Is it possible to feeding a world population that’s projected to exceed 10 billion people by 2050? The challenges food producers face to meet this increasing demand are numerous, says Dr. Robert Fraley, Monsanto executive vice president and chief technology officer.
With less land, less water and growing concerns about global warming, Fraley says it will take collaboration to sustainably intensifying agriculture on arable land, take pressure off of marginal land and reduce food waste to accomplish the task of feeding a growing planet.
Speaking at the 23rd Annual Cattlemen’s College, sponsored by Zoetis and held in conjunction with the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show in San Diego, Calif., Fraley shares these 10 important points about feeding the world and GMOs:
- By 2050, the world population will exceed 10 billion people, and these folks are going to need to eat. “It’s not about us; it’s about our kids and grandkids when it comes to food security around the world,” says Fraley.
- “In order to meet increased demand for U.S. beef, we will need the production capacity (of corn) of another Illinois,” he says. “In 2015, we produced 2.0 billion bushels of corn, but by 2050, we’ll need 2.8 billion bushels of corn to raise enough beef to meet the growing demand.”
- What are some of the greatest advancements in food technology? Fraley says the biggest achievement is how dramatically breeding has improved. Agriculture can now improve plants and animals gene-by-gene.
- “Today there are 30 countries around the world raising GMO crops, which has helped raise yields by reducing weed and insect pressure,” he says. “We’ve probably grown 4.4 billion acres of GMO crops since 1996. What’s more, GMO crops are grown on one-quarter of the world’s farm land.”
- “GMOs are the most thoroughly studied food products ever,” Fraley says. Despite the public outcry of the dangers of GMOs, “they offer huge benefits with improved yields, reducing the needs for pesticides and insecticides. And it’s important to note that there hasn’t been a single incident of a food safety issue from GMOs.”
- For folks who think GMOS aren’t natural, think about this: “The human genome has been carefully studied by scientists, and all people contain between 100-200 genes from other species,” says Fraley. “It turns out that GMOs are pretty natural.”
- Did you know that there are 50 billion microbes in 1 tablespoon of soil? “A soil fungus or bacterium grows on the roots and makes nutrients such as phosphate or nitrogen available for plant use,” explains Fraley. “Yield increases are possible due to superior nutrient uptakes in the plant’s early-life stage.”
- “Everything we eat today was adapted and modified from foods around the world to grow in the U.S.,” adds Fraley.
- “We need to work to bridge the gap between science and society,” he says. “About 37% of the public thinks GMOs are safe, but almost 97% of AAAS scientists believe GMOs are safe. Meanwhile, 28% of consumers believe its safe to eat foods grown with pesticides, while 68% of AAAS scientists believe they are safe.”
- “In everything Monsanto has been focused on, we just haven’t taken the time to reach out to our consumers,” Fraley concludes. “We need to listen. We need to engage. We need to communicate in the way the public wants to get the information.”
For more information on this topic or to join the discussion on GMOs, follow @RobbFraley on Twitter. Learn more about how Monsanto is reducing the footprint of global ag production through better harvests; protecting the footprint of global ag from increasing threats; and delivering continuous improvements to global ag production here.
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