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      Energy Intensity of Agriculture and Food Systems

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          Abstract

          The relationships between energy use in food systems, food system productivity, and energy resource constraints are complex. Moreover, ongoing changes in food production and consumption norms concurrent with urbanization, globalization, and demographic changes underscore the importance of energy use in food systems as a food security concern. Here, we review the current state of knowledge with respect to the energy intensity of agriculture and food systems. We highlight key drivers and trends in food system energy use along with opportunities for and constraints on improved efficiencies. In particular, we point toward a current dearth of research with respect to the energy performance of food systems in developing countries and provide a cautionary note vis-à-vis increasing food system energy dependencies in the light of energy price volatility and concerns as to long-term fossil energy availabilities.

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          Food security: the challenge of feeding 9 billion people.

          Continuing population and consumption growth will mean that the global demand for food will increase for at least another 40 years. Growing competition for land, water, and energy, in addition to the overexploitation of fisheries, will affect our ability to produce food, as will the urgent requirement to reduce the impact of the food system on the environment. The effects of climate change are a further threat. But the world can produce more food and can ensure that it is used more efficiently and equitably. A multifaceted and linked global strategy is needed to ensure sustainable and equitable food security, different components of which are explored here.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Annual Review of Environment and Resources
                Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour.
                Annual Reviews
                1543-5938
                1545-2050
                November 21 2011
                November 21 2011
                : 36
                : 1
                : 223-246
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Global Ecologic Environmental Consulting and Management Services, Stratton, Ontario POW 1NO, Canada; email:
                [2 ]Natural Resource Management Center, School Of Applied Sciences, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire MK43 OAL, United Kingdom; email:
                [3 ]Agricultural Sustainability Institute and
                [4 ]Food Climate Research Network, University of Surrey, London N4 3BB, United Kingdom; email:
                [5 ]Institute of Environmental Sciences, Leiden University, Leiden 2300 RA, Netherlands; email:
                [6 ]Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Davis, California 95616; email: ,
                [7 ]KJKramer Consulting, Castricum 1901 AT, Netherlands; email:
                [8 ]College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, Syracuse, New York 13210; email:
                [9 ]Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station ART, Zurich CH-8046, Switzerland; email:
                [10 ]The Beijer Institute, Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, Stockholm SE-104 05, and Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden; email:
                Article
                10.1146/annurev-environ-081710-161014
                © 2011

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