Cornucopia’s Take: Countries around the world are importing food and animal feed at lower and lower costs, forcing domestic farmers to grow other crops in order to make ends meet. This study looks at the environmental impacts of what domestic farmers grow when their markets bottom out. Cornucopia has reported on fraudulent organic grain imports, and we have heard accounts of domestic organic grain producers returning to conventional agriculture due to imports forcing prices down for their organic crops.
Imported food damages domestic environment
Trees falling as fragile forests become cropland is a visual shorthand for the environmental costs exporting countries pay to meet lucrative global demands for food. Yet a new study reveals a counterintuitive truth: Importing food also damages homeland ecology.
In this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) and their colleagues show that the decisions domestic farmers must make as imported food changes the crop market can damage the environment.
“What is obvious is not always the whole truth,” said Jianguo “Jack” Liu director of MSU’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability and senior author of the paper. “Unless a world is examined in a systemic, holistic way, environmental costs will be overlooked.” Read Full Article »