Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 337–347 | Cite as

How resilient is the United States’ food system to pandemics?

  • Andrew G. Huff
  • Walter E. Beyeler
  • Nicholas S. Kelley
  • Joseph A. McNitt
Article

Abstract

Rarely have studies focused on the second- and third-order effects of pandemics. Limiting the disruption of critical infrastructures during a pandemic is important for the survival and health of society (i.e., electricity, water, and food) as most medical and public health responses to a pandemic depend on these infrastructures. The studies that have looked at this issue have highlighted alarming gaps in preparedness. This study used a system dynamics model to demonstrate the likely effects of a pandemic on the USA’s food system. The model reveals that a severe pandemic with greater than a 25 % reduction in labor availability can create significant and widespread food shortages. The Ebola epidemic that began in 2014 has caused severe food shortages in West Africa, which are similar to the effects that this model predicts in the USA. The likely effects of the reduction in the amount of available food are difficult to specifically predict; however, it is likely to have severe negative consequences on society. The resilience of the food system must be improved against this hazard and others.

Keywords

Food systems Pandemics Resilience Supply chains Absenteeism Food security System dynamics 

Supplementary material

13412_2015_275_MOESM1_ESM.mdl (72 kb)
ESM 1(MDL 71 kb)
13412_2015_275_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (638 kb)
ESM 2(PDF 638 kb)

