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Reduce Waste, Cut Down Biofuel Use To Meet Global Food Needs

Writing in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Timothy Wise of the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts University and Marie Brill, executive director of ActionAid USA, discuss predictions of food insecurity, saying, “The issues are indeed serious, but the specter of looming food shortages is a bit overblown.” They continue, “The policy prescriptions that follow these dire forecasts typically call for the expansion of industrial-scale agricultural development while ignoring the obvious threats to our global food supply: biofuels expansion, inadequate investment in climate-resilient agriculture, lagging support for small-scale and women food producers, and the massive loss of food to spoilage and waste. Add to those the need for more equitable distribution of the food we currently produce, and there is no doubt we can feed the world in 2050 — if we change course.”

“Our new report, ‘Rising to the Challenge: Changing Course to Feed the World in 2050,’ shows that many of the public pronouncements calling for a doubling of global food production by 2050 are based on outdated or flawed economic forecasting and misleading characterizations of this research,” Wise and Brill state. “[T]he failure to distinguish food production from agricultural production obscures the largest single contributor to recent food price spikes: the massive expansion of agricultural biofuel production,” they write and discuss “several other key variables” they say have been excluded from “recent economic forecasting and analysis.” They conclude, “As our report makes clear: hunger, now and in the future, is less a matter of inadequate production than inequitable access to food and food-producing resources. The developed world’s myopic focus on increasing production is obviously misguided as we simultaneously waste one-third of the food that is produced and pursue a course to devote another 13 percent of cereals to feeding our cars instead of our people” (10/3).