Putting food in the world’s mouths has always been difficult, and doing it sustainably is only going to get harder
The need to produce more food with minimal environmental impact has never been more pressing or more challenging. By 2050, the world’s population is expected to grow to 9.1 billion, a 34% increase over the current figure. Crop yields are increasing at about 1.8% a year for grain farmers globally, but climate change is holding back that increase by about 2.5% each decade, according to a December 2015 report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The task of feeding those additional people is complicated by changing dietary patterns, water scarcity, declining soil quality, energy price fluctuation and the unpredictability of climate change. “We need an intensification of sustainability,” says Daniel Rosario, European Commission spokesperson for agriculture and rural development. “There is a danger that some farm businesses expand too rapidly and unsustainably.”
Corporations are also eyeing their supply chains in an effort to keep less sustainable foods out of their products and off store shelves. “More companies are setting goals and that is going to continue to grow,” says Suzy Friedman, agriculture sustainability director for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). “They are making goals as to how to reduce their footprint and make themselves more resilient to climate change. Companies...