It seems every time we attempt to solve to world’s future food supply shortages, we wind up making problems worse…
For example, in 1918, Fritz Haber won the Nobel Prize for discovering how to extract ammonia from nitrogen in the air, making the first nitrogen fertilizer – a technique the world has been using to increase crop yields ever since. Haber then used the same technology, in reverse, to create a deadly poisonous gas and became known as “The Father of Chemical Warfare.” Haber’s poisonous gas was the same used in World War II in the gas chambers where his own family members were murdered – a terribly tragic and unintended consequence of trying to solve the world’s food supply problems.
According to a recent Scientific American publication, the urgent need for a massive increase in the world’s food supply was laid out. The world’s population is projected to increase from 7.5 billion to 9.7 billion by 2050. To feed 9.7 billion people, farmers will need to increase their food production by 70 percent. (1)
Genetically modified (GMO) foods were touted as the solution to world’s food crisis, but now the science is in.
According to one of the most thorough studies on GMO foods conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found NO conclusive evidence that GMO foods have boosted crop yields. The new marketing pitch from bio-tech companies to farmers is that GMO seed is more “cost effective.”
Out with the Old and In with the New
While the GMO ship seems to have sailed, at least for increased yields, bio-tech companies like Monsanto, BioConsorta and Indigo have turned their attention to hacking the phytobiome to solve the world’s food shortage crisis. The phytobiome consists of plants, soils, microbes, insects and climate. (1)
Microbes, which make up our multi-trillion-inhabitant microbiome, are the new agricultural frontier.
The new plan is to coat seeds with specific microbes to help the plant increase their yields! It sounds way better than GMOs… but do we really know what we are messing with?
These companies have now collected data on more than 500,000 soil microbes – a mere 1 percent of the microbes that live in our soils. Most of the trials using seeds wrapped in beneficial microbes have failed, although through an exhaustive process of trial and error, progress is being made.
After three years of research, the first commercial product is available for corn: a microbe-coated corn variety that increases yields by 3 bushels per acre. (1)
With only 32 growing cycles before we reach 2050, 3 bushels per acre of an increased yield will not make a dent in the yield required to feed an extra 2.2 billion hungry humans.
Some of the attempted uses of microbes to boost yields have been just short of a disaster. The infamous Bt toxin, which is used in corn to destroy beetle larvae, was derived from an insect killer bacterium called Bacillus Thuringiensis. While half of the corn in America has been genetically modified to carry the Bt gene, once again, there is no evidence of increase yields, just lower cost to farmers. (1)
Bt toxin, however, has been found to drill holes through the human intestinal tract, causing many of the concerns seen today, from Leaky Gut Syndrome to wheat and other food intolerances. (2)
Soil microbes are incredibly complex. One microbe may be of benefit to one plant, but may kill another. Many plants can manufacture toxic chemicals and excrete them through their roots and leaves to ward off invaders. They can thicken their cell walls, secrete nicotine, caffeine, tannins and hundreds of other chemical to defend themselves.
Using a microbe that kills a pest or a weed may turn out to have a harmful effect on the microbes inside some or all humans, or other beneficial microbes or insects that make up the complex and subtle balance of nature. We have only mapped 1 percent of the soil microbes that exist… Are we seriously OK with the idea to launch commercial products already? Well, we already have…
The Most Overlooked and Simple Solution to The World’s Food Shortage
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, if the world’s food waste could be saved, it could feed an additional 3.480,000,000 (3.4 billion) hungry people worldwide. (2)
By 2050, we only need to feed 2.2 billion more people. Saving the food waste would feed an extra 1,280,000,000 (1.2 billion) people – Simply by not wasting the food we already produce!
Here are some of the surprising facts from this report: (2)
- The food currently lost or wasted in Latin America could feed 300 million people.
- The food currently wasted in Europe could feed 200 million people.
- The food currently lost in Africa could feed 300 million people.
- Even if just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world.
- Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted.
- Food losses and waste amounts to roughly $680 billion in industrialized countries and $310 billion in developing countries.
- Industrialized and developing countries dissipate roughly the same quantities of food — respectively 670 and 630 million tons.
- Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food.
- Global quantitative food losses and waste per year are roughly 30% for cereals, 40-50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20% for oil seeds, meat and dairy plus 35% for fish.
- Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tons) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tons).
- The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world’s annual cereals crop (2.3 billion tons in 2009/2010).