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The Environmental Food Crisis


Figure 6: Changes in historic and projected composition of human diet and the nutritional value. (Source: FAO, 2008; FAOSTAT, 2009).

The global production of cereals (including wheat, rice and maize) plays a crucial role in the world food supply, accounting for about 50% of the calorie intake of humans (Figure 6) (FAO, 2003). Any changes in the production of, or in the use of cereals for non-human consumption will have an immediate effect on the calorie intake of a large fraction of the world’s population. 

As nearly half of the world’s cereal production is used to produce animal feed, the dietary proportion of meat has a major influence on global food demand (Keyzer et al., 2005). With meat consumption projected to increase from 37.4 kg/person/year in 2000 to over 52 kg/person/year by 2050 (FAO, 2006), cereal requirements for more intensive meat production may increase substantially to more than 50% of total cereal production (Keyzer et al., 2005).