Water & Enviroment

Nutrition and Water Management: Conflicting Interests

Demographic development and changed eating habits take up more and more resources. The research project GERN by the Vienna University of Technology looks into ways out of the dilemma

The Austrian cabaret performer Helmut Qualtinger is often quoted as saying: “Simmering vs. Kapfenberg (editor's note: two soccer clubs), that’s what’s really hard”. This quote also tends to come to mind when we think of the conflicting interests of water management and agriculture.

And yet, it is our own eating habits that determine the criteria to be met by agricultural production. Meanwhile not only experts but the general public is aware of the adverse impact of agriculture. The main factors that may lead to problems with water management are the enormous water consumption, the discharge of nutrients and pesticides into surface waters and the large land areas needed for agricultural production.

The seriousness of the problem depends on current agricultural practices and regional conditions. Apart from the conflicts with water management, also livestock farming is meanwhile identified as a serious problem due to the emission of greenhouse gases.

Only recently, growing attention is being paid to the interrelationship between agricultural production and human food consumption and eating habits. In our western society, we consume significantly more animal foodstuff than a healthy balanced diet suggests. In terms of energy supply (calories), however, the production of animal foodstuff devours five to six times the resources (e.g. space, fertilizer, water) needed for the production of the same amount of plant-based foodstuff.

To read the full article please download the file below.

(Source: aqua press Int. 2/2009. a.o.Univ.-Prof. DI Dr. Matthias Zessner)


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