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Biomes & Food Security: Food Production

cows at farm

Source: Annie Spratt (2016)

Food production and food security is deeply tied to biomes and their stability. With growing populations and a changing climate, the ways in which we produce our food are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Read through the resources below to learn more about food production and food security and how it impacts us.

Feeding a hungry nation: climate change, food and farming in Australia (Climate Council, 2015, October 19)

The price, quality and seasonality of Australia’s food is increasingly being affected by climate change with Australia’s future food security under threat, a new report reveals. Read through this article to learn more.

Food security (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2006, June)

This policy brief provides a good overview of food security issues across the globe and some of the changes humans can make to avoid food supply shortages in the coming years.

Sustainable solutions to end hunger (CERES 2030, 2020)

This publication opens with an editorial from Nature entitled “To end hunger, science must change its focus” followed by the Ceres2030’s foreword which was signed by Dr. Agnes Kalibata, UN Special Envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit and Dr. Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. It also encompasses the Ceres2030 summary report as well as the economic modeling that shows how much it would cost to end hunger, increase incomes and protect the climate by 2030, while assessing the best way to spend money across dozens of agricultural interventions in different countries.

International Food Policy Research Institute

This search engine provides access to a number of academic journal articles about food production and food security and is a great resource for further research.

Food security and food production systems (Porter, J.R., L. Xie, A.J. Challinor, K. Cochrane, S.M. Howden, M.M. Iqbal, D.B. Lobell, and M.I. Travasso, 2014)

This chapter from the book Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability provides a very in-depth look at the vulnerabilities in the food production system and how this impacts food security.

Food security and Covid-19 (World Bank 2021, November 16)

Many countries are facing growing levels of acute food insecurity, reversing years of development gains. Even before COVID-19 reduced incomes and disrupted supply chains, chronic and acute hunger were on the rise due to various factors including conflict, socio-economic conditions, natural hazards, climate change and pests. COVID-19 impacts led to severe and widespread increases in global food insecurity, affecting vulnerable households in almost every country, with impacts expected to continue into 2022 and possibly beyond. This brief looks at rising food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic and World Bank responses to date. 

What is food security and why does it matter? (Caritas Australia, n.d.)

Food is a fundamental human right - yet an estimated 690 million people go hungry every day. Not having enough to eat has ripple effects on health, the ability to get an education and earn a living, and the ability of a community and a country to flourish. Food security, as defined by the United Nations means that ‘all people, at all times, have physical social and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life’.  Although there have been huge improvements in fighting world hunger, it is currently on the rise, as many vulnerable communities in countries without food security are still struggling with malnutrition. Read through this website to learn more about food security and why it is important for global health.

The case for a national food strategy (Foodbank Australia, 2019, April)

This report form Foodbank Australia looks at food insecurity in Australia and looks at current government strategies to combat this, with suggestions on what else must be done to ensure all Australians have adequate access to food.

Food (United Nations, n.d.)

This website has some great data on food security globally and looks at how access to food impacts society and what processes can be used to avoid food insecurity across the planet.

Food print: Melbourne (University of Melbourne, n.d.)

These resources look at food production and food security in Melbourne. They includes lots of information as well as activities to support your learning.

Which biomes are able to produce food? (Oxfam Australia, n.d.)

Biomes exist on land and in oceans and differ according to their location and geographic characteristics. Topography (the shape of the land), climate and soils mean similar land biomes can have different species of plants and animals. Food can be produced from different biomes when people change the environment for example by ploughing the land, building greenhouses to grow plants, draining swamps and wetlands, building terraces on slopes etc. Read through this website to learn more about food production across different biomes and find activities to support your learning.

Palm oil (World Wildlife Fund, n.d.)

You may not know what it is or where it comes from, but you almost certainly eat or use palm oil on a regular basis. It's the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet and half of all packaged products contain it – from ice cream and instant to shampoo and lipstick. As our global population increases and becomes wealthier, the demand for palm oil is set to skyrocket. Read through this website to discover why the production of palm oil is having a huge impact on the environment and what can be done to reduce these impacts.

Palm oil - deforestation for everyday products (Rainforest Rescue, n.d.)

Palm oil is literally everywhere – in our foods, cosmetics, cleaning products and fuels. It’s a source of huge profits for multinational corporations, while at the same time destroying the livelihoods of smallholders. Displacement of indigenous peoples, deforestation and loss of biodiversity are all consequences of our palm oil consumption. Read through this website to learn more.

The effects of palm oil (The Orangutan Foundation, n.d.)

The main threat to the survival of orangutan populations in the wild is the massive expansion of palm oil plantations in Borneo and Sumatra. Read through this website to learn more.

Biggest food brands 'failing goals to banish palm oil deforestation' (The Guardian, 2020, January 17)

Some of the world’s biggest brands are failing in their commitments to banish deforestation from their supply chains through their use of palm oil, despite making public claims to environmental sustainability, according to two reports. Read through this article to learn more.

How palm oil became the world’s most hated, most used fat source (The Conversation, 2021, June 24)

Palm oil is everywhere today: in food, soap, lipstick, even newspaper ink. It’s been called the world’s most hated crop because of its association with deforestation in Southeast Asia. But despite boycott campaigns, the world uses more palm oil than any other vegetable oil – over 73 million tons in 2020.

Things to know about palm oil and Indonesia's raging forest fires (, 2019, September 19)

Forest fires raging across Indonesia have sent air quality levels across Southeast Asia plummeting as they belch out emissions that aggravate global warming.  The country's palm oil industry bears much of the blame for the out-of-control blazes critics say, as producers burn land to make way for their plantations. The pulp-and-paper sector has also come in for criticism over the issue, as have small-scale farmers who use slash-and-burn techniques to clear land for planting crops. Here's a look at palm oil and the role it plays in the smog crisis.

Palm oil (World in Data, n.d.)

This article looks at palm oil use across the world with great graphs showing palm oil use and a great discussion on the pros and cons of palm oil use.

Palm oil politics impede sustainability in Southeast Asia (The Conversation, 2016, April 20)

Palm oil, a vegetable oil used in many foods and other products, has come under fire for its role in deforestation, biodiversity loss and massive forest fires, as well as major social and economic conflicts. Read through this article to learn more about how palm oil is impacting sustainability in Southeast Asia.

Palm oil continues to destroy Indonesia’s wildlife (The Conversation, 2014, November 12)

In 2012, Indonesia broke the record for tropical rainforest clearing. An article in Nature Climate Change revealed Indonesia has cleared more than six million hectares of forest between 2000 and 2012. This is double that of Brazil’s, the previous record-holder for rainforest clearing. Brazil’s deforestation rate has fallen dramatically since 2004 while Indonesia’s rate of clearing continues to increase. Much of Indonesia’s clearing is for agricultural commodities in particular palm oil. Read through this article to learn about how palm oil industry is impacting wildlife.

Palm oil plantations threaten fresh water quality (The Conversation, 2014, July 15)

Significantly diminished water quality now joins the host of other risks associated with palm oil plantations. Researchers from Standford and the University of Minnesota have proven how land clearing, fertilisers, pest sprays and the processing of oil palm fruits has lead to sediment, nutrients and other harmful substances filtering into freshwater streams near plantations. Read through this article to learn more.