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article imageKey technologies identified to boost food production by 2050

By Tim Sandle     Jul 20, 2019 in Environment
Findings produced by the World Bank and United Nations to address climate change and excessive population growth center on the application of new technologies. One of the most important applications are measures to prevent agricultural emissions rising.
The output of the analysis comes in the form of a report from the World Resources Institute where researchers discuss the ramification of a global population projected to increase by nearly 3 billion and the associated impact on food supply and the environment, in terms of the levels of energy required to support this vast number of people.
The new report is titled "Creating A Sustainable Food Future: A Menu of Solutions to Feed Nearly 10 Billion People by 2050."
The report opens by setting out the global problem statement as things stand today, which is that hundreds of millions of people remain hungry, agriculture currently uses up half of the world’s vegetated land, and agriculture generates one-quarter of annual greenhouse gas emissions.
The report then considers how things can move forwards - how does agricultural production grow to meet a growing population whilst reducing its environmental impact? The focus of the report moves to looking at the steps necessary to secure a sustainable food future for the projected population numbers (which means 56 percent more crop calories to be produced I 2050 than were produced 2010 - an issue described as 'the food gap').
This is while avoiding deforestation, avoiding restoring abandoned and unproductive land (if things continued as they are, an additional 593 million hectares of land will be required, which equates to the size of India).
A third important goal is helping to stabilize the climate. The projected level of atmospheric emissions, based on current agricultural use would see an increase of 11 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050 unless new measures are put in place.
To address these dilemmas, the researchers discuss ten specific technologies that, when combined, would go a major way to increasing food production and helping to control climate pollution. These technologies include progressing with genome editing tools like CRISPR in order to identify traits in crops that could be used to boost yields and re-orientating food production towards plant-based meat replacements.
Other ideas include using nontoxic spray-on films to extend the shelf life of foods, and avoid food wastage. In terms of direct carbon impact, it is recommend that different types of rice be used to lower the level of methane production in rice fields as well as alternative fertilizers that limit soil microorganisms from producing dangerous levels of nitrous oxide (it is also possible to produce through genetic engineering new verities of crops that can absorb greater amounts of nitrogen). Further with emissions it is possible to provide food supplements to cattle which can lower their methane emissions.
To add to these the other technologies include developing algae-based fish feeds as feed for farmed fish, thereby increasing farmed fish production and reducing the need to fish for wild fish in the oceans. Also under consideration is the wider application of solar power for fertilizer production.
More about Climate change, Global warming, Population growth
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