According to United Nations Organisation previsions, there will be 9 billion people in 2050. So, we will have two billion more people to feed.  The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that food production will need to increase by 70 percent by 2050 to feed the additional people. Currently, we are only 7 billions and have millions of people who are underfeed and starving. Then the question is how can we find the resources to feed 9 billion people ? Joel K. Bourne Jr asks in his new book, The End of Plenty: The Race To Feed A Crowded World subject several solutions.

earthday-food

 First, we have to control the population growth to avoid overpopulation. Indeed, if we reduced population number, we will reduce food quantity we need to produce. For instance, Iran has succeeded to control it’s population growth. They had an huge fertility rate in in the 1980s so they decided to make basic health insurance and primary care available to all. They started this system of Health Houses  where they trained men and women from each village to become the equivalent of an army medic. They will deal with sanitation issues, family planning and health. Health prevention and information was successful. Iran’s fertility rate went from more than six at end of the 80s to less than two by the early 2000s. In 15 years, they made the demographic transition. Countries which have huge fertility rate need to control it as Iran did.

Second, we must control and change our alimentation. Indeed, our world consumes too much meat which is the food which needs the most quantity of energy and water to produce. More, with emerging countries alimentation changement there is an increase in food demand, particularly for meat.  So, changing our eatings habits by eating less meat, having a vegan diet or trying insect to replace meat could be a solution to success to feeding everybody.

 

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Furthermore, we have to reduce Food Waste. For instance In the U.S. about 30 percent of the food is wasted. In the developing countries the waste occurs early in the supply chain due to failed crops, poor storage methods and problems transporting commodities.  Efforts to reduce food waste in both developing and developed countries could make a substantial impact on our ability to feed nine billion people by 2050.

Then we can think about Increase Yields and Expand Cropland Area. But The ability to increase farmland area is limited by space and the environmental damage. So, we will manage to increase yields by reduce using expenditures for research, and rising input costs.

Besides Genetically modified organism are a new technology solution which can allow us to feed the world. Indeed, GMO can improve legumes sprout and resistance to insect and herbicide as Roundup. Nevertheless, there is a fear that GMOs would cause catastrophic environmental or human health damages. In the future people will say if humans are more likely to die by diseases or from starvation.

 

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While hunger kills people, otheBiofuels which have been promoted as “green” energy. Indeed, biofuels were accused to be at the origin of the food crisis from 2007 to 2008. Biofuels uses food crops like soybeans, corn or sugar cane to produce energy. For example, United States is taking 40 percent of their corn crop and feeding it to their car manufaction. That represents enough corn to feed all Africa for a year. Another consequence is that food prices are rising because of oil prices which are higher than food prices. According to the World Bank  there is a direct link between the rise in food prices and the rise of biofuels. So, on one hand biofuels are an answer to environmental problems because it is a renewable energy derived from biomasses. But on the other hand, food production is in direct competition with green energy. Will we choose corn for food or corn for ethanol ?

 

 

 

 

References:

 

  • Can we Feed the World and Sustain the Planet ? Jonathan Foley, Director of the Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota, Scientific American, November 2011, pp. 60 – 65.

 

 

 

 

AGNELLI Marine

 

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