Friday, September 11, 2009

Innovation & Technology Helping To Feed The World

White Paper Examines Role of Agricultural Innovations in Meeting World Food Crisis

Thu Sep 10, 2009 1:06pm EDT
Agricultural Innovations Can Ensure Affordability, Supply, Safety and Sustainability

GREENFIELD, Ind.--(Business Wire)— Does agriculture need technology to help meet the growing worldwide demand for safe, nutritious and affordable food? The answer is a resounding "yes," according to Jeff Simmons, author of a white paper titled "Technology's Role in the 21st Century: Food Economics and Consumer Choice." In his paper, Simmons provides a comprehensive review of the growing challenge of feeding the world's population, including both historical data and projections that underscore the absolute necessity for new and existing technologies in food production.

"Already, an estimated 963 million people do not have enough to eat, and by 2050, we will need to produce 100 percent more food than we do now," says Simmons. "We can't achieve that by merely adding farmland or increasing crop intensity. But, we can use technology-such as advances in nutrition, disease and pest control, and livestock management-to increase productivity. Having said that, it's imperative that we use only those innovations that have a neutral or positive effect on the environment; to do otherwise is to sacrifice our long-term survival in favor of short-term gains."

Simmons concludes that technology is an important key to meeting the global demand for food and consumer choice for three reasons. First, technology enables food producers to provide more high-quality grains and protein sources using fewer resources. For example, a combination of best-management feeding practices and efficiency-enhancing feed ingredients enables today's cattle growers to use two-thirds less land to produce a pound of beef than it takes to produce a pound of beef from "all-natural," grass-fed cattle.

Second, technological innovation can help keep food affordable while ensuring maximum consumer choice - especially in developing nations. While some countries' well-designed organic systems can provide better yields and profits than traditional systems, on a global scale, organic foods come with a premium that many consumers can't afford.

Finally, technology can help minimize the global environmental impact of increased food production. For instance, modern beef-production techniques actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions per pound of beef by 38 percent compared with "all-natural" production methods, according to a 2007 study by the Hudson Institute. Moreover, technologies such as livestock feed ingredients can help significantly reduce animal waste production that threaten vital water resources, particularly in developing nations where modern pollution-control standards are not in use. Read More

Most of our consumers don’t realize the huge gains in efficiency that agriculture has made over the last 100 years. We are producing incredible amounts of food with a fraction of the inputs. It’s trendy today to blast conventional agriculture and make wild claims about how it’s not sustainable but the reality is much different. Because of the accomplishments we’ve made in increasing our food production capabilities, America enjoys the safest, most affordable food supply.

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