2.4 billion extra people, no more land: how will we feed the world in 2050?
Steve Connor reveals how scientists propose a major policy shift to tackle one of the great challenges of the 21st century
The Independent, UK
Saturday, 22 January 2011
The finite resources of the Earth will be be stretched as never before in the coming 40 years because of the unprecedented challenge of feeding the world in 2050, leading scientists have concluded in a report to be published next week.
Food production will have to increase by between 70 and 100 per cent, while the area of land given over to agriculture will remain static, or even decrease as a result of land degradation and climate change. Meanwhile the global population is expected to rise from 6.8 billion at present to about 9.2 billion by mid-century.
The Government-appointed advisers are expected to warn that “business as usual” in terms of food production is not an option if mass famine is to be avoided, and to refer to the need for a second “green revolution”, following the one that helped to feed the extra 3 billion people who have been added to the global population over the past 50 years.
In the hard-hitting report, commissioned by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, the scientists will warn that the era of cheap food is over, and that governments around the world must prepare to follow the leads of China and Brazil by investing heavily in research and the development of new agricultural techniques and practices.