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More food for thought.

More food for thought

One particularly sobering repercussion of the 1988 U.S. drought, notes Lester Brown, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute, is that last year -- perhaps for the first time ever -- the United States produced less grain (196 million metric tons) than it consumed (206 million tons). Moreover, he points out in State of the World 1989, released last week, it appears this year's U.S. stores of carryover grain (those in bins right before the next harvest) will be the lowest since just after World War II. Another bad harvest in the next few years could trigger massive starvation in any of the more than 100 nations that buy U.S. grains -- unless, that is, grain is diverted from livestock to dinner tables. Brown says the third of all grain destined for livestock now "becomes the reserve we could use to feed the hungry."

Soil erosion and population growth worldwide contribute to the likelihood grain stores will not be refilled soon. Each year, Brown says, the world's farmers are asked to feed 86 million more people with 24 billion tons less topsoil. The topsoil lost in a year, he adds, is about equal to the amount present in Australia's wheat lands.
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Title Annotation:Worldwatch Institute forecasts possible grain shortage
Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 18, 1989
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