food security Tag

As the global population rises, so does the demand on the food supply. What challenges lie ahead for agribusiness and the world? "The assumption that everyone will have something to eat is increasingly built into the rhythm of life," writes The Economist. Food security ought to be at an all-time high. Advances in technology and changes to agricultural practice have led to a boom time: our capacity to produce food is extraordinary. Automation, genetic modification and mechanical processes combine to create more food for less work. As recently as 1900, 41 per cent of American workers were farm labourers; that figure now sits at 2 per cent. And in those hundred or so years, the capacity for production has rocketed skywards. In the 30 years between 1961 and 1996, global yields of maize and paddy rice increased by 50 per cent; global yields of wheat doubled in the same period. Those are three extraordinary decades of growth. So why can 2 billion of the world's 7.3 billion citizens not find enough to eat?

Space food – vegetables grown on Mars – is in the realm of possibility, an experiment by Dutch scientists has proven. Radishes, peas, rye and tomatoes are capable of thriving in the Red Planet's soil without soaking up heavy metals that would be harmful to humans. Other vegetables are likely to draw up quantities of copper, lead and cadmium identified in Martian soil and unsuitable for human consumption. The experiments have been conducted by Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and so far they have successfully raised 10 crops in soil with a similar composition to that found on Mars.