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Dr. Zeigler: Ag productivity helps mitigate the environmental impact of population growth and shifting dietary demand
This post originally appeared on the blog of GHI member Monsanto. Read the first section here and click through for the full article.
How can we feed the estimated nine billion people that will be on our planet by 2050, and do so in a way that preserves water, soil, air, forests, and environmental systems needed for our survival? As I wrote with Dr. Roberto Lenton on The Chicago Council’s Global Food for Thought blog, extreme weather in 2012 caused disruption for global food systems. Serious climate challenges compound the impact of our growing population and rising incomes in developing and transition countries on the global food supply.
The Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) and the Water for Food Institute of the University of Nebraska co-sponsored a panel of experts on March 20 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, to highlight these challenges and to propose emerging solutions. Entitled “Too Hot, Too Wet, Too Dry: Building Resilient Agroecosystems,” the panel session gathered agriculture, climate, and development leaders who provided insight into one of the most pressing issues of our time.
The panelists raised important points that are illustrated in GHI’s research focus—productivity along the agricultural value chain will help mitigate some of the impact on the environment as the world population grows and shifts its dietary demand. GHI highlights five policy priorities that will boost this productivity along the entire food system value chain: investing in research, enhancing private-sector involvement, adopting science- and information-based technologies, improving and investing in development assistance, and facilitating trade. Together, these policies are keys to unlocking the solutions to increase agricultural productivity and food availability, while decreasing water and land use and other inputs to minimize agriculture’s environmental impact.