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Feeding a growing human population without increasing stresses on Earth's strained land and water resources may seem like an impossible challenge. But according to a new report by researchers at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, focusing efforts to improve food systems on a few specific regions, crops and actions could make it possible to both meet the basic needs of 3 billion more people and decrease agriculture's environmental footprint.
The report, published today in Science, focuses on 17 key crops that produce 86 percent of the world's crop calories and account for most irrigation and fertilizer consumption on a global scale. It proposes a set of key actions in three broad areas that that have the greatest potential for reducing the adverse environmental impacts of agriculture and boosting our ability meet global food needs. For each, it identifies specific "leverage points" where nongovernmental organizations, foundations, governments, businesses and citizens can target food-security efforts for the greatest impact. The biggest opportunities cluster in six countries -- China, India, U.S., Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan -- along with Europe.
"This paper represents an important next step beyond previous studies that have broadly outlined strategies for sustainably feeding people," said lead author Paul West, co-director of the Institute on the Environment's Global Landscapes Initiative. "By pointing out specifically what we can do and where, it gives funders and policy makers the information they need to target their activities for the greatest good."
The major areas of opportunity and key leverage points for improving the efficiency and sustainability of global food production are:
1. Produce more food on existing land. Previous research has detected the presence of a dramatic agricultural "yield gap" -- difference between potential and actual crop yield -- in many parts of the world. This study found that closing even 50 percent of the gap in regions with the widest gaps could provide enough calories to feed 850 million people. Nearly half of the potential gains are in Africa, with most of the rest represented by Asia and Eastern Europe.
2. Grow crops more efficiently. The study identified where major opportunities exist to reduce climate impacts and improve the efficiency with which we use nutrients and water to grow crops.
3. Use crops more efficiently. The third major category of opportunities characterized for boosting food production and environmental protection relate to making more crop calories available for human consumption by shifting crops from livestock to humans and reducing food waste
originally posted by: Psynic
a reply to: knoledgeispower
The Pacific Ocean is the largest single source of food on the planet, and it's dying.
Canada's west coast sardine fishery was cancelled this year due to the fact they didn't find a SINGLE sardine.
The Atlantic is not far behind.
ALL species of marine life are experiencing huge die-offs except perhaps jellyfish.
But have no fear, TPTB have a plan to feed every living human being.
originally posted by: stormcell
The problem with Africa is that you either have millions of Africans living on subsistence farming, just living from day to day growing their own food, or you evict them all and use the land using modern agricultural techniques.
Farmland in the USA and Europe has been taken out of production either as part of set-aside projects, or to grow bio-fuels. There wouldn't be a food shortage if this land were put back to use for food production.