Crop Biotech Update

WRI Report Says GMOs and Gene Editing Can Help Improve Crop Breeding to Boost Yields to Feed the World

December 12, 2018

A new report, Creating a Sustainable Food Future, published by the World Resources Institute (WRI) suggests ways of feeding the planet's almost 10 billion people by 2050 when food demand is set to rise by over 50%, and demand for animal-based food products (meat, dairy, and eggs) likely to grow by almost 70%.

The report states that the world must boost food production on existing agricultural land and that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and gene editing can help improve crop breeding to boost yields. According to the report, there is no evidence that GMOs have directly harmed human health. 

The report says that there is no silver bullet in producing enough food sustainably, but it offers a five-course menu of solutions to ensure feeding everyone without increasing emissions, fueling deforestation, or exacerbating poverty. WRI estimates that feeding the world sustainably while reducing agricultural land use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 will mean the whole world:

  1. reducing demand by cutting food loss and waste, eating less beef and lamb, using crops for food and feed rather than biofuels, and reducing population growth by achieving replacement fertility levels;
  2. increasing crop and livestock productivity to higher than historical levels, but on the same land area;
  3. stopping deforestation, restoring peatlands and degraded land, and linking yield gains to the protection of natural landscapes; 
  4. improving aquaculture and managing wild fisheries more effectively; and 
  5. using innovative technologies and farming methods that lower agricultural GHG emissions.

Creating a Sustainable Food Future has been produced by WRI in partnership with the World Bank, UN Environment, UN Development Programme, and the French agricultural research agencies CIRAD and INRA. For more details, read this news article from CIRAD. Download a copy of the report from WRI.