Biotechnology

Despite Climate Change, There Will Be Enough Food for 10 Billion in 2050

Food security is not the problem, but nutrition security could be.

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Time

Even in the worst-case climate scenarios, the world's farmers will be able to produce more than enough affordable calories to feed 10 billion people in the year 2050. So concludes a team led by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign agronomist Gerald Nelson, whose study appeared recently in Nature Sustainability; Nelson has summarized the results in an op-ed for The Washington Post.

While that's excellent news, Nelson and his colleagues are worried that a diet rich in carbohydrate calories from abundant wheat, rice, corn, sorghum, and potatoes will be deficient in vital micronutrients needed to maintain health. "Micronutrient shortages such as Vitamin A deficiency are already causing blindness in somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 children a year and killing half of them within 12 months of them losing their sight," notes Nelson. "Dietary shortages of iron, zinc, iodine and folate all have devastating health effects."

Nelson argues that crop breeders need to shift their research emphasis from food security to nutrition security. "A major effort must be made to increase the productivity—the yield per hectare—of nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans," he urges. "By enhancing their productivity, we'll make them more available and affordable."

Certainly that would help. But an additional strategy would be to use modern biotechnology to enhance the nutritional value of such staple crops as wheat, rice, corn, sorghum, and potatoes. This is exactly what Swiss researchers have sought to do by developing golden rice, which boosts the amount of the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene in that grain. Unfortunately, fearmongering anti-biotech ideologues have for nearly two decades managed to block the commercial development of golden rice, thus condemning hundreds of thousands of children in poor countries to blindness and death each year.

Other biofortification researchers have used biotech to create rice that boosted folate in that grain by 150-fold; folate in lettuce by 15-fold; folate in beans by 84-fold. Crop breeders have used biotech to create rice varieties with higher iron and zinc content. Tomatoes, carrots, and lettuce varieties have been bioengineered to increase iodine levels.

Activists who continue to oppose the deployment of crops created by safe modern biotechnology will only exacerbate the challenges posed by the climate change they claim to worry about.

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32 responses to “Despite Climate Change, There Will Be Enough Food for 10 Billion in 2050

  1. Lets assume for a moment that AGW is not nonsense. A big assumption no doubt. A warmer, wetter and greener world is going to feed more people. The idea that global warming is going to cause starvation is absurd on its face. A warmer planet is more hospital to life not less.

    1. Yes, but the argument is that at the rate the climate is changing due to human-induced activity, it will be disruptive to ecosystems which won’t be able to adapt quickly enough, leading to crop and food disruption. An area that used to grow X well can no longer grow X as well, or at all, leading to starvation for the population that depended on X.

      And it’s all going to happen *checks notes on life expectancy* ~2050-2100.

      1. Yes, but the argument is that at the rate the climate is changing due to human-induced activity, it will be disruptive to ecosystems which won’t be able to adapt quickly enough, leading to crop and food disruption. An area that used to grow X well can no longer grow X as well, or at all, leading to starvation for the population that depended on X.

        Not saying you believe it, but this is only true if you make some patently absurd assumptions about farming. If you went back to 1900 and said that 120 yrs. into the future people would drink the milk of almonds and the majority of it would be produced in the deserts of S. California, people would rightfully think you were bonkers. Not-so-ironically, the ‘buy local’ movement both exacerbates and disproportionately suffers the situation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be solving itself fast enough.

      2. Even with that interpretation, Diane, the argument fails. No matter how fast the climate is changing, farmers can change faster. Consider that even the worst case assumptions for climate change represent average differentials that are less than the average climate differences created by moving a few hundred miles north.

        So Nebraska farmers might have to start preferring crops and farming techniques currently popular in Kansas. And that’s the worst case scenario.

    2. Let’s see. Warmer weather, more rain, more CO2. Yeah, sounds like really terrible conditions for plant (fruits, grains vegetables) growth. We’re doomed!

    3. that’s a nice bit of wild speculation

  2. The Left pushes an agenda more than actually caring about anything…
    https://aladyofreason.wordpress.com/

  3. I’m sorry, but if by 2050 we aren’t all eating a single pill that fulfills all of our dietary needs while turning into a full pizza when we add water then I don’t really care what scientists think because they’ve already dropped the ball.

