Sunday, November 30, 2008


Warning Bells on Food Supply

If you care about eating, the state of the world’s agricultural system should be of great concern. There are signs of trouble in the US breadbasket zone, and this description of the unfolding drama (and soon-to-be tragedy) in the Dakotas is a hair-raising read. We can see where this is leading, of course: Not only will the US cease to feed many people in food-importing countries, food shortages could well develop within the US itself. It is said that the diesel tractor feeds the world, but the tractor is supplemented by an extensive panoply of other equipment and infrastructure that is ultimately dependent on a steady supply of fossil fuels.

The linked article merely touches on the credit crisis that is pummeling American farmers, but this is another major factor dragging industrialized agriculture down. And it’s not only in the US. Farmers in Brazil, another big food exporter, are also starved for loans.

And finally, the energy industry itself — which underpins industrialized agriculture and everything else — is also taking a beating owing to the lack of cash. And now we see that America’s biggest natural gas producer and Brazil’s Petrobras are suffering cash-flow problems.

With a little netsurfing, anyone can find more such information, but you get the idea. A highly optimized system dependent on long and increasingly undependable supply lines is breaking down.

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