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Food Security in a Globalised Economy

An interesting article on the African Swine Fever (ASF) which has now hit Sth Korea piqued my interest in creating this topic. We have seen how rapid Climate Change has, can & will affect our food sources. This spread of ASF however is perhaps more about how as we become more mobile globally and industries move tech and food supplies around the world how we can manage to spread problems as well to our food supplies. I am not sure how the ASF has manged to spread but if the warnings are to be believed (I don’t see why they shouldn’t be) then a lot of the World’s & in particular Asia’s protein source could be at risk.

What measures do we need to take to protect food security is this much more open world?
How do we build resilience in our food supplies to avoid catastrophe?
How as consumers can we be better prepared or is there not much we can do?

For the article on ASF see:


It is now also in the Philippines.

And it is obviously devastating for China whose population consume 50% of global pork production.


The Chinese Authorities are saying it is only about 30 odd percent affected but in the article I linked it is estimated by others it could be around 70%. This has important ramifications for our food security and the article notes the disease can last for years in even heavily processed meat from infected animals.

Why I created this topic was to bring to our attention these threats but also to discuss ways we can help to alleviate any threats we may face to our country’s and our individual food security. What steps can we take a a home level, at a neighbourhood level, and expanding out from that to a national and international level.

Water security is becoming an obvious problem for those who have been suffering through this drought eg @gordon one of our members has his household personally affected, but under that is also the loss of food crops as they can’t be grown successfully. We talk about 90 days of fuel, but how often do we consider food and water shortages until they are on our doorstep?


This is the Department of Agriculture wbesite about ASF and FMD…

Like any biosecurity controls, many rely on those moving food or travelling to far-flung places to be honest in relation to what risks that may exist. Thinking such biosecurity controls does not apply to oneself, can pose a significant risk to the welfare of animals and our agricultural reputation of being ‘clean and green’.

Breaching property biosecurity controls, such as often done by activities, is a very simple way to spread pathogens and disease to susceptible animals.

Maybe activists could redirect their efforts supporting the control of such diseases, so that they can assist in protecting the welfare of animals in production in Australia.

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If we import the product and the meat or vegetable/grain is contaminated and accidentally gets into our food chain how do we get resilience to that spread? This can be innocent exposure not as a result of activism (which I understand your point about) but once it has infected our crops or herds how do we then deal with the resultant impact on our food resources? Do we have enough security built into our supplies that we could suffer a catastrophic incident and survive largely safe as a population, as an example like when Ireland had the Great Famine between 1845 and 1849 caused by the potato blight how would we fare, how do we respond now to possible threats??

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I think the ASF and FMD won’t end up like the Great Famine…possibly more like the Avian flu which has ravished many countries, many of which have poor or inadequate hiosecurity controls. It is worth noting that Avian flu is also highky contagious and devastating, and Australia has been able to manage the risks to date to keep this disease out if the country…while other countries have not been as successful.

Australia is not immune to disease outbreaks (Panama in bananas and canker in citrus) and fortunately with some of the best agricultural and biosecurity scientists, we have managed to contain such outbreaks.

Being an optimist, there is no reason why a outbreak of ASF and FMD could not be managed similar to previous isolated outbreaks.

Fortunately our agricultural sector is world class and most farmers are aware of the potential threats to their own production, as well as that of Australia. It n is likely that should there be any outbreak, it will be immediately reportednto allow a fast and appropriate response.

Unfortunately be above does not make good news with sensationalisy media, as it does not sell the news.

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Contain? Yes, although fresh outbreaks do occur.

Eradicated? NO

There are very clear prohibitions against the movement of many plants and agricultural products within Australia. The list is much longer than just banana plants.

Should any of us place confidence, in the ownership of large agricultural enterprises to do anything other than to look after short term vested interests?

We only need to look to the rorts of water allocations and harvesting in western NSW or illegal land clearing in Qld to be extremely sceptical. Just one more harvest from a crop area with a few pockets of disease, before it is revealed to the world, or fallow the next year and hope for the best.


Tamworth and surrounds will be on level 5 water restrictions from Monday, yet on my bike rides I see farmers running big sprinklers for many hours per day from their bores to keep their lawn around the house green. Watering so much it runs down the side of the road, which is grossly irresponsible IMO, as it is taking water from the water table/Peel River, denying it to those downstream. Also Irrigators are still spraying water around on hot windy days, wasting much of it, yet people in town aren’t allowed to water their vegetable gardens.


