Europe’s meat and dairy sectors are highly vulnerable to water scarcity issues in feedstock-supplying nations — such as Brazil, Argentina, and the US — according to new research from the NGO Water Footprint Network.
The EU-funded study noted that around 57% of Europe’s soybean imports (which the meat and dairy industries rely on) come from parts of the world that are highly vulnerable to water scarcity issues (which will be worsening notably in the coming decades).
These worsening water scarcity issues will likely push up prices of meat and dairy products within Europe in coming years (even with other issues such as population growth and economic malaise not factored in).
The study’s co-author, Ertug Ercin, commented: “The highest risk that the European meat and dairy sector will face due to climate change and weather extremes lies outside its borders.”
Climate Central provides more: “About two thirds of the global population already live in areas experiencing water scarcity at least one month a year, according to the United Nations. The problem is set to intensify with global warming, which is expected to affect rain patterns and cause more frequent droughts, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says.
“Water in soybean farming areas could become insufficient leading to lower production and higher prices, which would push up costs of meat and dairy products in Europe, Ercin said. Imports of other products like rice, sugar cane, cotton, almonds, pistachios and grapes could be similarly affected, according to the report.”
“The EU’s economy is dependent on the availability of water in other parts of the world for many crops,” commented Christopher Briggs, WFN executive director. “That makes it vulnerable to increasing water scarcity and drought.”
It should also be realized here that the reason that people in Europe are able to live the sorts of lives that they do (eating imported food; using a lot of imported feedstock, fuel, products, etc.) is simply because of trade imbalances that were set up when Europe was home to most of the world’s “superpowers.” This situation has been slowly ending over recent years, and this trend will continue over the coming decades — meaning that those in Europe will have to learn to get by with less and to rely more solely on local resources.
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