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Making local sense of food, urban growth, population and energy

China’s coming grain dependence

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Xinjiang street food vendor. Photo: China Daily/Lin Dihuan

How much grain will China import? How will it compare with their soybean imports? No one knows for sure, the Earth Policy Institute’s Lester Brown has said. “But if China were to import only 20 percent of its grain, it would need 80 million tons, an amount only slightly less than the 90 million tons of grain the United States exports to all countries each year.” This would put heavy additional pressure on scarce exportable supplies of wheat and corn, said Brown.

For China, the handwriting is on the wall, the Earth Policy briefing has stated, in ‘Can the United States feed China’. It will almost certainly have to turn to the outside world for grain to avoid politically destabilizing food price rises. To import massive quantities of grain, China will necessarily draw heavily on the United States, far and away the world’s largest grain exporter. To be dependent on imported grain, much of it from the United States, will be China’s worst nightmare come true.

“For US consumers, China’s worst nightmare could become ours. If China enters the US grain market big time, as now seems inevitable, American consumers will find themselves competing with 1.4 billion Chinese consumers with fast-rising incomes for the US grain harvest, driving up food prices.”

Written by makanaka

March 23, 2011 at 23:33

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