As China’s population continues to grow and move from the village to the city, they are becoming increasingly reliant on food imports. This trend has the potential to negatively affect not only China, but also the countries that provide these imports. In China, grain production has increased fivefold, lifting many people out of poverty. However, its demand for meat and necessary inputs to meat production can no longer be met domestically. Sixty percent of the soy feed used to fatten Chinese cows must be imported from places like Brazil. There, landowners are incentivized to farm for soy in leu of preserving the Amazonian rainforest, which significantly diminishes both global air and water quality.
The environmental impact of China’s increased food import demand are even worse domestically. Due to the Land Circulation reform policy, small farmers are able to rent out their land to larger combines. This increases productivity, but also destroys many local ecosystems. In some places, aquatic ecosystems have been driven past the point of no return and are now algae-dominated and lacking high-value fish. This rate of ecological deterioration will undoubtedly result in China’s continuing inability to feed its people in the long run. Further, reliance on imports will diminish China’s GDP, decrease the overall amount of farmable land, and leave city dwellers at the behest of foreign food exporters.