Chapter 10 – Food Issues Key Terms from: p. 147, 154, 157 and 159, and answer Q. # 5 and 9

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Chapter 10 – Food Issues

Key Terms from: p.147, 154, 157 and 159, and answer Q. # 5 and 9

Key Terms (p. 147)

Famine: the temporary failure of food production that leads to starvation and disease

Starvation: an extreme form of hunger in which people are suffering from lack of energy and minerals

Malnutrition: damage to health caused by a diet that either has too much or too little of one or more essential nutrients over a prolonged period of time.

Under-nutrition: a diet that lacks essential nutrients over prolonged periods that lead to a variety of health issues and diseases

Key Terms (p. 154)

Green Revolution: The development of high-yielding crops of wheat and rice in developed countries that led to increased yields of crops for developing countries overall in response to the expectation of food shortages due to a rising global population. It began in Mexico in 1945 and was used in the 1960’s and 70’s in developing countries with both positive and negative ecological and economic impacts.

High-yield Varieties (of crops): crops of wheat and rice that could be more productive per harvest for overall outcome (yield) of the crop due to: being smaller in size (more food, less stems), responding more positively to the use of fertilizer and irrigation, growing faster so there can be more than 1 harvest per year

Key Terms (p. 157)

Loss of Genetic Diversity: When a few variety crops during the Green Revolution were highly developed, replacing hundreds of other native varieties that had previously been grown.

Key Terms (p. 159)

Genetically Modified Organism: organisms whose genetic structure has been changed to give them desirable characteristics (i.e. tomatoes with fish DNA that enables them to grow in cooler climates).

Question #5a: Make a point-form summary of the events and importance of the Green Revolution.

  • It started with the intent to increase the productivity of wheat in Mexico by using selective plant breeding methods used in the developed world for more than a century

  • The focus was to create high-yield wheat varieties that grew faster and grew more wheat

  • The success of the Mexican program where it started led to a similar program for rice in the Philippines and India

  • The Green Revolution was very successful in producing high-yield crops in a time of population explosion. Without it, there could have been hunger related deaths on a Malthusian scale.

Question #5b: Why have some of the benefits of the Green Revolution been lost in recent years?

Rice and wheat yields have declined significantly in recent years because the high-yield varieties are very demanding of water and soil nutrients. Losses in soil fertility have only partly been made up by chemical fertilizers. As well, there has been a dramatic decline in genetic diversity due to the preference of the high-yield varieties, making the few that are now used more vulnerable to disease and insect pests. Time has shown that the Green Revolution, using methods developed in rich countries with greater access to fertile soil and fresh water, is not sustainable in developing countries where the climate is often more arid, where the soil is not as fertile, where there is not the same abundance or access to fresh water for irrigation and where farmers have to pay more for custom seeds, etc.

In a nutshell, the Green Revolution helped in the short term to offset potential food shortages during the Baby Boom of the 1950’s and 60’s but was not sustainable ecologically or economically in the developed world in the long run. It also led to a loss of biologic diversity and a bigger gap between the rich and poor.

Question #9: When a natural disaster strikes a developing country, developed countries often send food aid. This food aid, however, can disrupt the local economy. The price of locally grown food drops because free food is available, and farmers lose their income as a result. How should donor countries like Canada deal with such situations?

If there is a food surplus in the developing country, it would make more sense for developed countries to offer their support by buying the food from that country so that is can be distributed equally. This way those in need still receive immediate aid, and the local economy benefits as well. The down side is that donor farmers from the developed countries may lose out as their governments are not buying from them. Buying food from elsewhere to help a foreign nation is often politically and publically unpopular.

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