      1. Apparently, in the distant future, we all still press buttons like common apes.

      2. Excellent video. Too bad that the enviro whackos are unable to watch it and Tell us why the message is wrong.

    1. Other biofortification researchers have used biotech to create rice that boosted folate in that grain by 150-fold; folate in lettuce by 15-fold; folate in beans by 84-fold.

      Through the magic of genetic engineering scientists have engineered your average grain of rice to be nearly as nutritious as your average lentil and your average leaf of lettuce to be nearly as nutritious as your average leaf of spinach.

      You’ll get your pill that fulfills all of your dietary needs simply by adding water but, by that time, the AGW movement will have permeated all aspects of science and all the food pills will make tofu for everyone’s own good.

    2. i’m sorry, but if by 2050 scientists haven’t figured out a way to turn us all into scientists by eating a single pill then this pizza pill better be a thing.

  4. Monsanto killed my family!!

  5. AGW alarmists don’t care about being able to feed people. Sure, they use non-white people who might suffer as political props, but at the same time they advocate fighting climate change with mass genocide.

    It’s the non-people that they care about.

    1. all those non-people living on small islands and coastal cities

  6. Maybe because of the slight warming experienced over the past century and not despite it? Or at least it helped.

  7. >>>thus condemning hundreds of thousands of children in poor countries to blindness and death each year.

    because no rice?

    1. Because no source of Vitamin A in their diet.

      1. well yeah but the article asserts blocking commercial development = death to millions

  8. “Micronutrient shortages such as Vitamin A deficiency are already causing blindness in somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 children a year and killing half of them within 12 months of them losing their sight,”

    Well then – its a good thing that advanced bioengineering techniques are allowing us to build in the capability to provide those very same micronutrients right in to the staple foods that will be so abundant.

    Imagine if we were left with only the older forms of bioengineering – exposure to mutagens like radiation and harsh chemicals and then hoping for the best. We wouldn’t be near able to tackle the nutritional deficiencies that have existed for several tens of thousands of years already.

    1. Deciding to abandon our hunter-gatherer society was the worst mistake we ever made.

      The idea the decision to abandon our hunter-gatherer lifestyle was a terrible misstep isn’t some crazy hippy notion either, but one supported by academics like James C. Scott, Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jeth?, and Jared Diamond, the latter of whom famously called the decision to abandon hunter-gatherer societies the “worst mistake in the history of the human race.”

      I’d like to talk to the member of that committee.

  9. Unfortunately, fearmongering anti-biotech ideologues have for nearly two decades managed to block the commercial development of golden rice, thus condemning hundreds of thousands of children in poor countries to blindness and death each year.

    While hosting lavish $1000 a plate dinners to fund their campaign against the evils of bioengineering.

  10. There is no justice from SJW ecowarriors until the luddites who hold back Golden Rice are indicted for crimes against humanity. Their scale may be less than Hitler or Stalin or Mao, but their ruthless cold-bloodedness outshines them all.

    1. That sounds about right. Make them live on a third world diet for a month, and they’d still be convinced they’re right.

  11. I believe I can speak for all when I say climate change is real, and we need to redistribute the wealth from the evil rich to combat this looming disaster.
    After all, these are the same people who were prudent enough to see the coming of global cooling, the oil crisis, the population bomb and global warming.
    Money solves all problems as we know, and if we give all our money to these scientists and ruling elites, then they will conquer climate change, and we will all live happily every after.
    Let us remember, spending billions of dollars eliminated poverty in the America, ended racial discord, ensured our children were the best and brightest in the world, and cured cancer.
    So let us all give all our money to the powers that be so we can live in a climate that never changes.

  12. Global warming is total bullshit and anyone who believes in it is a gullible fool. In the 1970s it was global freezing, which of course, also turned out to be total bullshit.

    Consider this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYhCQv5tNsQ

    And wise up before you ignorantly contribute to the destruction of what is still a moderately sane world, but one that is nevertheless getting crazier by the day.

    1. You know who else went crazier by the day?

  13. Missed point here is that there’s no reason in hell to HAVE 10 billion stupid, mouth-breathing people. We should be aiming to cut the human population to about 1/4 what it is now.

    1. Should the governments of the world enforce that, or are you for voluntary compliance?

  14. The Left cares more for their agenda then the planet though…

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