World Water Day 2012: ‘Water and food security’ - Why we must produce more food with less water
Brussels, 22 March 2012
“The world is thirsty because we are hungry,” notes the United Nations on World Water Day. The world’s population reached 7 billion in 2011, and it is predicted to rise to at least 9 billion by 2050. More people living on our planet will require a more efficient use of dwindling natural resources, particularly water. EuropaBio underlines that agricultural biotechnology can help address the challenge of food security and water efficiency, also through the development of drought-resistant crops and other benefits, such as the possibility to implement low- / no-till farming that can help preserve soil moisture.
Climate change is increasing the potential for drought or excessive rainfall and flooding, which can both destroy crops, including in areas of Europe. Climate smart agriculture will be an essential part of addressing these challenges. Due in part to the pressure on natural resources, like water and land, and the effects of climate change, food prices will continue to experience volatility, raising concerns about food security. The EU has a responsibility to increase its agricultural productivity while using less water and other inputs, a goal that biotech crops can help achieve.
“To Europe, food security once meant feeding its own population. Now, however, we need to view food security in terms of our responsibility towards not only ourselves but the rest of the world,” remarked Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, Director of Green Biotechnology Europe. “Numerous international organisations continue to emphasise that sustainable intensification is the way forward; we must produce more food while using natural resources more efficiently. Agricultural innovation undoubtedly has an important role to play in meeting these challenges,” he concluded.
- By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water stressed conditions.
- 70% more food will be needed and up to 100% more will be needed in developing countries.
- The UN states that the lack of water limits farmers’ ability to produce enough food to eat or earn a living.
- Drought ranks as the single most common cause of severe food shortages in developing countries.
- Meat consumption in particular is expected to rise from 37 kg per person per year in 1999/2001 to 52 kg in 2050 (from 27 to 44 kg in developing countries), and morelivestock feed will be needed.
- Water scarcity already affects every continent and more than 40 percent of the people on our planet.