An estimated 7 billion people are living on this planet, and that number is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. In any situation in which sharing is involved, issues of equity and distribution arise. USAID recently released an infographic related to population growth and the need to improve our agricultural practices in order to feed 9 billion mouths by 2050. It is evident that the only way to feed a growing population is to increase our food production, but at what cost?
The infographic makes an alarming assertion that “annual beef production must rise by over 100%” in order to feed our growing population. Brighter Green’s project on the harmful effects of the intensification of animal agriculture, Climate Change and the Globalization of Factory Farming, highlights the detrimental implications of adopting factory farming techniques throughout the world.
It is also common knowledge that a majority of grains we currently produce go to the animal agriculture sector to feed animals for slaughter. Wouldn’t our resources be better allocated if we increase our agricultural productivity to feed our growing population, rather than intensifying our meat production?
Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) has taken an interest in exploring the relationship between agriculture and the private and public sectors. A recent event for SAIS’s “Year of Agriculture” addressed the “cultural” war between conventional and organic farming. There are many issues associated with improving agricultural yields (including the use of genetically altered crops to increase production) so it will be interesting to see what kind of information can be derived from such debate. Ultimately, we need to feed our growing population by increasing agricultural production in the most sustainable way.
Photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon