We all know the world’s population is rising and farmers are going to need to produce more and more food if we want to keep feeding all those people.
The world’s population is expected to hit 9 billion by 2050. Right now, we sit at about 7 billion.
Farmers will have to produce as much food as has been produced in all of Earth’s history in order to feed that population.
That’s a lot.
Our yields are growing, but not necessarily fast enough. Take a look at this graphic:
|Source: Washington Post|
The dots represent how our yields have been increasing since about 1950. The solid line shows how much the yields of each commodity will improve if the trends stay the same. Unfortunately, the dotted line indicates how fast the yields will actually have to improve in order to meet the world’s demands.
Here’s the thing: in some areas of the world, the yields aren’t rising at all. They’ve stagnated:
“There are two big reasons why yield gains could be stagnating, explained Jonathan Foley, an agricultural expert at the University of Minnesota, in an interview we did a few months back. “In many parts of the world, we haven’t seen enough investment in agriculture because of economics or policies or institutions,” he said. Many former Soviet states, say, could improve their yields through better fertilizer use. They just aren’t doing it.”
While there is a limit to how much a plant can produce, there is one thing that can help us: science.
It was science that allowed our yields to increase over the last 50 years. It was this progress and innovation that now allows a farmer to feed 155 people, rather than a mere 25.8 people back in 1960. (Source: Farmers Feed US) Fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, genetic modification, all of these things have helped move us forward and contributed to that number.
Want proof? Right now, even in the best crops, organic can only produce 2/3 the yield of conventional crops. Why? Because they aren’t using the most efficient methods or techniques. They’ve stagnated by using outdated farming practices. Quite frankly, they’re wasting valuable farmland.
We’re going to need more science, not less, if we can even hope of meeting the burdens of a growing population. Standing against GMO crops and advocating for a switch to organic farming is just hurting our chances of feeding the world’s population.
That means we’ll have even more people without food, more people that are starving. And, sorry folks, when food starts to run out, it won’t be the farm families that don’t get fed. We will survive.
It’s absolutely true that money gives us “purchasing power.” Make sure you spend yours wisely when you head over to the grocery store. Given the looming food crisis, are you going to support progress or starvation?