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Crop Biotech Update

Penn State Research Challenges Widely Accepted Vision for Agriculture, Says it may be Inaccurate, Misleading

March 1, 2017

It has been repeated in recent years that food production must double by 2050 to feed the world's growing population. This truism has become widely accepted among academics, policy makers and farmers, but now researchers are challenging this assertion and suggesting a new vision for the future of agriculture.

A new study conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) suggests that production likely will need to increase between 25 percent and 70 percent to meet 2050 food demand. According to Mitchell C. Hunter, doctoral student in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, the previous assertion to double global crop and animal production by 2050 is not supported by data. Hunter said that in the coming decades, agriculture will not only feed people, but must also ensure a healthy environment. "To get the agriculture we want in 2050, we need quantitative targets for both food production and environmental impacts," he said. Study co-author David Mortensen said, "Food production and environmental protection must be treated as equal parts of agriculture's grand challenge."

The results of this study are presented in a paper, Agriculture in 2050: Recalibrating Targets for Sustainable Intensification published in Bioscience. For more details, read the article in Penn State News.