Could Europe be facing a food shortage?
As Europe experiences more extreme weather events, the European Union has seen major economic losses in the farming industry. And in a report, the European Environmental Agency (EEA) has warned that food production could be at risk in the coming years.
In the report, the EEA points to the increasing temperatures, as we’ve seen in this summer’s heatwaves, Europe is getting warmer. And with this predicted to continue, there are warnings that in Southern Europe, food production of cereals could drastically decline, which would push food prices up.
EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said in the report: “New records are being set around the world due to climate change and the adverse effects of this change are already affecting agricultural production in Europe, especially in the south.”
It’s important to note, however, that these predictions are based on a worst case scenario. The figures used are at the highest end of the emissions. Based on these figures, yields of crops like corn, sugar beet, and wheat, could drop by up to 50% by 2050 in Southern Europe.
This loss of production would be offset slightly by longer growing seasons in Northern Europe. But in Southern member states, there would be a huge loss of income for the affected farmers, and their land could fall in value by as much as 80% by 2100.
Many EEA countries have already adopted strategies to deal with this potential problem. For example, they have introduced measures like better irrigation techniques, precision farming using drone and satellite technology, or adapted crops.
The authors of the report added that “while food security is not under threat in the EU, increased food demand worldwide could exert pressure on food prices in the coming decades. Consumer behaviour will also need to change. Changing diets, like eating less meat and reducing food waste would contribute to additional reductions.”