Immediate Environmental Stressors on Food Security
This chapter considers the immediate forces influencing China’s food system and food security. By immediate is meant events of the reform period, from the late 1970s to 2009. It begins by asking the question that has preoccupied specialists since the publication of Lester Brown’s Who Will Feed China? in 1995: How much arable land does China have? Is that land area sufficient to insure grain sufficiency? To insure food security? The chapter focuses on the human pressures on the food production environment, and then treats the effects of socioeconomic change: land, air, and water degradation. The core of the chapter examines seven responses of the state to both perceived and actual environmental stressors: policy restricting arable land conversion, China’s one-child policy, investment in irrigation systems, large-scale dam construction, the South-North Water Diversion Project, large-scale afforestation and reforestation campaigns, and the program to convert marginal agricultural lands to forests and grasslands.