How will we sustainably feed everyone in the coming decade and beyond?

“The global population will likely peak at 8 billion to 12 billion in the latter half of this century, up from 6.7 billion in 2008 (Population Reference Bureau, 2008). When global food (and related resource) consumption will crest is unknown, because the quantity of food energy consumed globally and the amount of fossil fuel energy, water, land, and soil resources used to produce these kilocalories is only partially related to the size of the global population (Imhoff et al., 2004b). The critical challenge of sustainable food production and distribution not only depends on knowing how many people live where and how fast populations are growing, but also on the quantities and types of food consumed, the cost of food, and access to food (Bayliss-Smith, 1982; Meyer and Turner, 1992). In general, as incomes rise, people consume more meat and processed foods, demand fruits and vegetables with fewer blemishes, want fresh produce in all seasons, and import foodstuffs from increasingly distant locations (e.g., Leppman, 2005). These changing food consumption preferences are straining global food production and distribution systems, leading to growing concern that these systems will not be adequate to sustainably meet rising food demands in the coming decade (e.g., Tilman et al., 2002; von Braun, 2007).” (NRC 2010, p.59)

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