Nature Emphasizes a Focus on Innovations that Nourish People and the Planet

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The latest issue of the journal Nature says that producing enough food to feed the expected global population of 9.1 billion in 2050 will be easy. It’s producing that food in a way that is also environmentally sustainable that will be the tricky part.

In order to feed the planet's growing population in an environmentally sustainable way, the magazine calls for a “wholesale realignment of priorities in agriculture research.”(Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

In order to achieve this goal, the magazine calls for a “wholesale realignment of priorities in agriculture research.” As extreme weather events increase due to climate change, and with finite availability of land, water, and chemical inputs, global food production will need to adapt in order to continue to feed the growing world population under increasingly constrained conditions.

Moving forward, agriculture research, according  to nature, must emphasize developing new crop varieties that “offer high yields but use less water, fertilizers or other inputs,” as well as crop varieties that are “more resistant to drought, heat, submersion and pests.” And just as important, argues the issue, is “lower-tech research into basics such as crop rotation, mixed farming of animals and plants on small-holder farms, soil management and curbing waste.”

The magazine also mentions the importance of increased agriculture funding, as well as the need to make sure that the funding is “focused on the needs of the poorest and most resource-limited countries.” These are the countries were the most of the world’s population lives and often, where the negative impacts of climate change are felt the most.

While acknowledging that the private sector and genetically modify crops could play important roles in the global fight to alleviate hunger, the magazine also notes that there is no silver bullet solution.  Only through an integrated approach will the world be able to not only produce enough food, but also produce it in a way that will nourish both the growing population and protect the environment.

To read more about innovations that increase yields while using less water, fertilizers or other inputs see: For Pest Control, Following Nature’s Lead. To read about innovations that improve crop yields while improving resistance to heat and pests see: Breeding Vegetables with Farmers in Mind. To read about the role of the private sector in improving farmer livelihoods see: In Eastern and Southern Africa, Improving Trade and Identifying Investment Opportunities and To Improve Competitiveness of Rural Businesses, Linking Farmers to the Private Sector. And to read about the potential role of genetically modified crops see: The Many Misconceptions About Genetic Engineering and Organic Agriculture and Looking for a Greener Revolution: Visit to AGRA.

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