Although the global population is forecast to hit 9.4 billion by 2050 compared to just 7.2 billion today, the stark reality is: without the promised food supply productivity, the world’s population will never approach 9.4 plus billion people, because there simply will not be enough food to go around.
The global population is forecast to hit 9.4 billion by 2050 compared to just 7.2 billion today. World food resources are already stretched to breaking point, with over one (01) billion people currently malnourished or starving.
The agricultural industry is constantly being urged to raise productivity and pull a ‘rabbit out of the hat’ in terms of the ‘five loaves and two small fishes’ policy that has thus far struggled to supply the world’s burgeoning population.
The stark reality is: without the promised food supply productivity, the world’s population will never approach 9.4 plus billion people, because there simply will not be enough food to go around.
Unsurprisingly, the tools to deliver evermore food productivity are already in our box of tools. We have a multitude of spanners which fit most sizes of nut; we have screwdrivers that can cope with almost any type of screw on the planet; and if all else fails we have a huge great hammer to get the job sorted.
If only it were that simple. The European Union is presently engaged in a hand-wringing and soul-searching debate about whether or not to embrace bio-technology – and all of its potential benefits – or whether to just bury its head in the sand and revert to the Dark Ages of food production.
Genetically modified crops have now been grown and consumed for over 20 years, with over 1.5 billion ha of production already under its belt, and growing by about 5% annually. Europe is rapidly becoming a backwater in terms of agricultural progress, as it seeks to simultaneously limit vital crop protection products, and at the same time live in denial of the potential benefits that bio-technology might deliver.
Developments in crop technology are running in overdrive as we speak: our understanding of what makes plant life tick has never been more comprehensive. Centuries of accumulated knowledge are coalescing into a truly bright future for food production, offering the potential for food shortage and starvation to be cast into the annals of history.
The only question is: Will we be allowed to use our toolbox, or will it be confiscated by those who propound caution and regression when it comes to our future food supply. Time will be the ultimate judge of where we are going to end up.
But one thing is for certain — a global population of 9.4 billion is a bridge too far, without allowing agricultural technology to have its head.
Robin Limb is an independent agricultural consultant from Hunstanton, Norfolk, United Kingdom.