GCSE level School biology revision notes: Food security - needs, solutions, farming methods & issues

Use the page sub-index, take time to study the content or [Use the website search box] re-edit 11/05/2023

INDEX of notes on food security, sustainability and food production

population growth, food production and farming sustainability issues, applications of biotechnology, pest control, hydroponics

Doc Brown's biology exam revision study notes

 This page will help you answer questions such as ...

 How is food security defined?   How can we increase food production?  How can be devise sustainable agriculture?   Can GM crops help?

Why are GM crops controversial? Are there alternatives to GM crops? What are the problems in increasing food production?

Sub-index for this section on food security and sustainable food production

1. Thoughts on the world's population, need for increased food production and energy

2. What is food security? (UN definitions)

3. What threatens food security? What threatens increasing necessary food production?

4. Ways of tackling food production to avoid food insecurity (index to pages 4a to 4j)

See also Genetic engineering: uses - including GM crops

Keeping healthy - diet and exercise, diabetes, body/mass/hip indexes

Food tests for reducing sugars, starch, proteins and lipids (fats and oils)

ALL my Biology Notes

Find your GCSE science course for more help links to revision notes

Use your mobile phone or ipad etc. in 'landscape' mode

This is a BIG website, you need to take time to explore it [Website Search Box]

email doc brown

Learning objectives for this section on food security and food production

  • Know and understand that at each stage in a food chain, less material and less energy are contained in the biomass of the organisms.

    • Realise that this means that the efficiency of food production can be improved by reducing the number of stages in food chains.

    • As you move up a food chain, at every stage you lose biomass and therefore energy, so the greater the number of stages in food chain from producer to final consumer, the food production becomes less and less efficient.

    • Because of the fewer stages in the food chain, it is more efficient to produce food by growing crops than raising herds of animals if you compare the efficiencies of equal areas of land.

    • However a healthy diet should be varied diet, so meat or meat substitutes are important, but it is possible to grow cereal crops with a higher protein content.

    • Also, not all land is suitable for growing crops and poor quality land in upland areas of wild moorland may be more suitable for sheep for mutton and deer for venison.

  • Know and understand that he efficiency of food production can also be improved by restricting energy loss from food animals by limiting their movement and by controlling the temperature of their surroundings.

    • Intensive farming, where animals are constrained in large 'sheds' with limited movement and kept in a warmer environment, does improve efficiency of meat production making it cheaper for the farmer to produce food by reducing production costs.

    • This makes cheaper food for us via our local shops and supermarkets and supermarkets have a powerful influence on the cost of food but are increasingly being pressured to source from farmers who adhere to strict standards of animal husbandry - but this is not the case in all countries.

    • Less energy is wasted as body heat and animals grow fatter on less food, and animal feed is becoming increasingly costly, but, at what cost to the quality of existence of these factory farmed animals?

    • There are also disadvantages to intensive farming eg the over-crowded conditions are ideal for the spread of disease eg avian flu in chickens, foot-and-mouth-disease in cows. To combat these diseases by treating the animals with antibiotics increases production costs and introduces these same antibiotics into the food chain, so potentially weakening our own immune system if we become infected.

    • But, these 'factory farming' methods means the lives of the quality of life of these animals is much reduced compared to living out in open fields with plenty of space to move about freely, fresh air and sunlight, hence consumer demand for organic meat from animals not intensively farmed.

  • Know and understand that fish stocks in the oceans are declining.

    • Know that it is important to maintain fish stocks at a level where breeding continues or certain species may disappear altogether in some areas.

    • Fish stocks of popular varieties are becoming alarmingly low in many regions of our seas and oceans due to over-fishing, which itself derives from the food demands of increasing population.

      • Its ironic that a lot of fish is used as 'unnatural' feed for the contained intensive farming of other species such as trout and salmon in fish farms.

    • Know and understand that net size and fishing quotas play an important role in conservation of fish stocks.

      • Fishing quotas are all about controlling the number of fish caught and the size of the fishes allowed to be caught e.g. fishing boat catches are carefully monitored and recorded and fishing nets inspected to check that the mesh spacing in the nets is not too small so that too many small immature fish (who can breed later) are not caught and hopefully unwanted species of fish or other marine creatures (eg crustaceans like crabs, lobsters, crayfish) can escape!

      • Understand that this is an example of sustainable food production, so that the numerical catch rate can match the numerical growth rate of the fish species we like to eat.

        • In fact in some areas, some fish species are so low in numbers, the catch rate is being highly restricted or banned all together to give the fish stock in the seas to get back to a sustainable level.

      • Such methods are needed because food chains are being disrupted and species may die out from particular oceanic regions from intensive fishing from huge trawlers and factory ships.

  • Know and understand that the fungus Fusarium is useful for producing mycoprotein, a protein-rich food suitable for vegetarians and is a meat substitute eg like the commercial product 'Quorn' (though it does need tasting up a bit!).

    • Know that the fungus is grown on glucose syrup (supplies energy for the process as well as the carbon, hydrogen and oxygen for the protein molecules), in aerobic conditions (air containing oxygen needed), with a source of nitrogen eg ammonia or ammonia compounds (nitrogen is the other important element in amino acids and proteins).

    • Fungi grow rapidly in moist warm conditions so production rates are quite efficient and it doesn't require as much land - though do need sufficient land to the maize from which the glucose syrup is made. When the raw materials have been consumed by the Fusarium fungi the biomass is harvested and purified to be used in various food products.

