Crop Biotech Update

2-in-1 Strategy: Feed the World and Protect the Planet

October 14, 2011

A team of researchers from Canada, the U.S., Sweden, and Germany designed a plan to double the world's production while decreasing the environmental impacts of agriculture. They used crop records and satellite images from around the world to develop new models of agricultural systems along with their possible environmental impacts. Here's the five-point plan recommended by the researchers:

  1. Halt farmland expansion and land clearing for agricultural purposes, especially in the tropical rainforest.
  2. Improve agricultural yields through enhanced use of existing crop varieties, better management strategies, and genetics.
  3. Strategically supplement the land with water, nutrients, and agricultural chemicals.
  4. Designate croplands for human food production, animal feed, and biofuel production.
  5. Reduce waste in that path that takes food to mouth.

The researchers also outlined an approach to the problem that will guide policy makers to come up with informed decisions about agricultural concerns. For the first time, we have shown that it is possible to both feed a hungry world and protect a threatened planet," said lead author Jonathan Foley, head of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment. "It will take serious work. But we can do it."