Publication Abstracts

Puma et al. 2015

Puma, M., S. Bose, S.Y. Chon, and B. Cook, 2015: Assessing the evolving fragility of the global food system. Environ. Res. Lett., 10, no. 2, 024007, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/10/2/024007.

The world food crisis in 2008 highlighted the susceptibility of the global food system to price shocks. Here we use annual staple food production and trade data from 1992-2009 to analyse the changing properties of the global food system. Over the 18-year study period, we show that the global food system is relatively homogeneous (85% of countries have low or marginal food self-sufficiency) and increases in complexity, with the number of global wheat and rice trade connections doubling and trade flows increasing by 42% and 90%, respectively. The increased connectivity and flows within these global trade networks suggest that the global food system is vulnerable to systemic disruptions, especially considering the tendency for exporting countries to switch to non-exporting states during times of food scarcity in the global markets. To test this hypothesis, we superimpose continental-scale disruptions on the wheat and rice trade networks. We find greater absolute reductions in global wheat and rice exports along with larger losses in network connectivity as the networks evolve due to disruptions in European wheat and Asian rice production. Importantly, our findings indicate that least developed countries suffer greater import losses in more connected networks through their increased dependence on imports for staple foods (due to these large-scale disturbances): mean (median) wheat losses as percentages of staple food supply are 8.9% (3.8%) for 1992-1996, increasing to 11% (5.7%) for 2005-2009. Over the same intervals, rice losses increase from 8.2% (2.2%) to 14% (5.2%). Our work indicates that policy efforts should focus on balancing the efficiency of international trade (and its associated specialisation) with increased resilience of domestic production and global demand diversity.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Puma, M. and Bose, S. and Chon, S. Y. and Cook, B.},
  title={Assessing the evolving fragility of the global food system},
  journal={Environ. Res. Lett.},

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RIS Citation

ID  - pu08000i
AU  - Puma, M.
AU  - Bose, S.
AU  - Chon, S. Y.
AU  - Cook, B.
PY  - 2015
TI  - Assessing the evolving fragility of the global food system
JA  - Environ. Res. Lett.
VL  - 10
IS  - 2
SP  - 024007
DO  - 10.1088/1748-9326/10/2/024007
ER  -

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