Back on October 16, we recognized World Food Day noting that 870 million people in this world go to bed hungry each and every night. That represents 1 in 8 people globally. As bad as that is, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization noted this was an improvement from the 1 billion that went to bed hungry in 1992. This improvement occurred because investments have been made to increase the productivity of the food production and distribution system. We also celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act of 1862, which established the land grant college system in the U.S. These colleges provide most of the basic science needed to expand our food production and improve our distribution system to get it in the right places. The Green Revolution, led by the famed scientist Norman Borlaug from the 1940s through the 1970s, is credited with expanding food production through innovation and science.
Farming took another leap forward with the technology to genetically engineer organisms to have traits more desirable to producers and consumers. Despite some of the bad publicity given this new technology, it has increased productivity of our production system and helped in controlling pests and diseases more efficiently. It also has been used to introduce traits like Vitamin A-enhanced yellow rice that provides better nutrition to developing countries who consume rice as a staple in their diets. It also has allowed us to identify and introduce traits consumers find more desirable like the improved tomato varieties that are being introduced.
Global population currently stands at 6.8 billion people and is expected to grow to 8.2 billion by 2050, an increase of more than 20%. With 1 in 8 now going hungry, it is reasonable to wonder how we can feed this burgeoning population. There will be stress put on resources used to produce this food. Global warming is in part blamed on the clearing of lands for production agriculture that deposits more carbon in our atmosphere. Science and technology has a role to play in managing these resources and developing sustainable practices that mitigate these impacts. One way to control this burden is to keep our existing agriculture sustainable and profitable, getting the most we can out of the land currently devoted to production agriculture. Food security in the world is dependent on dedication to becoming more productive with the resources we have. The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing when all people at all times have access to safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life. This requires having sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis, having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet, and appropriate use based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care.
Appetite For Aspiration
Agriculture in America has the basic resources to respond to these challenges. The fruit and vegetable industry will play an important role in this challenge to feed the world. Development of resources throughout the world will be required to meet this challenge, but equally important is providing the resources that will help our existing growers respond as they always have in meeting the global needs for food. This challenge will require an investment in science and technology. This will require new technologies that will allow us to improve our productivity with the existing agricultural base we have and facilitate their success for the future. This provides a challenging opportunity to our growers and it will require the recognition of policymakers at the local, regional, state, national, and global levels to help meet this challenge. We must give our growers an opportunity to succeed. The alternative is simply not credible.