By Gonzalo Vina
Global food supplies may not be enough to feed an expanding population and resources are being consumed more quickly than they are being replenished, a study commissioned by the British government said.
Chief Scientific Adviser John Beddington said halving the amount of food waste by 2050 could boost today’s annual production by a quarter while lowering trade barriers for poor countries would help minimize future price shocks.
“Urgent change is required throughout the food system to bring sustainability center stage and end hunger,” Beddington said in a statement in London today. “It is also vital for other areas, such as climate change mitigation, conflict, and economic growth.”
The report said efforts to end hunger in the poorest parts of the world are “stalling” and prices may rise “substantially over the next 40 years” unless governments and producers take action. A billion people today are going hungry while another billion people are over-consuming.
Beddington said the sustainability of food production also needs to improve so that water and energy are used more efficiently. Steps to mitigate climate change are also needed to prevent food supplies being too small to feed a projected 9 billion people by 2050.
“We need a global, integrated approach to food security, one that looks beyond the food system to the inseparable goals of reducing poverty, tackling climate change and reducing biodiversity loss,” Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said in a statement.
The report is based on findings of a two-year investigation in which 400 experts from about 35 countries were consulted.