shrinking rapidly, and as the world’s population continued to expand, food consumption was beginning to exceed production. The question facing nations around the world was whether this was a temporary glitch in an otherwise stable system, or whether a new approach was needed in order to feed the world. In the United States, agricultural experts were divided into two contradictory camps over the cause of the crisis; while some claimed that the amount of arable land in the world was rapidly disappearing, others attributed the crisis to massive agricultural subsidies in developed nations, which in turn depressed prices worldwide and drove low-cost producers in third world countries out of the market. What is causing the global agricultural crisis, and how should the world feed itself? In this episode of Great Decisions, host Peter Krogh sits down to discuss these issues with Richard Allen, former National Security Advisor to President Reagan, journalist Karen Elliott House of the Wall Street Journal, and Madeleine Albright, Georgetown University professor and future Secretary of State. Also featuring interviews with Lester Brown, President of the Worldwatch Institute, and Ewen Wilson, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Economics.
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