Can a Growing World Feed Itself Without Genetically Modified Crops?


Big Questions Online

By Sir Brian Heap

Published 21 May 2013

Global agriculture produces enough to feed everyone if we take 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day as the intake that would satisfy most of us who lead a moderately active lifestyle. Yet there are still 925 million people who are undernourished, or about 13 percent of today’s world population, and nearly all live in less developed countries.1,2 The Global Hunger Index3 has fallen from 19.7 in 1990 to 14.7 in 2012 (less than 4.9 is low hunger; 5-9.9 moderate; 10-19.9 serious; 20-29.9 alarming; and more than 30 is considered extremely alarming), but some countries are in the "alarming" or "extremely alarming" categories (19) and urgent action is called for in Burundi, Eritrea and Haiti.

The long term effects of malnutrition cause one in three children to have stunted growth with the risks of learning disabilities, mental retardation, poor health, and chronic diseases in later life. Hunger can lead to even greater hunger because of an inability to work and learn.2 Population pressure is an underlying factor because it can lead to the collapse, or nearly so, of individual societies. 4,5Capability-deprivation is another because it is not only a question of how people actually function that matters but their capability to function in important ways, if they so wish.6 Food price volatility is a further concern due to market uncertainties, whether driven by speculative future trading of agricultural commodities or the demands of renewable fuels for land.

The full article is available here.