Artificial meat grown in vats may be needed if the 9 billion people expected to be alive in 2050 are to be adequately fed without destroying the earth, some of the world’s leading scientists report on Monday.
But an academic assessment of future global food supplies, led by John Beddington, the UK government chief scientist, suggests even with new technologies such as genetic modification and nanotechnology, millions of people may still go hungry owing to a combination of climate change, water shortages and increasing food consumption.
Several studies suggest farmers will be up against environmental limits by 2050, as industry and consumers compete for water. New ways to raise food production will also be needed, say scientists. Conventional animal breeding should be able to meet much of the anticipated demand for dairy and meat products but this may not be enough.
Many low-tech ways are considered to effectively increase yields, such as reducing the 30-40% food waste that occurs both in rich and poor countries.
Other studies suggest a radical rethink of global food production is needed to reduce dependence on oil. GNS