Environmental Change and Food Security in Chinaby Jenifer Huang McBeath
Abstract This chapter defines food security as the condition reached when a nation’s population has access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet its dietary needs and food preferences. It stresses China’s importance to global food security because of its population size. The chapter introduces the contents of the volume and then treats briefly food security in ancient and dynastic (211 bc–1912) China. It examines environmental stressors, such as population growth, natural disasters, and insect pests as well as imperial responses (for example, irrigation, flood control, storage and transportation systems). The chapter also briefly int- duces the Republican era (1912–1949) and compares environmental stressors and government responses then to those of the imperial period. Keywords Food system • Food security • Food production regions • Environmental stressors (Population growth • Natural disasters • Insect pests and Plant diseases • Deforestation • Climate change) • Irrigation systems • Flood control • Grand Canal 1. 1 The Problem of Food Security and Environmental Change Food is the material basis to human survival, and in each nation-state, providing a system for the development, production, and distribution of food and its security is a primary national objective. Many forces have influenced the food security of peoples since ancient times, with particular challenges from natural disasters (floods, famines, drought, and pestilence) and growing populations globally.
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