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We Can Feed 10 Billion of Us, Study Finds but It Wont Be Easy

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource page, Organic Transitions page, and our Farm Issues page.

Recent global population growth estimates (10 billion by 2100, anyone?) plus slowing annual increases in agricultural yields have a lot of analysts worried that many of those new people will suffer from chronic hunger -- and that much of the land that hasn't been converted to agriculture will be plowed under to grow crops.

But a new study in the journal Nature argues that we can feed the world's growing population without destroying the planet ... if we make major adjustments now in agricultural and consumption practices and patterns. (Hey, if it were easy, we'd already be there, right?)

Based on new data about the Earth's agricultural lands and crop yields, the study offers some core strategies to meet future food production needs and environmental challenges. Those strategies include:

 Stop farming in places like tropical rainforests, which have high ecological value and low food output;

 Improve crop yields in regions of Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe where farmland isn't meeting its potential;

 Change farming practices to better manage water, nutrients, and chemicals;

 Shift diets away from meat; and

 Stop wasting food (up to one-third of all food grown is wasted either in production, transport, or after purchase).

Taken together, these strategies could lead to 100 to 180 percent more food available for consumption, and sustain the lakes, rivers, forests, and soil that food production depends on.

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