- Feeding 10 billion people by 2050 is a huge
- Analysis of data on environmental parameters as
well as modeling for tracking global food production and consumption was
carried out in the study
- Feeding 10 billion people by 2050 could be possible
by switching to a plant-based diet globally
- Changes in agricultural practices, proper water
management, and reducing food wastage would help to reach the goal
Feeding 10 billion
people by 2050 may seem to be an impossible task; but not so, as a recent study
suggests. The study, published in the journal Nature
, indicates that if
there could be a shift at the global level to a healthy, plant-based diet,
coupled with reduction of food wastage (equivalent to USD 165 billion annually
in US alone) by half and use of improved farming practices, then it may be
possible to achieve this goal.
these strategies would appreciably reduce the risk of exceeding the planetary
limits of resources currently available.
Moreover, this could help limit
environmental factors, such as climate change, agricultural land usage, finding
freshwater resources, and pollution of various ecosystems.
Details of the Study
This is the first
study that provides solid evidence on the effect of food production and food
consumption on the planetary limits of vital resources, beyond which these
could become unstable at the global level. This could have catastrophic
consequences on the survival of humans on Earth.
‘Feeding 10 billion people by 2050 may indeed be possible. Switching to a plant-based diet could reduce greenhouse gases. Optimization of agricultural practices, coupled with global efforts to reduce food wastage will help to reach the goal.’
Springmann, Oxford Martin Program on the Future of Food and the Nuffield
Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, and the Principal
Investigator of the study, says: "No single solution is enough to avoid
crossing planetary boundaries. But when the solutions are implemented together,
our research indicates that it may be possible to feed the growing population
Dr. Springmann goes
on to say: "Without concerted action, we found that the environmental impacts
of the food system could increase by 50-90% by 2050 as a result of population
growth and the rise of diets high in fats
, sugars and meat. In that case, all
planetary boundaries related to food production would be surpassed, some of
them by more than two-fold."
The study utilized
data on various environmental parameters along with a model for tracking food
production and consumption across the globe. This modeling study helped the
researchers to analyze several factors that could help to keep planetary food
resources within acceptable limits.
Major Research Findings
found three possible ways by which the goal of keeping global food resources
within planetary limits:
Changes: It may be surprising, but dietary changes could actually help
control climate change. The study found that by switching to a plant-based
diet, could reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by half. Additionally,
it could reduce other factors that have an impact on the environment, such
as the use of fertilizers, farmland, and freshwater by up to a quarter.
Agricultural Practices: Use of technology and proper management of resources
in agriculture could reduce the pressure on farmland, freshwater
extraction, and fertilizer use. Increasing crop yield from existing
farmland, reducing fertilizer application and encouraging recycling,
judicious use of freshwater, along with other approaches, could reduce the
negative impact on agriculture by half.
Food Wastage: Food loss and food wastage need to be halved in order to
keep food resources within environmental limits. This can reduce the
environmental impact by a sixth. However, this needs to be done at a
indicates that although many of the study findings are being implemented in
some parts of the world, much more concerted global efforts are required in
order to make a real impact.
Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and co-author of the
study feels that technological improvements in agriculture
will involve more sustained investments for developing infrastructure, as well
as providing appropriate incentives to the farmers.
This will encourage
the farmers to use fertilizers sparingly as well as implement water management
Fabrice de Clerck,
Director of Science at EAT is of the opinion that reduction of food loss and
food wastage will require improvements across the food-chain, from production
to transportation, packaging and labeling, as well as changes in legislation.
adds: "When it comes to diets, comprehensive policy and business approaches are
essential to make dietary changes towards healthy and more plant-based diets
possible and attractive for a large number of people. Important
aspects include school and workplace programs, economic incentives and
labeling, and aligning national dietary guidelines with the current scientific
evidence on healthy eating and the environmental impacts of our diet.
The study was
funded by EAT, which forms a part of the EAT-Lancet Commission for Food, Planet
and Health. Funds were also provided by the Wellcome Trust's "Our Planet, Our
Health" partnership on Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP). References :
- Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits - (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0594-0)
- 14 surprising stats about global food consumption - (https://www.one.org/us/2014/11/12/14-surprising-stats-about-global-food-consumption/)