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Who Will Feed China?: Wake-Up Call for a Small Planet (The Worldwatch Environmental Alert Series) Paperback – September 17, 1995

4.2 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Brown, president of the Worldwatch Institute and recipient of numerous environmental awards, predicts that China's current breakneck industrialization will lead to massive world grain shortages early in the next century. He states that political leaders everywhere need to recognize that "the world is now on a demographic and economic path that is environmentally unsustainable." Using Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan as the only examples of countries that were densely populated when they embarked on rapid industrialization, similar to China's present situation, Brown points out that these countries developed in such a way that they were compelled to import the majority of the grain their populations consumed. He cites many reasons for the dependence on foreign grain, including growing land scarcity, migration to the city from farms, overpopulation, water scarcity, and unstable prices on the world market. Brown argues persuasively that the major world challenge in the future is not military aggression but, rather, food scarcity. No other book develops this theme in as straightforward a fashion. Highly recommended.?Peggy Spitzer Christoff, Oak Park, Ill.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover

To feed its 1.2 billion people, China may soon have to import so much grain that this action could trigger unprecedented rises in world food prices. In Who Will Feed China: Wake-up Call for a Small Planet, Lester Brown shows that even as water becomes more scarce in a land where 80 percent of the grain crop is irrigated, as per-acre yield gains are erased by the loss of cropland to industrialization, and as food production stagnates, China still increases its population by the equivalent of a new Beijing each year. When Japan, a nation of just 125 million, began to import food, world grain markets rejoiced. But when China, a market ten times bigger, starts importing, there may not be enough grain in the world to meet that need - and food prices will rise steeply for everyone. Analysts foresaw that the recent four-year doubling of income for China's 1.2 billion consumers would increase food demand, especially for meat, eggs, and beer. But these analysts assumed that food production would rise to meet those demands.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Worldwatch Environmental Alert Series
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039331409X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393314090
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,239,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
According to United Nations' World Food Program(WFP) 2005 annual report, China has become a food donor country from a donation receiving country. China has increased its food donation over 200% alone in year 2005, and is helping other developing countries to improve their agriculcure production.

"It was not all bad news, however. Last year was

the year in which WFP concluded its assistance

to China, having provided 30 million people with

food aid for the past 26 years. We are now

looking to China, which has lifted some

300 million of its own people out of poverty,

to help provide the expertise that will enable

other countries achieve such stunning progress."

Quite a different outcome from the author's prediction 12 years ago considering that during this period China has probably increased its population by at least 100 million (more people to feed), lifted hundreds of millions more out of poverty (more per capita food consumption) and lost some of its best land to industrialiation.
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Format: Paperback
Lester Brown is an environmental analyst, and founder of the Worldwatch Institute, and the Earth Policy Institute. His grand plan was to observe global trends, and produce objective information. Brown’s many books and reports have provided rational advice for the world’s irrational policymakers. He has not sold his soul to corporate interests.

In 1994, Brown wrote an essay, Who Will Feed China? It triggered an explosive response. Chinese leaders angrily denounced him. But behind the scenes, they realized that their nation was vulnerable, because they had not perceived the big picture clearly. Brown expanded his essay into a book with the same title, published in 1995. It became a classic. Reading it 20 years later is eerie, because many of his warnings now sound like the daily news.

Before they industrialized, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan were already densely populated. Then, the growth of industry gobbled up a lot of cropland, which reduced food production, and forced all three to become dependent on imported grain. In 1994, Japan imported 72 percent of its grain, South Korea 66 percent, and Taiwan 76 percent.

Brown saw that China was on a similar trajectory. Cropland was limited, and it was rapidly being lost to sprawl, industry, and highways. They were likely to lose half of their cropland by 2030. They were also likely to add another 500 million people by 2030. As incomes rose, people were eager to enjoy a richer diet, including more meat and beer. This required even more cropland per person.

Freshwater for agriculture was also limited, and much of it was being diverted to growing cities and factories. About 300 cities were already short of water. China’s capitol, Beijing, was among 100 cities with severe water shortages.
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A Kid's Review on July 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
I read this book in the late 90's and didn't give much thought. Now with the USA being so much in debt to China this book is truly a "Wake Up Call."
If we the American people are unable to pay our debt to China and they need to foreclose, what do you think they will need the most..? It wont be an Army or land,it will be food! American food to feed their people. Happy reading and please wake up America!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
very technical and outdated, but it's worth the read.. still a big issue for our planet
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Format: Paperback
A disturbing analysis of the effect in the near future of China's population on world food requirements. Eminently readable. My only regret is that the writer did not even hint at possible solutions.
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