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The Science in Our Food
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Increased demand for food due to population and income growth, and the impacts of climate change on agriculture will ratchet up the pressure for increased and more sustainable agricultural production to feed the planet.
Compared to 2005, consumer demand in 2050 is estimated to drive farmers to produce:
In its new report, Food Security in a World of Growing Natural Resource Scarcity: The Role of Agricultural Technologies, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) examines how 11 agricultural practices and technologies could help farmers around the world improve the sustainability of agriculture. In particular, the study demonstrates how different approaches can enable farmers to improve crop yields while also taking into account anticipated climate changes such as higher temperatures and the increasing scarcity of water and farmland.
Additionally, IFPRI’s study highlights how the tailored use of agricultural technologies and practices could reduce the number of people at risk of hunger and deliver greater environmental benefits by 2050.
Findings from the book indicate:
The anticipated negative effects of climate change on agricultural productivity as well as projected population growth by 2050, suggest that food insecurity and food prices will increase. For example, climate change could decrease maize yields by as much as 18 percent by 2050–making it even more difficult to feed the world if farmers cannot adopt agricultural technologies that could help boost food production in their regions.
“One of the most significant barriers to global food security is the high cost of food in developing countries,” Rosegrant explained. “Agricultural technologies used in combinations tailored to the crops grown and regional differences could make more food more affordable – especially for those at risk of hunger and malnutrition in developing countries.”
The Danforth Center is adapting new technologies to further strengthen imaging and robotics capabilities that accelerate the pace of scientific discovery and agricultural productivity with the new Bellwether Foundation Phenotyping Facility. The one-of-a-kind facility automates continuous plant imaging and provides accurate control over experimental conditions.
The Danforth Center is expanding in the areas of genomic, computational and high-throughput science to discover how plants grow and develop in changing environments, respond to stress and produce energy-rich molecules. The Center’s programs look into how plants defend against disease and drought, how solar energy is captured and converted to chemical energy, and how plant genomes evolve.
A good example of Danforth Center discovery-to-impact involves understanding how Setaria, a model for bioenergy grasses and small grain crops, withstands drought and crowded growth conditions. A $12.1 million project, funded by the Department of Energy in 2012, is exploring the natural variation and genetics of how Setaria responds to critical environmental factors. The project involves multiple Danforth Center investigators and five collaborating institutions. Knowledge gained from research using Setaria will accelerate breeding efforts in bioenergy and food crops.
These types of projects allow the Center to continue to achieve its mission, to improve the human condition through plant science.
Click here for more information on the report. View the Advancements in Global Agriculture infographic here.
| PhenotypingInternational Food Policy Research InstituteimpactEnergydroughtDiscovery