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Impact of using agricultural areas for non‐food crops

Graham Redman of The Andersons Centre, discusses the impact of using agricultural areas for non-food crops

This article was originally published in 'Food and Drink Technology'

Agricultural land was once used to grow oats to feed the horses that pulled the carriages and ploughs. The internal combustion engine then replaced the horse as a more efficient and more substantial way to harness power. Biofuels, arguably create a reversion of this trend. Bioplastics are representing a return to the land as a source of materials for all sorts of other uses. But there has been much debate over the ethics of using land to produce non‐food crops when food insecurity remains an issue in many countries.

The acceleration in demand for agricultural goods in the last decade has added considerable strain to the farming industry. The growth of non‐food uses has fuelled the demand, notably for grains but also sugar and other biomass. There is no real question that the industry will be able to supply those who can afford to pay but as demand rises, more upward pressure is placed on commodity prices. Commodities, by definition are traded globally, and so share one pricing matrix, meaning the same price is used in all parts of the world, regardless of ability to pay or purchasing power (the local value of a currency). This means that agricultural commodities may become unattainable to some and others will spend a greater share of their income. They will be the ones struggling to feed themselves...

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