by David A. Nuttle

  The need for food security is global. According to United Nations and world bank data, over 800 million people, worldwide, are living on the brink of starvation. After four decades of work in impoverished rural areas –in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and the U.S. – I am a personal witness to the general validity of these numbers. “Stop The Hunger’ reports that nearly 4 million American children, from low-income families, go hungry every day. Hunger is a universal problem. Terrorist threats to our food supplies have now made food safety and biosecurity a major issue in the U.S. and elsewhere. The FBI and CIA have both made public some credible intelligence reports indicating a possibility of biological attacks, by terrorists, against our food supplies. We now know that the FBI, CIA, and White House had advance warning of the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks of 9-11 (11 Sep 2001), but this intelligence information was essentially ignored. Many more Americans will die if we ignore intelligence on any terrorist plans for biological attacks (bioterrorism).

Hunger and terrorism are not new to the world, and mankind has long been forced to overcome these problems. In ancient China, an early version of aquaponics (fish x crops) was used to help overcome food shortages. When ducks were first used to help control weeds in rice paddyfields, the duck manure fertilized the rice crop – and the duck manure also provided nutrients for a companion algal crop. Upon making this discovery, Chinese historians report that tilapia fish were added to feed on algae growing the paddy water. Fish manure further boosted yields of the rice crop, and the algal fed tilapia increased food supplies. Of course, I wasn’t there to see this technology develop. But I have visited parts of China where this same technology is still used today.
Various forms of aquaponics have continued to evolve since the early Chinese model that combined paddy culture with algalculture, and aquaculture. Until recently, none of these were known by the name of aquaponics – a name derived from the combinations of aquaculture and hydroponics. I first used a version of aquaponics in 1960-61, in south Viet-Nam, when and where I helped to resettle over 300,000 Vietnamese refugees.

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