EEA an agency of EU has released a report about how Climate will affect agriculture in Europe. In the article about the report it states “The study says that adapting to climate change must be made a top priority for the European Union’s agriculture sector if it is to improve resilience to extreme events like droughts, heatwaves and floods[my highlighting]”, this resilience to both climate and disease is what concerns me in this topic. What can we do to make us more resilient to possible “bad” effects. As I noted above even at a household level what are some steps we can take to make us more resilient, more able to cope with adverse effects.

To read the article and possibly view the video see:

To read the report see:

To download it:


Nor do I but who really knows what the long term impacts will be.

Being prudent and taking preventative steps rather than reactive steps in regards to risk strategies is just good sense. We are too often reacting to a current problem and we face much greater risks from that behaviour. In the Emerald Qld outbreak Citrus Canker was already well entrenched before significant action was taken, how did it get here? An article from the time makes some suggestions and does it increase my faith in the system, not particularly!

Further let us not forget White spot in prawns and that we now have that introduced into our environment. Can it be eradicated? Likely no, and can it be contained? Probably no again.


As I outlined above, not reporting has far more consequences than reporting. Not only the consequences under the relevant legislation, but if a property owner/company fails to report, it will most likely impact on the future operations of the property in question along with any future opportunities. It is also likely that gaining ag finance and insurance will be near impossible and the property owner will not have much of a future in any ag industry. Having a business under a biosecurity management program is far better than having nothing.

There is precedent in the animal industry, while not relating to food production, where a disease was reported soon after it was identified and then quarantines/biosecurity controls out into place…this was equine influenza of about a decade ago. Through control measures, the disease was quickly combatted and there has been no reports of the disease in Australia since 2007. I (un)fortunately had first hand experience of the biosecurity controls implemented for equine influenza as my employment at the time required entering multiple properties which contain horses.

There are no reasons why a property owner would conceal a disease outbreak…while it may seem difficult to understand, this is the case in Australia. If one does, the disease will quickly be identified by others and the house of cards will quickly fall on those who chose to conceal.

It is worth noting that in many other countries the level of awareness is low, the industry is not as professional as Australia and there are not the same biosecurity systems in place. Often in these countries disease can spread for some time before becoming noticed by someone…and at this point, it is often to late to try and control or eradicate (disease become entrenched). Fortunately Australia is far better placed to manage such risks…which has been evident in the recent past.


There are many good points for optimism in managing biosecurity risks in Australia.


Reasons or motivations?
People are not always rational in their behaviours. At least in the world of my experiences. Although these relate to only a handful of farmers. Corporations perhaps even less so, often placing themselves above accountability.

Not all farms or agricultural activities in Australia are owned by farmers! Some are owned as vast empires such as the past cattle interests such as the Kidman’s and Vesseys. Others such as Cubbie Station have significant foreign ownership as Investments.

Perhaps no different in corporate moral outlook than Australia’s big four banks. Trustworthy to the next Royal Commission?

Should we proceed assuming an assured level of behaviour and moral responsibility?

Acceptance not all instances of potential biosecurity risks may be promptly self reported would seem prudent if not essential.

It is remarkable that some recently discovered risks cannot be traced through a chain of events to a point of entry. Although with the more recent event of WSSV virus in prawns there is a probable sequence.

Failure at OS procurement, failure at quarantine on import, failure at market, product used for bait in local environment, disease discovered at a farm, other farms on inspection also found to have the virus.

While the focus was on containment, it’s unlikely we will know how many in the chain saw something out of the ordinary, and through ignorance or convenience chose to let things pass? It’s only Human!


Yes, but the risks continue to increase. An article in The New Daily points out the risk to our Honey and Bee industry over the Varroa Mite. The people trying to stop the introduction to Australia aren’t that confident about keeping it out, and really are trying to delay it as long as they can knowing that it will come to our shores:


Over the past decades right wing governments especially have gone for ‘Free Trade’ deals which now force us to import product from countries which are not clean. Tasmania seems to have held onto its borders but much of Australia now lies in danger of contaminating its produce.
Some of the many diseases just waiting to come in include foul brood disease (bees), blight (apples), chicken viruses, etc.
Politicians seem to not care about destroying the REAL competitive advantage we have in the global marketplace: CLEAN FOOD. Not only clean but free of many pesticides and herbicides as well. Highly sought after. Thrown away because morally corrupt governments decide to do a deal rather than protect the nation. What’s the definition of crime? This would have to be at the top of the list. I think they call it treason in some places. Here its called business.
Good post graholl and a few observant Australians as well.


