Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Will Feed The World

SPECIAL REPORT-The fight over the future of food
Mon Nov 9, 2009 8:24pm EST
By Claudia Parsons, Russell Blinch and Svetlana Kovalyova

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON/MILAN, Nov 10 (Reuters) - At first glance, Giuseppe Oglio's farm near Milan looks like it's suffering from neglect. Weeds run rampant amid the rice fields and clover grows unchecked around his millet crop.

Oglio, a third generation farmer eschews modern farming techniques -- chemicals, fertilizers, heavy machinery -- in favor of a purely natural approach. It is not just ecological, he says, but profitable, and he believes his system can be replicated in starving regions of the globe.

Nearly 5,000 miles (8,000 km) away, in laboratories in St. Louis, Missouri, hundreds of scientists at the world's biggest seed company, Monsanto, also want to feed the world, only their tools of choice are laser beams and petri dishes.

Monsanto, a leader in agricultural biotechnology, spends about $2 million a day on scientific research that aims to improve on Mother Nature, and is positioning itself as a key player in the fight against hunger.

The Italian farmer and the U.S. multinational represent the two extremes in an increasingly acrimonious debate over the future of food.

Everybody wants to end hunger, but just how to do so is a divisive question that pits environmentalists against anti-poverty campaigners, big business against consumers and rich countries against poor.

The food fight takes place at a time when experts on both sides agree on one thing -- the number of empty bellies around the world will only grow unless there is major intervention now.

A combination of the food crisis and the global economic downturn has catapulted the number of hungry people in the world to more than 1 billion. The United Nations says world food output must grow by 70 percent over the next four decades to feed a projected extra 2.3 billion people by 2050. Read More

It’s nice to see a somewhat balanced article in the media these days. I thought Reuters did a pretty good job here of just reporting the situation and letting their readers decide how they feel about the issue. What a novel concept for a large media company! Here is what we know for sure about this issue, we need to grow a lot more food in the future. The question is how do we get there. Some people think we need to use farming techniques from a century ago regardless of the amount of food produced. Others believe that the answers lie in using technology to grow enough food for everyone, i.e. another green revolution. ~TH

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the problem is setting up that dichotomy--using technology a la Monsanto or using organic techniques a la the Italian farmer mentioned in the article.

I think the truth is somewhere in between. Most "organic" or "sustainable" farmers that I know are not against technology per se--they are against technologies that threaten their ability to save seed and produce a crop free of chemicals and GMOs.

The answer to the question of how the world's people will feed themselves will have an immense variety of different answers--and the use of technology may not just be related to that technology which large corporations own the patents to.

Thanks for blogging.