Preparing Enough Food For 2050

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Thanks to Anthropocene for this summary of news explaining why We don’t really need to double food production by 2050, provided by Emma Bryce:

It sounds daunting: by 2050 we’ll have to double our food production in order to satisfy the appetite of the planet’s rapidly expanding population. This statistic has become so deeply-ingrained, in fact, that it’s being used to shape future agricultural policy. But a group of researchers, publishing in the journal BioScience, have challenged that influential estimate, arguing that it’s due for a significant upgrade to bring it in line with recent data.

Their research actually paints a more optimistic picture of the planet’s future food needs—while stating that far more attention must be paid to farming’s environmental impact.

The oft-repeated ‘double food production’ figure arose a few years ago from some landmark studies carried out by the United Nations and others. Their findings relied on baseline food production estimates from 2005, and the predicted population increase from the time. But the new research, produced by a collaboration of researchers from Pennsylvania State University, the University of New Hampshire, and Colorado State University, reconsiders that information: for their study they used more recent data about global food production (from 2014), as well as up-to-date global population estimates for 2050 (which were actually higher than those in the original studies). As a proxy for global food demand, they focused on cereals, the planet’s most dominant agricultural crop.

Using this newer data, the researchers found, surprisingly, that a food production increase of between 25 percent and 70 percent on current levels would actually be sufficient to meet the world’s future food needs. This “recalibrated vision”, as they call it, shows that while food production certainly needs to go up, it can increase at roughly historic rates—which makes the task of feeding the planet’s population more achievable…

Read the whole summary here.

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