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Food exports can drain arid regions

Dry regions ‘export’ water as agricultural products

4:20pm, February 13, 2012

About a fifth of the water that humankind now uses gets exported from its original country to another — though rarely as anything that can splash into a glass.

Understanding the big blue picture of water resources means getting over the notion that water is wet. Ninety-two percent of water used planetwide goes into growing crops, according to the latest accounting from Arjen Hoekstra and his water research group at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. So for 1996 through 2005, Hoekstra and colleagues tracked “virtual water,” a combination of actual liquid and the shares of water used in industr

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