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Vertical Farms Could Solve Food Production Problems, Opinion Piece Says

“If climate change and population growth progress at their current pace, in roughly 50 years farming as we know it will no longer exist,” which means that the “majority of people could soon be without enough food or water,” Dickson Despommier, a professor of public health at Columbia University, warns in a New York Times opinion piece. “But there is a solution that is surprisingly within reach: Move most farming into cities, and grow crops in tall, specially constructed buildings. It’s called vertical farming,” he writes.

“The developed world must find new agricultural approaches before the world’s hungriest come knocking on its door for a glass of clean water and a plate of disease-free rice and beans,” Despommier writes. If vertical farms were set up in cities, food production “would take advantage of hydroponic and aeroponic technologies,” which use “far less water than conventional cultivation techniques, in some cases as much as 90 percent less,” according to Despommier. He notes that vertical farms could be established in “countries that are water-challenged — the Middle East readily comes to mind.” In addition, vertical farming could “finally put an end to agricultural runoff, a major source of water pollution. Crops would never again be destroyed by floods or droughts,” he writes, adding that financing for the farms “should come from private sources, including groups controlling venture-capital funds.” Despommier concludes that as soon as “the first city takes that leap of faith, the world’s first vertical farm could be less than a year away from coming to the aid of a hungry, thirsty world. Not a moment too soon” (Despommier, 8/23).