As projections for the increase in global population predict a leap of 2 billion people by 2050, to a staggering 9.3 billion, the question of providing enough food for that many people poses a serious challenge to researchers and policymakers.
The United States can rest assured that its food security ranks first in the world, but the increase in world population will require significant measures to ensure food is supplied to everyone, commented Paul Schickler, president of DuPont Pioneer, a U.S.-based manufacturer of hybrid seeds for agriculture.
The estimated increase in population comes from a recent report from the United Nations' Department of Economic and Social Affairs. UN officials raised concerns that food shortages would become a more pressing issue, especially in some parts of the world. Food manufacturers will have to ramp up their production in order to provide food for consumers, the report noted. According to Robert L. Thompson of Johns Hopkins University, world food production would have to expand by at least 60 percent or even 70 percent by 2050, United Press International reported.
New research from a panel of economists and industry representatives organized by Johns Hopkins found that the United States tops the food security index of 105 countries, with a total score of 89.6, followed by Norway at 88.6 and Denmark on 87.9. Despite that, Americans are not eating well in terms of nutritional quality. Moreover, the panel noted that agricultural research which has driven the U.S. food industry in the past has been stagnant lately.
In fact, it's not just in the United States where the quality of food is not perfect, but also in many other developed countries, said Leo Abruzzese, editorial director of the Economist Intelligence Unit, the research unit of The Economist. The main issue is the fact that the nutrients in food products are not of the best quality, protein in particular. Moreover, the U.S. Census Bureau has found that the overall consumption of essential nutrients, including vitamin A and vitamin C, has dropped significantly over the past 40 years, mostly due to nutrient depletion in the soil.
Schickler added that the solution lies in coordinated efforts between small and big commercial and organic farms to tackle nutrient deficiency at every step of the supply chain, all the way back to the soil.
Another factor that can prevent effective food supply is the subdued activity of the U.S. research and development sector, according to United Press International. Investment in agricultural technology seems to be stagnating, as budget challenges affect all aspects of government and public support of the industry. It is of paramount importance to boost agricultural research and development, Schickler said.