Good News (No, Really): We May Only Need to Increase Food Production 70% by 2050

bags of rice stacked at a warehouse
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What's the good news in that headline? The United Nations (UN) estimates that to feed our ever-increasing population we will have to double food production by 2050 may be wrong. So says the UK's Soil Association, who state the estimates are too high and based on flawed data. Instead, an increase of about 70% is more accurate.

Still a daunting task, but one decidedly easier considering that the difference between the two figures is more than the entire food production of the American continent.

PBS produced a series of videos titled, Focus Earth. The series explores issues facing the global community. Episode 5 of season one, The Future of Food, explores global innovations to create sustainable food sources.

Part of the problem is that policymakers have been relying on the higher figure and pushing industrial farming methods that are less-than sustainable. Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett, quoted in The Guardian:

In abusing the figures government ministers and others are trying to exclude the possibility of us producing food in a way that would be good for the planet and good for our health. Instead of assuming a ghastly starvation and obesity vision of the future, what we need is food systems which feed everyone a healthy and decent diet.

How are the figures 'abused'? The Soil Association says the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has used calculations for increased food production that are now a decade out of date, rounded up.

Additionally, the FAO assumes that billions of more people will continue to trend towards diets high in meat and dairy products and that high levels of food waste will continue to be the norm.