OF LOU DOBBS SEGMENT, "A Crowded Nation,"
October 16, 2003
DOBBS: Tonight, in our special report "A Crowded Nation,"
a national crisis looms, caused in part by a rapidly growing population.
The problem is the food supply. Because of our population growth
and other factors, including far too much commercial fishing, to
the overdevelopment of our farmland, this nation is clearly headed
Peter Viles is here know now and has the report -- Pete.
PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, we grow up in this country
somehow believing we have this inexhaustible supply of farmland
and of food. But that's simply not the case. The truth is, current
policies and practices are unsustainable.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) VILES (voice-over): For seafood chef Rick Moonen,
money is no object. But for years, he has been boycotting certain
popular fish, from Atlantic swordfish to Chilean sea bass, in a
crusade against aggressive fishing techniques that threat to wipe
out entire stocks.
RICK MOONEN, CHEF: If we sit around and wait for the government
to do something about it, we're going to be eating canned tofu,
flavored with tuna or something, because there won't be any left.
Seriously, we're going to be loving fish to death. It's going to
VILES: Commercial fishing is now so ruthlessly effective that 86
different stocks monitored by the federal government are so depleted,
so threatened, the government classifies them as overfished, including
haddock, cod, Atlantic sea scallops, and bluefish. Researches believe
the ocean looked like this 40 years ago, and now this, after too
much fishing. That excessive fishing and pollution have created
giant dead zones in the ocean.
RANDY OLSON, MARINE BIOLOGIST: One of the biggest of which
is in the Gulf of Mexico that is the result of the waste coming
out of the Mississippi River that has caused a region, they say,
that's larger than the size of the state of New Jersey in which
there's little more than jellyfish and bacteria there and none of
the original marine life.
VILES: Still, this is a nation that takes fresh seafood for granted
and fresh meats and produce, a land of plenty on a collision course
with crisis, because the nation's main source of food, its oceans
of farmland, is always at risk.
It takes an acre, slightly more of cropland, to feed one person
per year. But from 1982 to 2001, cropland available to feed Americans
declined, from 420 million acres to 370 million, while the nation's
population rose by 60 million. That means the point at which America
can no longer feed its population is fast approaching.
RALPH GROSSI, AMERICAN FARMLAND TRUST: We have been losing about
1.2 Million acres of farmland each year. And much of this is the
very best, most productive land near our metropolitan areas, because
our ancestors were pretty bright people. They settled where the
best farmland was.
VILES: Farmland has been disappearing most rapidly on the far edges
of sprawling cities, in Texas, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, and
VILES: The coming crisis in food in this country has huge ramifications.
It threatens $50 billion a year in U.S. agricultural exports. And
that means, Lou, that it also threatens the people who receive those
exports, people all around the world who are fed by the American
DOBBS: Not only is it a crisis for this country. But those countries
who are taking over $50 billion of our foodstuffs now, their populations
are also rising dramatically.
VILES: In some cases, even more rapidly.
DOBBS: Pete, thank you very much -- Peter Viles.
Tomorrow here on our special report "A Crowded Nation,"
we look at whether the United States has enough land to support
the needs of our fast-growing population. That's tomorrow night.
Please join us.