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Narrowing global food supply runs climate change risk

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New research has found that decreasing versatility in diets around the globe is making the food supply more susceptible to climate change related threats.

Co-author of the report Luigi Guarino from the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) says that higher living standards has resulted in the increased consumption of protein and fat, and in turn led to a “standard food supply” of crops, meat and dairy products, SBS News reports.

Guarino says that the narrowed food supply is becoming far more vulnerable to extreme weather events including drought - together with associated pests and diseases - and will be likely to intensify as a flow on effect of climate change. He also stated that human diets have become 36 percent more similar in the past 50 years.

"As the global population rises and the pressure increases on our global food system, so does our dependence on the global crops and production systems that feed us. The price of failure of any of these crops will become very high," said Guarino.

The research drew on data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and assessed more than 50 crops across 150 countries between 1961 and 2009. The data revealed that several food crops including wheat, rice, corn and potatoes are just as popular today in relative terms as they were 50 years ago, however crops such as rye, millet and sweet potatoes which were eaten widely 50 years ago, have now experienced a drop in consumption.

According to the research, wheat is now the major staple crop in 97.4 percent of countries.

The move to a more narrow 'western style' diet has been attributed to the rising middle class in the developing world.

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal this week.

Image: articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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