A Chinese Omnivore’s Dilemma

Posted on August 2, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , |

A Chinese Omnivore’s Dilemma with Global Consequences…

With the U.S. climate bill stalled indefinitely, and an international agreement even further on the back burner, China’s rapidly growing demand for pork is an ominous trend for global climate change.
According to the USDA, Chinese consumption of pork has increased 127 percent from 1990 to 2010- accounting for 50% of total pork consumption worldwide. Factory farms in China are unable to cover this growing demand, so much of it is imported from the US and other countries. 
The problem is not just the increased import of U.S. finished pork product, but starts much earlier in the food chain.  Corn, a highly resource and carbon intensive crop, is the primary source of feed for livestock in the industrial process.  While the U.S. is the number one producer of corn worldwide, it is dedicating more corn to ethanol production and will not be able to meet growing Chinese demand. Chinese corn will likely come from countries such as Argentina and Brazil, where they will have to convert forests and grasslands into cornfields, eliminating their ability to sequester carbon.
Without a comprehensive international climate agreement that could cover issues including chemical manufacturing, land use, agriculture, and trade, this kind of unsustainable growth remains unchecked, leaving the environment to suffer the consequences. And that’s a real omnivore’s dilemma!
Check out this Grist article for more on the issue.

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