China Strains to Satisfy Growing Demand for Meat
China’s growing appetite for meat and dairy is driving big changes in everything from farming to food safety, reports Mary Kay Magistad, correspondent for Public Radio International’s “The World” in the next installment of the “Food for 9 Billion” series airing on Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour.
The growing demand for meat has put a strain on China’s land and water resources. Agriculture runoff, mostly manure from large-scale farms, is causing water pollution within the country. Because of water shortages, China imports 70 percent of its soybeans and increasing amounts of its corn from the United States, Brazil and Argentina to feed its cows and pigs, Magistad reports.
Toxic blue-green algae blooms populate Anhui province’s Chao Lake. Photo by Cassandra Herrman.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set up an office in Beijing to help train hundreds of Chinese companies, government inspectors and officials in food safety. But some say the Chinese government is relying too heavily on inspections and needs to focus more on prevention, reports Magistad.
Chinese fed up with waiting for that to happen have started to find other ways to access safer food — like buying imported, processed, or organic food. With the increasing calls for more safe, affordable and environmentally friendly food, China’s leaders will need to show creativity and balance to meet those needs, she said.
Watch Magistad’s full report on Tuesday’s NewsHour and read her blog on The World’s website. The “Food for 9 Billion” series is a NewsHour collaboration with the Center for Investigative Reporting, American Public Media’s Marketplace, Public Radio International’s The World, and Homelands Productions.