By 2050, it is expected that the world’s population will grow to nearly 9 billion, thus increasing our need for food by more than 100 percent. Currently 1 in 8 people, or 842 million, struggle with hunger every day. Even more so, roughly 1 billion people in the world are food insecure, meaning they lack the access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
While agriculture has already evolved to meet these intensely growing food demands, farmers will need to increase food production by 70-100 percent to meet global nutrition needs.
We already know that there is relatively little available land on which to cultivate food. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) projections indicate that 80 percent of the additional food required to meet demand in 2050 will need to come from land already under cultivation.
The result is that our farmers and food producers must produce those higher yields using the same (or less) acreage than they use today, while relying on fewer natural resources.
The need to act is imminent. Every single minute of every single day, 12 children in the world die from hunger. In fact, lack of food kills more people worldwide each year than war, AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
The United States is less affected by this tragedy, and so few Americans are concerned with increasing food production. We are very fortunate in this country to have a strong economy, a dedicated workforce, and good, diverse land from which to cultivate crops. U.S. consumers spent only 9.6% of personal disposable income for food in 2008. By contrast, consumers in other parts of the world must spend 50% or more of their income for food, and this is devastating for them.
However, there are still nearly 24 million Americans living in food deserts today, without ready access to affordable nutrition. These food deserts are just in one area of the country, they exist throughout the United States.
The success of our country is dependent on the success of other countries. By providing people with the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty (achieved by first fighting malnutrition), we create a more stable world. For every 5 percent drop in income growth in a developing country, the likelihood of violent conflict or war within the next year increases by 10 percent.
Humans have an innate desire to access more knowledge on a wide variety of subjects; biotechnology must be included in that. Farmers who utilize these modern agriculture techniques are contributing to our healthy, nutritious, and sustainable food supply. The more we can learn about biotechnology’s safety and applications in the real world, the more likely the general public will be to accept it as a major segment of agricultural production.