Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Feeding 9 billion

H. Charles J. Godfray and colleagues in the UK contributed a fine summary of the global food challenge to a special issue of Science last year. It strikes the right tone of concern falling short of panic.  It does well in selecting the most important literature to summarize.  It avoids partisanship in the well-drawn battle-lines over productivity-oriented solutions such as GMOs and conservation-oriented solutions such as low-meat diets.  The authors are happy to explain both approaches in a sensible way.  And yet the recommendations are substantial, not wishy-washy.  Here is the abstract.
Continuing population and consumption growth will mean that the global demand for food will increase for at least another 40 years. Growing competition for land, water, and energy, in addition to the overexploitation of fisheries, will affect our ability to produce food, as will the urgent requirement to reduce the impact of the food system on the environment. The effects of climate change are a further threat. But the world can produce more food and can ensure that it is used more efficiently and equitably. A multifaceted and linked global strategy is needed to ensure sustainable and equitable food security, different components of which are explored here.

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