The Import Issue
All countries import food, however some have a dependence on food imports in order to survive which leads to an increased demand for food imports. There are 66 countries in the world that are dependent on importing food in order to feed their population (Dieter Gerten 2013.) Currently, 950 million people (16% of world population) use the opportunities of international trade for covering their demand of agricultural products (Gerten 2013.)
The problem with more food imports is that it causes pollution. The pollution can come in several different forms including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs). However, the most common form of pollution is the carbon emissions that come from the exhaust of transportation vehicles. In a study conducted in California in 2005, almost 250,000 tons of global warming gases released were attributable to imports of food products which, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), is the equivalent amount of pollution produced by more than 40,000 vehicles on the road or nearly two power plants. (Izeman 2007.)
The Scary Part
The consequences of the emission of all of the carbon gasses and CFCs and PFCs and all of the various forms of pollution, is that they all factor into global warming. Global warming, also known as climate change, is the gradual increases of the worlds temperature via many routes, however the main one is due to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is when solar radiation is trapped in the earth’s atmosphere rather than being reflected back out into space. This trapped solar radiation makes the global temperature rise and as a result is a cause for the globe becoming warmer.
It's Also a Human Issue
The pollution from food transport has also been linked to illness of those that live near transport sectors. In a study in California, they discovered approximately 950 cases of asthma, 16,870 missed school days, 43 hospital admissions, and 37 premature deaths could be attributed to the worsened air quality (Izeman 2007.) In fact, the California Air Resources Board estimates that in 2005 alone, 2,400 premature deaths and 2,800 hospital admissions for asthma and other diseases were attributable to direct and indirect exposure to diesel pollution from freight transport activities within the state (Izeman 2007.)