Current Global Food Production Won’t Meet 2050 Needs

The United Nations has announced that based on statistical projections the global population – which is currently made up of about 7.2 billion – at the rate we’re currently going, will increase to 9.6 billion by 2050, and 11 billion by 2100.

Medical Daily reports that in 1999 the population had only just broken passed 6 billion and exceeded 7 billion 12 years later in 2011.

The largest boom to the population will occur in Africa – currently the second-largest and second-most-populated continent.

Although it has abundant natural resources, Africa remains one of the world’s poorest and most underdeveloped regions. This is due to a variety of causes: the spread of deadly diseases, frequent tribal and military conflict, corrupt governments, human rights violations, failed central planning, and high levels of illiteracy.

The population there has already increased exponentially in the last 40 years, growing from roughly 221 million in 1950 to 1 billion in 2009. More than half of the citizens are under the age of 25 and are extremely impoverished.

Poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, poor health, and inadequate water supply and sanitation affect a large proportion of the people who reside in the African continent. Still Nigeria, a country located in West Africa, is expected to surpass the US and rival China and India by century’s end, according to USA Today.

Europe is expected to shrink by 14 percent over the next century as its people age and fertility declines. Eastern European nations like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, and Croatia will be hit especially hard in the coming decades, with declines of over 15 percent.

Even with the ebb and flow of fertility, depending on the region, the populace is going to increase. But current food production will fall seriously short of meeting the need in 2050, based on a University of Minnesota study published in PLOS ONE.

Research associate Deepak Ray and colleagues from the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota examined global agricultural production and found it would have to increase minimally by 60 percent to meet 2050 demands.

In the study, investigators assessed agricultural statistics from across the world and found that yields of four key crops – maize, rice, wheat and soybean – are only increasing 0.9.6 percent every year. At these rates, crop yields would only increase to 38 percent by 2050, rather than the estimated requirement of 60 percent.

IonE director Jon Foley, a co-author, was quoted by Bloomberg Businessweek on the study’s grim findings. “Clearly, the world faces a looming agricultural crisis, with yield increases insufficient to keep up with projected demands.”

In related research, several species of mammals and birds will be threatened with extinction as a result of the rising human population density. This is according to Jeffrey McKee and his colleagues from The Ohio State University. Their research has been published in Human Ecology.

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