    • The glucose syrup is made from breaking down maize starch with the appropriate enzyme containing microorganism, though in the mycoprotein production it is important that only the correct microorganism is present to ensure the right biochemistry happens and other microorganisms start multiplying. Therefore all ingredients must be heated and sterilised to kill all microorganisms and the air filtered to remove airborne microorganisms, before the mycoprotein forming fungi are introduced into the fermenter - which itself must be first sterilised with very hot steam.

    • In poor third world countries mycoprotein might be a good efficient substitute for inefficient meat production from animals grazing on large areas of relatively barren infertile land, but is the source of nitrogen from ammonia cheap? I don't think so?

  • Know and understand that humans often upset the balance of different populations in natural ecosystems, or change the environment so that some species find it difficult to survive.

  • Know and understand that with so many people in the world, there is a serious danger of causing permanent damage not just to the local environments but also to the global environment unless our overall effect is managed carefully.

  • Know and understand that humans rely on ecosystems for food, water and shelter.

  • You should be able to use your skills, knowledge and understanding to:

    • analyse and interpret scientific data concerning environmental issues,

      • In examination questions you may be given data to work on,

    • evaluate methods used to collect environmental data and consider their validity and reliability as evidence for environmental change,

      • There is a considerable amount of climate data being collected around the world every day and many weather records go back tens and even hundreds of years.

      • Thermometers provide temperature data of the air and oceans, water collectors for rainfall, snowfall records, glacier size and their rates of melting, satellites can map rain clouds, storm patterns, glacier areas etc.

      • So, we are not short on data, and the consensus is that the Earth is warming, and by 1-2oC over that past 100-150 years. It doesn't sound much, but a 1oC rise does represent a huge amount of extra energy in our global weather system!

      • It is important that the data record is as long and accurate as possible. Computer modelling of the climate and trying to make predictions is not easy because there are so many variables and many not very predictable.

    • evaluate the methods being used to feed and provide water to an increasing human population, both in terms of short term and long term effects,

    • evaluate the use of biogas generators,

      • You should have considered a number of biogas generator designs ranging from third-world generators supplying a single family to commercial generators,

      • you should understand how the output from a biogas generator might be affected by climatic conditions,

    • evaluate the positive and negative effects of managing food production and distribution, and be able to recognise that practical solutions for human needs may require compromise between competing priorities,

      • You should consider:

        • the differences in efficiency between producing food from animals and plants,

        • the pros and cons of factory farming of animals,

        • the implications of ‘food miles’ - some food imports have come from thousands of miles away from the source of food production.

        • There are several issues which makes this an undesirable situation It adds extra costs to the consumer.

        • The transport costs increase the price of the food.

        • There is environmental damage from burning more fossil fuels - carbon dioxide -global warming - climate change.

        • These food imports often originate from third world countries where this is pressure to increase the national income from selling cash crops to foreign countries, BUT, many of the people in these exporting countries do not access to good food supplies - its the richer important countries who often benefit the most.


HOME PAGE of Doc Brown's Science

UK KS3 Science Quizzes for students aged ~11-14, ~US grades 6 to 8

BiologyChemistryPhysics notes for GCSE/IGCSE  students aged ~14-16, ~US grades 9 to 10

Advanced Level pre-university Chemistry revision notes for students aged ~16-18 ~US grades 11 to 12

  Keywords for gcse biology revision notes on food security: GCSE 9-1 biology biological science IGCSE biology revision notes food security KS4 biology Science notes on food security GCSE biology guide notes on food security for schools colleges academies science course tutors images pictures diagrams for food security science revision notes on food security for revising biology modules biology topics notes to help on understanding of food security university courses in biological science careers in science biology jobs in the pharmaceutical industry biological laboratory assistant apprenticeships technical internships in biology USA US grade 8 grade 9 grade10 AQA GCSE 9-1 biology science notes on food security GCSE notes on food security Edexcel GCSE 9-1 biology science notes on food security for OCR GCSE 9-1 21st century biology science notes on food security OCR GCSE 9-1 Gateway  biology science notes on food security WJEC gcse science CCEA/CEA gcse science gcse biology revision notes on food security

KS3 BIOLOGY QUIZZES ~US grades 6-8 KS3 CHEMISTRY QUIZZES ~US grades 6-8 KS3 PHYSICS QUIZZES ~US grades 6-8 HOMEPAGE of Doc Brown's Science Website EMAIL Doc Brown's Science Website
GCSE 9-1 BIOLOGY NOTES GCSE 9-1 CHEMISTRY NOTES and QUIZZES GCSE 9-1 PHYSICS NOTES GCSE 9-1 SCIENCES syllabus-specification help links for biology chemistry physics courses IGCSE & O Level SCIENCES syllabus-specification help links for biology chemistry physics courses
Advanced A/AS Level ORGANIC Chemistry Revision Notes US K12 ~grades 11-12 Advanced A/AS Level INORGANIC Chemistry Revision Notes US K12 ~grades 11-12 Advanced A/AS Level PHYSICAL-THEORETICAL Chemistry Revision Notes US K12 ~grades 11-12 Advanced A/AS Level CHEMISTRY syllabus-specificatio HELP LINKS of my site Doc Brown's Travel Pictures
Website content © Dr Phil Brown 2000+. All copyrights reserved on revision notes, images, quizzes, worksheets etc. Copying of website material is NOT permitted. Exam revision summaries & references to science course specifications are unofficial.

 Doc Brown's Biology exam study revision notes


Find your GCSE science course for more help links to revision notes


TOP OF PAGE and sub-index on food security