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Am J Public Health. 2011 Sep;101(9):1587-97. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300123. Epub 2011 Jul 21.

Peak oil, food systems, and public health.

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Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Peak oil is the phenomenon whereby global oil supplies will peak, then decline, with extraction growing increasingly costly. Today's globalized industrial food system depends on oil for fueling farm machinery, producing pesticides, and transporting goods. Biofuels production links oil prices to food prices. We examined food system vulnerability to rising oil prices and the public health consequences. In the short term, high food prices harm food security and equity. Over time, high prices will force the entire food system to adapt. Strong preparation and advance investment may mitigate the extent of dislocation and hunger. Certain social and policy changes could smooth adaptation; public health has an essential role in promoting a proactive, smart, and equitable transition that increases resilience and enables adequate food for all.

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