Ariel Schwartz, July 9— It’s familiar refrain–one issued by institutions as reputable as the World Health Organization (WHO): there’s enough food to feed everyone in the world, but it’s just not evenly distributed.
That may be true. For now. But according to a study in the journal PLOS ONE, there won’t be enough food for everyone by 2050, no matter how we divvy it up.
In order to feed a world of 9.6 billion people (the projected population) 37 years down the line, farmers today would have to make significant changes, devoting less land to biofuels and dramatically boosting crop yields. In fact, crop yields are rising (at a rate of 1.6% and 1.3% per year for maize and soybean in an optimistic scenario), but it’s not enough.
Here are the researchers’ predictions, based on approximately 2.5 million agricultural statistics.
The solid lines are projections based on today’s yield per acre growth. The dashed lines show the 2% to 4% improvement in yield that would have to happen every year in order to meet rising demand–doubling crop production by 2050 without clearing extra land for food (forest destruction is a significant contributor to climate change).