‘Chinese, Indians eating more meat, driving global grain shortage’

February 19th, 2008 - 10:40 am ICT by admin  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, Feb 19 (IANS) The leader of Britain’s largest opposition party has told British farmers that the current global shortage of grains is partly being caused by Chinese and Indians eating more meat than before. David Cameron of the Conservative Party told farmers that Britain could feel the impact of a global “food crunch” because of changes in people’s diets, climate change and the search for bio fuels.

People in China and India were eating more meat, which meant farmers were switching from producing grains to rearing livestock in order to meet surging demand, Cameron told the National Farmers’ Union’s centenary conference in London.

At the same time, he said, growing demand for bio fuels was adding pressure on global grain stocks because they required arable land for production, he said.

“We face the potential prospect that the abundance of food that we all take for granted will come to a crashing end,” he said.

Cameron said Britain was 60 percent self-sufficient in food today, compared to 72 percent in 1996.

“Yet just as we are relying, indeed we are depending more and more on foreign farmers to fill our shopping bags, cupboards and fridges, so the days of abundant food from around the world may well be coming to an end,” Cameron said.

He said per capita consumption of meat in China has risen from 20 kg per year in 1985 to more than 50 kg today. In developing countries the demand for meat had doubled since 1980.

“Unsurprisingly, farmers are following suit, making the switch from grain to livestock to meet this shift in demand. And this is causing a crunch in global grain stocks,” he said.

Cameron also said climate change was causing a drop in crop yields.

“So these three factors - diet change, climate change, crop change - are contributing right now to global food crunch,” he said.

Cameron also called for other European countries to match Britain in ending production subsidies in the agricultural sector.

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