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Climate change and the current 'food crisis'

Gregory, P.J. ORCID: and Ingram, J.S.I. (2008) Climate change and the current 'food crisis'. CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources, 3 (099). ISSN 1749-8848

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1079/PAVSNNR20083099


Many reasons are being advanced for the current ‘food crisis’ including financial speculation,increased demand for grains, export bans on selected foodstuffs, inadequate grain stocks, higher oil prices, poor harvests and the use of crop lands for the production of biofuels. This paper reviews the present knowledge of recorded impacts of climate change and variability on crop production, in order to estimate its contribution to the current situation. Many studies demonstrate increased regional temperatures over the last 40 years (often through greater increases in minimum rather than maximum temperatures), but effects on crop yields are mixed. Distinguishing climate effects from changes in yield resulting from improved crop management and genotypes is difficult, but phenological changes affecting sowing, maturity and disease incidence are emerging. Anthropogenic factors appear to be a significant contributory factor to the observed decline in rainfall in southwestern and southeastern Australia, which reduced tradable wheat grain during 2007. Indirect effects of climate change through actions to mitigate or adapt to anticipated changes in climate are also evident. The amount of land diverted from crop production to biofuel production is small but has had a disproportionate effect on tradable grains from the USA. Adaptation of crop production practices and other components of the food system contributing to food security in response to variable and changing climates have occurred, but those households without adequate livelihoods are most in danger of becoming food insecure. Overall, we conclude that changing climate is a small contributor to the current food crisis but cannot be ignored.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Walker Institute
Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Crop Science
ID Code:32014
Uncontrolled Keywords:Climate variation, Crop production, Food security, Yield, Biofuels
Publisher:CAB International

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