Re: water for food -Reply

Bob MacGregor (RDMACGREGOR@gov.pe.ca)
Wed, 23 Jul 1997 15:02:00 -0400

I took a quick look at the New Scientist note that was referenced. It
wasn't terribly informative. Mostly, it referenced a more detailed article
in BioScience (Feb. '97), which I don't have ready access to. The article
is by David Pimental.
I think that the quoted amounts of water are totals required to produce
and deliver the final food product. Thus, a kg of beef would count all the
water required for the feed that went into the beef cow, too. Pimental
is clearly focussing on intensive irrigation, and is speaking to another
issue of sustainability, namely, there may not be enough irrigation water
to produce the food needs projected for the next century using current,
high-water demand food production methods. That seems a reasonable
proposition to me. More importantly, Pimental is condemning the
continued high rate of subsidization of irrigation water (worldwide) as
dangerously delaying the development of more water-efficient food
production systems. The adverse (and, I hope, unintended) effects of
government intervention should certainly resonate with most list
members.
I will withold judgement on the accuracy of the water-demand estimates
until I know more specifics about how the water consumption numbers
were estimated.
BOB