I am not sure this is correct. Australia is a member of the World Trade Organisation, and many countries have challenged Australia’s quarantine laws so that their goods can be imported…and example is NZ over import of apples. Australia possibly could withdraw from the WTO, but this could have disastrous effects on our exports and many countries may decide to go elsewhere. Our current account which has been in surplus for the first time in decades would return to the red very quickly…and maybe Keating’s Banana Republic may also come into fruition.

In relation to FTA, as Australia is a net producer of foods and mineral resources, FTA’s allow Australia to export to many countries which otherwise it wouldn’t normally have such opportunities to do so. These FTAs secure rights to export such goods. As Australia is built on the sheep’s (mine dump truck) back, we rely on our exports for our domestic and international wealth and standard of living.

The downside of some FTAs is that there are agreements in relation to legal rights of businesses or other restrictions in relation to what has occurred in the past to protect foreign businesses and intellectual property, etc. Successive government have determined that such restrictions are minor compared to the benefits of the FTA to Australia.

The other thing is FTA or the WTO can’t force the importation of goods. They only can ensure that import of goods is possible/free up trade.

If there was no demand for foreign foods in Australia, then they would not be imported. As Australian consumers are driven mainly by price when shopping rather than country of origin, this creates a demand for products which may be produced more competitively overseas. I blame the Australian consumer and not government, FTAs, WTO or businesses. It is the consumer that create the demand for cheap goods, which creates a demand for cheaper imports.

I and some other members of this forum go against the norm and are willing to support local produce over imports where available…keeping our money in the Australian economy.


One of the easiest ways to ensure our food supplies is to eat less animal flesh. There is plenty of protein in vegetables and they harbour less microorganism that are likely to affect human health.
We can ensure there will be no food shortage by not having to grow crops to feed to animals. Better for our health, better for the environment and better for the animals!


With African Swine Flu now on Australia’s doorstep, we still have these type of brain-dead idiots.


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Yes and perhaps not as much as we might think.

As an example for an uptake of 50gms of protein daily. Just one bare minimum recommendation I read, but would not rely on, and noting there are other health considerations.

That equates to approx
2kg per day of broccoli or brussels sprouts,
0.7kg per day of lima beans,
0.4kg per day of soy bean sprouts.

All good when taken in moderation.

Other sources suggest much higher amounts of protein are required, EG based on body mass. There are health risks if the intake is too low. Apparently most health experts seem to refer to other needs such as amino amino acids in the diet, typically obtained through the consumption of meat based protein.

I wonder how vegetable sources of protein compare to cheaper meats or other alternatives for value?

I wonder what the elevated needs of high protein diets might be for athletes, those in heavy physical activity, or even for healthy childhood development?

It might be we need more than just vegetables for our future food supply. Would you like to upsize to extra chemically manufactured amino acids and vitamins with your vegetable burger today?


Mark I don’t think the examples you give are a good indication of protein levels in vegetables. Items such as tofu, lentils, peanuts, quinoa, sesame seeds and tree nuts etc all have high levels of protein.
There are also a lot of vegetable based meat copies on the market with adequate levels of protein.
All the higher protein vegetable products give much better value than meat.
Just so you don’t get the wrong impression I am an omnivore but do consume low levels of animal flesh.
There are quite a number of vegan athletes who get adequate levels of protein on a meat free diet.
All amino acids and vitamins are (bio)chemically manufactured in plants by the beauty of photosynthesis.

Hi John. I do appreciate your point. It does clarify what you were intent on communicating. Common usage suggests.

Nuts are nuts,
Fruits are fruits,
Seeds and grains are seeds and grains,
Legumes are … well legumes perhaps?
Vegetables are none of the above,
And Tofu is a manufactured or transformed product from soy.

Nothing to do with science, gastronomy, or phases of the moon. Just simply now I know food. Whether others agree it does not matter that much.

I simply looked to what I know as vegetables, and failed to find any better answers.

If one considers any food that is not meat when suggesting vegetables? I guess we both fly in the face of common use. If we can choose to agree on that point. Even our health experts promote the food pyramid by separating, fruit from vegetables from nuts and grains, etc.

Perhaps a more direct observation is a low or zero meat diet can be effective providing it has a balance of specific foods to replace the nutrients lost when reducing meat in the diet.

High protein source crops such as macadamia or cashews require high rainfall prime agricultural land or intensive irrigation. Yields/production levels are comparable to intensive dairy operation. Although nut farming is low effort for the income returned compared to dairy, chooks or pigs.