References

  1. Adalja AA, Wollner SB, InglesbyTV PG (2012) The globalization of US medical countermeasure production and its implications for national security. Biosecur Bioterror 10:255–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alirol E, Getaz L, Stoll B, Chappuis F, Loutan L (2011) Urbanisation and infectious diseases in a globalised world. Lancet Infect Dis 11:131–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck M, Bruins A, Fox T, Gayl F, Giordano D, Holmes D, Morgan DA (2006) Agribusiness industry, 2006. Industrial College of the Armed Forces Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  4. Brown LR (2009) Could food shortages bring down civilization? Sci Am 300:50–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buldyrev SV, Parshani R, Paul G, Stanley HE, Havlin S (2010) Catastrophic cascade of failures in interdependent networks. Nature 464:1025–1028CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burger K, Warner J, Derix E (2010) Governance of the world food system and crisis prevention. http://www.stuurgroepta.nl/rapporten/Foodshock-web.pdf. Accessed 1 July 2014
  7. Calin (2012) Average home sizes, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, twice as much as in New York. http://www.propertyshark.com/Real-Estate-Reports/2012/01/04/average-home-sizes-in-washington-d-c-atlanta-twice-as-much-as-in-new-york/#comments. Accessed 1 July 2014
  8. U.S. Census (2014) Characteristics of new housing. https://www.census.gov/construction/chars/highlights.html. Accessed 1 Oct 2014
  9. Department of Homeland Security (2006) Response and recovery guide for critical infrastructure and key resources. CI/KR Guide, Department of Homeland Security (DHS). http://www.flu.gov/planning-preparedness/business/cikrpandemicinfluenzaguide.pdf. Accessed 1 July 2014
  10. Dobson I, Carreras BA, Lynch VE, Newman DE (2007) Complex systems analysis of series of blackouts: cascading failure, critical points, and self-organization. Chaos 17:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (2007) Interagency statement on pandemic planning. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://www.fdic.gov/news/news/financial/2008/fil08006a.pdf. Accessed 1 July 2014
  12. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2010) Global hunger declining, but still unacceptably high. Economic and Social Development Department, Policy Brief, September. http://www.fao.org/docrep/012/al390e/al390e00.pdf. Accessed 1 July 2014
  13. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2014) West Africa: Ebola outbreak puts harvests at risk, sends food prices shooting up. http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/242177/icode/. Accessed 1 July 2014
  14. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2015) Special report: FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment—Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4311e.pdf. Accessed 1 July 2014
  15. Harvell CD, Mitchell CE, Ward JR, Altizer S, Dobson AP, Ostfeld RS, Samuel MD (2002) Climate warming and disease risks for terrestrial and marine biota. Science 296:2158–2162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (2007) Guidance on preparing workplaces for an influenza pandemic. Federal Publications, 617. https://www.osha.gov/Publications/influenza_pandemic.html. Accessed 1 July 2014
  17. Hessel L (2009) Pandemic influenza vaccines: meeting the supply, distribution and deployment challenges. Influenza 3:165–170Google Scholar
  18. Hickson A, Larson, PD, Phillips A, Khan S, Cohen S, Wirth B, Wolters D, Wright S, Kososki D (2008) Manitoba nutrition supply in event of a pandemic: analysis, vulnerabilities and risk management plans. https://umanitoba.ca/faculties/management/ti/media/docs/PandemicReport_Final_printweb%281%29.pdf. Accessed 1 July 2014
  19. Hines P, Balasubramaniam K, Sanchez EC (2009) Cascading failures in power grids. IEEE Potentials 28:24–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Johnson NP, Mueller J (2002) Updating the accounts: global mortality of the 1918–1920 “Spanish” influenza pandemic. Bull Hist Med 76:105–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kelley NS, Osterholm MT (2008) Pandemic influenza, electricity, and the coal supply chain. http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/sites/default/files/public/downloads/cidrap_coal_report.pdf. Accessed 1 July 2014
  22. Kohn S, Eaton JL, Feroz S, Bainbridge AA, Hoolachan J, Barnett DJ (2012) Personal disaster preparedness: an integrative review of the literature. Disaster Med Public Health Prep 6:217–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kumar S, Chandra C (2010) Supply chain disruption by avian flu pandemic for U.S. companies: a case study. Transp J 49:61–73Google Scholar
  24. Lederman R, Kurnia S, Lederman J (2009) Designing supply chain systems to cope with catastrophes. PACIS 2009 Proceedings 1–12Google Scholar
  25. Lin S, Fletcher BA, Luo M, Chinery R, Hwang SA (2011) Health impact in New York City during the Northeastern blackout of 2003. Public Health Rep 126:384Google Scholar
  26. Littman RJ, Littman ML (1973) Galen and the Antonine plague. Am J Philol 243–255Google Scholar
  27. Luke TC, Rodrigue JP (2008) Protecting public health and global freight transportation systems during an influenza pandemic. Am J Disaster 3:99–107Google Scholar
  28. McDonald B (2013) Growing a global food system: agriculture, environment and power in America, 1945–1995. http://www.ecotippingpoints.org/resources/presentation-food-resilience/presentations-food-resilience.pdf. Accessed 1 July 2014
  29. McKinnon A (2006) Life without trucks: the impact of a temporary disruption of road freight transport on a national economy. J Bus Logist 27:227–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Meuwissen M, Burger K, Lansink AO (2010) Resilience of food companies to calamities—perceptions in the Netherlands. http://commodityplatform.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/resilience-web.pdf. Accessed 1 July 2014
  31. Murray CJ, Lopez AD (1997) Global mortality, disability, and the contribution of risk factors: global burden of disease study. Lancet 349:1436–1442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. National Intelligence Council (US) (Ed.) (2013) Global trends 2030: alternative worlds. Central Intelligence Agency. http://www.scribd.com/doc/115962650/Global-Trends-2030-Alternative-Worlds. Accessed 1 July 2014
  33. Nikou SH, Selamat H (2013) Risk management capability within Malaysian food supply chains. Int J of Agr and Econ Dev http://www.gsmi-ijgb.com/Documents/IJAED%20V1%20N1%20P02%20Seyed%20hossein%20Nikou%20-Food%20Supply.pdf. Accessed 1 July 2014
  34. Osterholm MT (2005) Preparing for the next pandemic. N Engl J Med 352:1839–1842CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Osterholm MT, Kelley NS (2009) Energy and the public’s health: making the connection. Public Health Rep 124:20Google Scholar
  36. Patz JA, Daszak P, Tabor GM, Aguirre AA, Pearl M, Epstein J, Working Group on Land Use Change Disease Emergence (2004) Unhealthy landscapes: policy recommendations on land use change and infectious disease emergence. Environ Health Perspect 112:1092CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Patz JA, Campbell-Lendrum D, Holloway T, Foley JA (2005) Impact of regional climate change on human health. Nature 438:310–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Payan CSD (2013) Cases of improvement to public health systems using mathematical modeling [PDF document]. https://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/handle/1853/50326/DAVILAPAYAN-DISSERTATION-2013.pdf?sequence=1. Accessed 1 July 2014
  39. Peck H (2006) Resilience in the food chain: a study of business continuity management in the food and drink industry. Final Report to the Dep. for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Dep. of Defence Management & Security Analysis, Cranfield University, Shrivenham. http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Document.aspx?Document=FT0352_4705_FRP.doc. Accessed 1 July 2014
  40. Pimentel D, Pimentel MH (Eds.) (2007) Food, energy, and society. CRC pressGoogle Scholar
  41. Pimentel D, Whitecraft M, Scott ZR, Zhao L, Satkiewicz P, Scott TJ, Moe TL (2010) Will limited land, water, and energy control human population numbers in the future? Hum Ecol 38:599–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Roth AV, Tsay AA, Pullman ME, Gray JV (2008) Unraveling the food supply chain: strategic insights from China and the 2007 recalls. J Supply Chain Manag 44:22–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sclar ED, Garau P, Carolini G (2005) The 21st century health challenge of slums and cities. Lancet 365:901–903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Scott S, Duncan CJ (2001) Biology of plagues: evidence from historical populations. Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  45. Sennebogen E (2011) What is the average American grocery bill? http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/budgeting/average-american-grocery-bill.htm. Accessed 1 July 2014
  46. Staples J (2006) Preparing for a Pandemic. Harvard Business Review. http://hbr.org/2006/05/preparing-for-a-pandemic/ar/17. Accessed 1 July 2014
  47. Suk JE, Semenza JC (2011) Future infectious disease threats to Europe. Am J Public Health 101:2068–2079CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Viboud C, Miller M, Olson DR, Osterholm M, Simonsen L (2010) Preliminary estimates of mortality and years of life lost associated with the 2009 A/H1N1 pandemic in the US and comparison with past influenza seasons. PLoS Currents. doi:10.1371/currents.RRN1153 Google Scholar
  49. Vo TLH, Thiel D (2006) A system dynamics model of the chicken meat supply chain faced with bird flu. University of Nantes and ENITIAA Nantes, LEM-LARGECIA, France. http://www.systemdynamics.org/conferences/2008/proceed/papers/VO153.pdf. Accessed 1 July 2014
  50. Ziegler P (2013) The black death. Faber & Faber, USGoogle Scholar
  51. Zsidisin GA, Ritchie B (2009) Supply chain risk management—developments, issues and challenges. Supply chain risk. Springer, USGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© AESS 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EcoHealth AllianceNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations