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China should ditch some of its food self-sufficiency targets, says World Bank

An increase in animal feed imports may preserve land and water in China, but could have major implications for climate emissions and land use overseas

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Rising demand from China for maize imports is likely to place even more pressure on Brazil’s remaining forest ecosystems (Image by CIFOR)

China has been urged to ditch some of its long-standing food self-sufficiency objectives in an effort to preserve its food security and resources.

Rapid changes in diet in the country – particularly the shift to eating more animal products – has seen a rise in imports of feed crops, including soy and maize.

Controversially, a new report from the World Bank now suggests China should allow these imports to continue to rise. “Such realignment would help China preserve land and save water,” says the report.

The World Bank has predicted China’s self-sufficiency rate in soy will drop to 14% by 2030, while its imports of maize will rise from 2% in 2012 to 15% by 2030.

The organisation goes on to say China should also put a greater emphasis on “improving the environmental sustainability” of its livestock sector, which has been criticised for its contribution to pollution.

However, the report makes no mention of the impact any shift to a greater reliance on food imports will have on land-use in major commodity exporting countries like Brazil.

China is already the largest purchaser of both soy and other agricultural commodities from Brazil – having recently jumped ahead of the EU.  

Its demand is helping to drive intensive farming into previously undeveloped areas of the richly biodiverse Brailzian Cerrado, say observers.

“The Cerrado in Brazil is fast becoming a soybean monoculture largely to feed the Chinese market,” says Janet Larson, from the Earth Policy Institute. “Soybean farmers have been pushing cattle farmers further into the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, leading to the burning of forest with impacts on local biodiversity, regional climate regulation and global carbon emissions.”

Around 40% of the growth in agricultural production in Latin America over the next 35 years is expected to come from opening up new areas of pastureland and forest to farming.

What’s more, China’s new demand for maize imports is likely to place even more pressure on Brazil’s remaining forest ecosystems.

“It’s going to be a real struggle between expanding production area in Brazil and people who are trying to limit deforestation,” says Emelie Peine, a global agribusiness specialist at the University of Puget Sound, Washington. 

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匿名 | Anonymous

粮食主权和转基因作物

中国需要从南美洲进口大量的大豆来满足养猪的需求。但是相比种植给人吃的豆类作物,培育猪食的转基因大豆,包括已经被大豆负责协会圆桌会议所认可的可持续大豆,给南美洲的社会和环境会带来更大的影响。世界银行想必也已经意识这将会威胁到中国北方非转基因大豆的生产。

因此世界银行所提出的建议也可以帮助改善以出口为导向的美国农业方式。

Food sovereignty and genetically modified crops

The great majority of the soy which China imports from South America - to feed pigs, thereby causing very much more social and environmental harm in South America than if the soy was fed to the people who live in China,- is genetically modified, including that which is certified by the Round Table on Sustainable Soy. The World Bank is presumably aware that this is jeopardising soy production in norther China - which is not genetically modified.

The recommendations of the World Bank (which is based in the USA) will also help the USA's export-oriented farming lobby.

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匿名 | Anonymous

中国"过河拆桥"的能源政策方针

为了满足国内日渐增长的需求,中国持续增加海外农产品的进口。多年以来,由于无心之失,中国严重破坏了其再生能源寄出——空气、水、土地/土壤、植被和野生动物,致谢都是农业生产力的支柱。对于这些以经济发展为由的破坏,中国政府既并没有改变其发展方式,也没有进行修复。他们现在的解决方式就是依赖别国的农业生产和可再生能源。中国还有机会修复其被破坏的可再生能源。而中国应要放弃那"过河拆桥"的能源政策方针。

沃尔特`巴翰博士
www.southchinaenvir.com

Fouling one's nest and moving on

China increasingly imports agricultural crops worldwide to satisfy growing demands at home. Yet for years, China, through careless behavior, has severely damaged its own renewable-resource base -- air, water, land/soil, vegetation, and wildlife -- the underpinings of agricultural productivity. This was done in the name of "economic development." China has done little to change its ways nor make repairs. Their solution now is to lean on the agricultural productivity and renewable resources of other countries. Chna's option to repair its damaged renewable resources still exists. "Fouling one's nest and moving on" is a practice that China should abandon.

Walter Parham, Ph.D.
www.southchinaenvir.com