The following facts come from the first chapter of Lester Brown’s Plan B 4.0, which was published in 2009. The book is available in print or as a downloadable PDF from The Earth Policy Institute’s website. These facts all relate to food prices, which continue to rise.
- From mid-2006 to mid-2008, world prices of wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans roughly tripled.
- In the mid-1990s, the number of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition (according to the United Nations) had fallen to 825 million. It reached 915 million at the end of 2008 and more than 1 billion in 2009.
- Brown projects that the increasing population, planned diversion of grain to produce fuel for cars, spreading shortages of irrigation water, and other trends will combine to push the number of hungry people to 1.2 billion or more by 2015.
- The average American and Canadian are responsible for the consumption of 800 kilograms of grain (~1750 pounds) per year, tops in the world. Most of this is used to raise beef, pork, poultry, milk, and eggs.
- Near the bottom of this ranking is India, where people the average person has less than 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of grain annually, most of which is consumed directly, very little goes for animal protein.
Image source: Metropolitan Museum of Art