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Achieving Food Security by 2050

February 11, 2015
"As the world population surpasses 9 billion people as estimated in 2050, increased demand for beef will be driven by the estimated 3 billion people expected to join the middle class who will be able to afford to add meat, milk and eggs to their diets," Elanco, a global animal health company, claimed in a recent release.

Agrimarketing covered Elanco's statement on how farming innovations have allowed the beef industry to freeze carbon footprint and save resources while providing enough protein to meet consumer demand:

If innovation is frozen at 2010 levels, farmers and ranchers will need to raise 710 million additional cattle and water buffalo to meet 2050 demand. To raise more cattle and water buffalo without improved farming best practices, especially in developing countries, farmers and ranchers would need to increase their use of grazed forage* and water by 43 percent.

With continued improvement for farming practices, such as better year-round nutrition and improved breeding and genetic selection, fewer than 1.7 billion cattle and water buffalo will be needed to provide adequate global beef supplies. This is nearly the same size as today's global herd of cattle and water buffalo, which is approximately 1.68 billion. More importantly, the beef industry can freeze its environmental footprint to 2010 levels.

According to Elanco's analysis as part of its 2014 Food Forward reporting, continued innovation in 2050 compared to frozen innovation in 2050 will lead to significant savings, including:

•Saving 2.48 trillion liters (655 billion gallons) of water
•Saving 5.6 billion metric tonnes (6.2 billion tons) of grazed forage*

While sustainable farming practices and genetically engineered food animals have shown promise as a sustainable means to feed a fast-growing world population. These innovations are being met with regulatory hurdles that are keeping these innovations off the market.

Speaking at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) recently, Alison Van Eenennaam, professor of animal science and a cooperative extension specialist at the University of California, Davis, saidthat genetic engineering, which could significantly boost food production, faces tough scrutiny though it has not harmed anyone.

The Pig Site covered Dr. Van Eenennaam's remarks:

According to the United Nations, more than 25,000 people die of hunger every day around the world, Dr Van Eenennaam said.

For centuries, breeders have used conventional methods to produce animals with desired traits, by selecting and mating males and females to produce offspring that are taller, heavier or more fertile, for example.

Genetic engineering uses more targeted and powerful methods to introduce desirable traits into animals, Dr Van Eenennaam said.

Although animal scientists have been using genetic engineering techniques for many years, to date only four pharmaceutical or industrial applications have been approved by federal authorities.
No multinational corporations are currently working to produce genetically engineered animals, she said. It is too difficult and costly to navigate the regulatory hurdles.

It costs $130 million to bring a genetically engineered crop to market, Dr Van Eenennaam said. Meanwhile, a Canadian company has spent more than $60 million since 1989 in an attempt to obtain regulatory approval to grow salmon that are genetically engineered to be larger.
With other countries now developing genetically engineered cattle for food purposes, Dr Van Eenennam said she is concerned about American agriculture if the US is unable to do the same.

She called for consistent regulation across products based on risk levels – not based on how they are made.
New technologies do need to be regulated for safety, she said, adding: “in a world facing burgeoning demands on agriculture from population growth, economic growth, and climate change, over-regulation is an indulgence that global food security can ill afford.”

For more information on how you can help achieve food security, visit ENOUGHmovement.com and join the movement to feed 9 billion people. Join the conversation by following @Elanco on Twitter and Facebook or follow the conversation around #FeedThe9.