Almost two billion people depending on food imports
The study looked into the use of food imports to overcome local limits to growth of food production.
It was carried out by Finland’s Aalto University and was published in the Earth’s Future journal.
Imports increase when local agriculture cannot meet demand and, according to the study, food imports increased up to 75% in some regions as food production declined.
The research used statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and considered increases in production efficiency resulting from technological development.
“We found that food imports are nearly universally used to overcome local limits to growth, but are implemented to varying extent and with varying success. In the large majority, as a region approaches its carrying capacity, net import of food relative to food demand of the population tends to increase,” researchers said.
Keeping food demand under control
They added that whether a dependency is desirable or not, the priority should be to “keep the demand of food under control”.
Lead researcher Miina Porkka told ScienceDaily.com: “Although this has been a topic of global discussion for a long time, previous research has not been able to demonstrate a clear connection between resource scarcity and food imports.
“We performed a global analysis focusing on regions where water availability restricts production, and examined them from 1961 until 2009, evaluating the extent to which the growing population pressure was met by increasing food imports,” she added.