June 7, 2011

Innovations Not Enough To Solve Food Shortage Problems

According to a report issued on Tuesday by DuPont, high-tech seeds and innovations in chemicals and farming will not be enough to solve growing food shortages.

The report urged that billions of dollars in private investment, government incentives and charitable work must be funneled into collaborative projects if global food production is to match growing demand.

The report by the Dupont Advisory Committee on Agricultural Innovation & Productivity for the 21st Century said both biotech and organic farming will play a role.

"People are starting to recognize that food demand is outstripping supply," said DuPont executive vice president Jim Borel, who oversees DuPont's agriculture and nutrition business.

"If the world doesn't figure out how to effectively deal with this challenge, then the results are ugly," he said in the report. "It is becoming clear... that society has to figure out ways to work together differently than we ever have."

World economic and agricultural leaders projected the world's population will surpass 9 billion by 2050, and 10 billion by the turn of the century.  They forecast that global food production must jump 70 percent or more to meet demand.

Global grain stocks are currently at historically low levels, sparking high prices for corn, wheat, soy and other crops.

The report said lagging public policy support for increased food production, outdated and ineffective infrastructure, and a lack of cohesive efforts by public and private players were among the hurdles to increasing food production.

Africa and south and southeast Asia were seen as areas in dire need of cohesive development efforts.

"There is nothing easy about what we have to do," former Senator Tom Daschle, who chaired the committee, said in a statement. "This is one of the greatest challenges facing the human race."

He said billions of dollars have to be spent to achieve nutritious and adequate food supplies for the world's population.

"It is going to take tremendous financing if this is going to happen. If we don't do this collectively and in a collaborative way, then we are going to fail," Daschle said.

The report included a call for increased long-term corporate investments in emerging markets to help create jobs and raise incomes and improve education and youth development. 

The committee said governments need to adopt regulations for plant biotechnology, such as the genetically altered corn seed developed by DuPont and other seed companies.

According to the report, investments are also needed for roads and bridges, as well as storage and processing facilities.

The report cited subsidies and trade distortions as problems that have distorted the international food and agricultural system.

"We are grateful for the hard work and perspective of the committee. DuPont is ready to take action to help implement the recommendations," DuPont Executive Vice President James C. Borel said in a statement. "If we work together and listen to farmers of all disciplines, we can tackle this challenge. Together we can do what no one can do alone."


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