World Food Day: Europe’s agricultural productivity must increase to meet growing global demand

EuropaBio Agricultural Biotechnology

Brussels, 17 October 2011

European agricultural productivity has increased by less than 1per cent in the past year, yet world demand is growing by at least 3-4 per cent each year, and it is predicted to increase by 70% by 2050. Europe currently utilises over 30 million hectares – the size of Germany – outside its borders to meet its own needs, which some academics have called a ‘virtual land grab.’

In light of World Food Day yesterday and the ongoing food security discussion this week in Rome, the EU must recognise its responsibility to increase its production and provide more food not only for its own citizens but for people around the world. With the global population due to reach 7 billion by the end of this month and nearly 1 billion people going hungry, EuropaBio calls on the European Union (EU) to re-consider the importance of increasing Europe’s agricultural productivity sustainably.

Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, Director of Green Biotechnology Europe, commented, “There is a certain hubris in the fact that the EU relies on other countries to supply it with food, feed, fibre and fuel. The EU has ignored its responsibility to produce more for far too long. Policymakers need to put policies in place that allow farmers to increase their productivity and competitiveness. The recent CAP proposal, despite many strong elements, requires farmers to leave 7 per cent of their land fallow. Already today, with 100% of their land, farmers must produce more. With 7 per cent less arable land, European farmers will need access to every possible tool to increase agricultural productivity – including biotech crops – or the EU will miss its opportunity to help itself and others.”


Fast Facts

  • Global demand for food is predicted to increase by 70% by 2050.
  • The EU relies on over 30 million hectares outside its borders to meet its populations’ needs for food, feed, fuel and fibre.
  • GM crops have shown to increase yield by 6%-30%. 
  • Farmers in the EU currently have limited or no access to GM crops. Yet over 15 million farmers worldwide grow GM crops, and 9 in 10 farmers who choose GM are smallscale farmers in developing countries.


Additional Resources

FAO: World Food Day

10 Things to Know About Food on World Food Day, Huffington Post, 2013

Committee on World Food Security (CFS), 37th Session, Rome, 17 - 22 October 2011

FAO World Hunger Report 2011: High, volatile prices set to continue – Heads of Rome-based UN food agencies call for forceful action

No easy fix: Simply using more of everything to produce more food will not work. The Economist Special Report on Feeding the World, February 2011.

Reaping the benefits: Science and the sustainable intensification of global agriculture. The Royal Society, 2009.

Harald von Witzke and Stefan Noleppa, “EU agricultural production and trade : Can more efficiency prevent increasing ‘land grabbing’ outside of Europe?”, 2010.


For further information, please contact:

Carel du Marchie Sarvaas
Director, Green Biotechnology Europe
Tel: +32 2 739 11 85
Mobile: +32 473 890 359
Web site:
Twitter: @EuropaBio and @SeedFeedFood

Molly Hurley-Dépret
Communications Officer, Green Biotechnology Europe
Tel: +32 2 739 11 62
Mobile: +32 473 334 875
Web site:
Twitter: @EuropaBio and @SeedFeedFood


About EuropaBio

EuropaBio's mission is to promote an innovative and dynamic biotechnology based industry in Europe. EuropaBio, (the European Association for Bioindustries), has 66 corporate and 7 associate members operating worldwide, 4 Bioregions and 22 national biotechnology associations representing some 1800 small and medium sized enterprises.

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