Changes in Diet, Rising Population May Strain China’s Water Supply

From Science News:

China may be forced to increase its food imports as the country’s growing population continues to demand more water-intensive foods.

Junguo Liu, an environmental scientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Dübendorf, Switzerland, says China’s water tables can’t sustain its rate of development — eight percent, the fastest in the world. China has 21 percent of the world’s population, but only eight percent of its water resources.

From Science News:

“Chinese consumption of staples such as corn, rice, and wheat has changed little in recent years, even dropping somewhat in the last decade, data suggest. However, consumption of more water-intensive fruits and vegetables, now the largest part of the average Chinese diet, has more than quadrupled since the early 1960s. A more significant strain on water resources, says Liu, is the dramatic rise in meat consumption. Since 1980, the Chinese yen for meat has nearly quadrupled, he notes.”

“Now, imports account for only 3 percent of the cereals and meat consumed in China, says Liu. In the coming decades, growing demand for these products—and the county’s limited supply of water—may boost that figure to around 8 percent.”

Researchers do note that food-related water consumption in the United States is about four times that in China.

February 10, 2008 11:48 PM
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Categories: Environment, News Focus