Planet Earth Nature and Natural Disasters Part 3 Food and Population

About planet Earth, nature, and and natural disasters, the need for food and demands of population growth.

TROUBLE ON EARTH

Man's and woman's prolificacy is humanity's worst threat. Population is increasing faster than the means of adequately feeding the new "bodies." The Green Revolution has performed miracles of increased abundance. Wheat, Triticum sativum, feeds the Temperate Zone inhabitants of 5 continents. New high-yield hybrid wheats developed from a Japanese dwarf variety have brought an 80% increase within 24 years. Corn, Zea mays,--more than half of it grown in the U.S. and served to cows, pigs, and chickens--has fantastically productive new strains. Rice, Oryza sativa, is eaten by over half the planet's population, 90% of them inhabitants of Far Eastern nations. New high-yield rice strains are giving vastly increased harvests.

At the International Corn and Wheat Improvement Center, El Batan, Mexico, new experiments are under way in "wide crossing" of unrelated strains of wheat, barley, rye, wild grasses, and corn, in search of new superplants that will survive droughts, resist insects, and meantime yield tremendous and highly nutritive harvests. In 25 years or so, scientists hope to find the answer. Meantime, world population is expected to double by the year 2000.

Cereal manufacturers claim they can produce vegetable foods that would have the protein value of, taste like, and eliminate the need for animal "meat." More than 2/3 of the world's soybeans are produced in the U.S. The soybeans are fed to domestic animals or sold abroad for the same purpose (except for a small proportion used in Japan to make soy sauce, soybean cakes, and noodles). Yet, soybean has twice the protein content of an equivalent amount of meat or cheese and 10 times that of milk. However, people prefer to eat red meat, poultry, eggs, and milk.

Americans have recently begun to mix 44% of "textured soybean protein" with 56% ground beef for their hamburgers. The ultimate move might be to do away with the raising of livestock, and eat 100% vegetable hamburgers. The Japanese, guilty of overusing whale meat for protein, are presently experimenting with the direct use of the tiny phyto-plankton from Antarctica which forms part of the whale's diet. The Russians, equally guilty of overwhaling, are also working on an edi-"krill" paste.

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