Although the world’s population is increasing rapidly, the executive vice president and chief technology officer of Monsanto says feeding the people of the future won’t be a problem.
Robb Fraley presented his speech “2050: Agriculture’s Role in Mitigating Global Changes” Tuesday afternoon as part of the Heuermann Lecture series.
The road to providing enough food for the 2050 population won’t be an easy feat, Fraley said. Food supply will need to double in 35 years as the population grows, with 9.5 to 10 million people expected by 2050. This will have to be done with less land and water allocated to agriculture.
The world will also face challenges in growing crops through shifts in planting zones, extreme weather increases and an expansion of insect ranges.
“We know the challenges agriculture faces from many, many perspectives,” Fraley said. “There’s probably never been a more exciting time to be in this industry.”
Fraley said he has high hopes for the future, even considering the obstacles.
“I’m not one of those who’s going to tell you that it’s all doom and gloom and we’re not going to make it,” he said.
To increase food production in upcoming years, the world will have to reduce its footprint on farming, increase crop yields, improve efficiency, reduce waste and watch its dietary habits.
In the United States alone, food yields will have to double. But, Fraley said with collaboration, “we have every opportunity to do this … we can succeed and provide food security for that growing planet.”
While the population will expand tremendously in 35 years, so will technology.
Every gain made in agricultural efficiency and productivity and all of the future innovations will simply drive productivity to the point where we can be even more prolific in the lands we farm, Fraley said.
“The reason I believe it’s possible is that there’s an absolute tidal wave of new innovation coming into agriculture.”
Some of these innovations include genetically modified crops. Fraley showed results from 147 studies over 20 years proving that the use of biotech crops decreased pesticides by 37 percent, increased yields 22 percent and profits went up 68 percent.
Other innovations include a future with drought-protected crops, apps that show farmers information such as the day’s wind speed and ever improving technology in farm equipment.
“Today’s tractor has more computational power than the first spaceships that went to the moon,” Fraley said.
His final message to the audience was to consider what they could do personally to help the world.
“I really urge you to think hard about your ability to impact the options, because today probably less than one percent of the U.S. population is involved in agriculture,” he said. “We really have the responsibility, and I think to obligation to reach out to the other 99 percent and tell our story in terms of food security.”
Rachel Noe, a junior agricultural communications major who attended the lecture, had a positive reaction from the lecture and of the future.
“I think if you look at the technology advances that have been there in the past even five years, the past 20 years, it’s pretty exciting for the future of ag,” Noe said. “It should be a targetable goal to get there.”
(Source – http://www.dailynebraskan.com/news/monsanto-head-argues-future-of-agriculture-will-solve-global-food/article_2c435f7c-e88b-11e4-817e-a76000f4131d.html)