The numbers are in and 400 scientists from over 30 countries are making the case for increased funding for research on sustainable solutions to the global food shortage. Their collective report, titled The future of food and farming: challenges and choices for global sustainability, was released yesterday in the United Kingdom.
With 9 billion people to feed by 2050, the report makes the case for significant increases in the funding of basic research, in order to develop innovative tools of nanotechnology and biotechnology to help stem the rise of food prices and stabilize supply and demand. And as the period from research to innovation and solution to implementation can often take years, the world risks finding solutions too late if such research is not funded immediately, says the report.
“There’s a very large risk of quite substantial increase of food prices over the next 30 or 40 years,” said University of Oxford zoologist, Charles Godfray.
The U.K. government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Department for International Development (DFID) are the two primary sponsors of the publication, which was compiled over the course of two years.
“It was very obvious from 2007-08 that the food supply was under stress,” said U.K. government chief scientific adviser, John Beddington. “The problem is the world has not really been linking food, water, climate change, and energy.”
The report stresses that: “The food system is not a single designed entity, but rather a partially self-organised collection of interacting parts. This is a unique time in history–decisions made now and over the next few decades will disproportionately influence the future.”