The amount of food needed to feed a growing world population over the next 40 years will equal the amount produced over the last 10,000 years. This startling figure was given by Dr Jack Bobo, special adviser to US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, when he addressed food industry representatives at a seminar in UCD.
“Meeting the needs of the additional 75 million people a year, equivalent to the population of Germany, and the one billion who currently go hungry every day is a daunting challenge for farmers and the food industry in Ireland and globally.
“The use of biotechnology, including GM crops, will be very important in sustainably meeting this additional food demand,” he said.
Professor Jimmy Burke of UCD, who organised the seminar, said 30,000 field trials have been conducted in 30 countries involving 56 different GM crop varieties and there is no scientific evidence of harm to humans, animals or the environment.
Dr Bobo said the EU regulatory system for GM crops is “a terrible way to enhance consumer confidence.” While there is independent scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority, the final decision on sanctioning new GM varieties is political.
The international market in grain and soya is now dominated by GM and the EU imports €12.5 billion of these products every year for livestock feeding. With 70 GM varieties currently awaiting EU approval and a further 120 approval applications expected by 2015, he said there is real potential for severe disruption in the animal feed market in Ireland and other EU countries.
“Globally, there are now 400 million acres of biotech crops and the technology is contributing significantly to agricultural production in developing countries. In the US, we promote farmer and consumer choice. We are the world’s largest producer of organically-grown crops and of biotech crops,” he added.
Dr Bobo also said that EU agriculture is way behind the mark in international food production trends. Between 2010 and 2019, EU food production is projected to increase by 4%, compared to 40% in Brazil and 10-15% in the US.
Bottom Line: Humanity took until year 1800 to reach its first billion people. We added 1 billion people in just the past 12 years.