How we feed 9 billion people

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Transcript How we feed 9 billion people

How we feed 9 billion people
David Zilberman
ELP 2011
• Big challenges ahead
• How agricultural biotechnology mitigates
climate change
• Offsetting effects
• Policy
Big Challenges: Rising Food Demand
Per Capita Meet Consumption
(in kg) in Asia (1962-2002)
• World pop will grow 30% by
• Rising incomes cause per
capita demand to grow too
• And diets are becoming
more land intensive
• Food production must grow
faster than population
Big Challenges: Falling yield growth
U.S. Staple field crop yields
(MT/Ha) 1990-2002
• The Green Revolution
allowed production to
double as world pop
doubled to 6 bn from 19401990
• But productivity growth is
slowing and stalling in
staple crops w/o biotech
Big Challenges: Energy Demand Rising
World Marketed Energy
Consumption (Qbtu) 1980-2030
• 6% of China pop owned car
in 2007. 80% in UK and 90%
in US.
• Demand in non-OECD
economies will grow 104%
from 2006-30
Big Challenges: Oil is harder to get
• New supplies are harder to
reach (e.g. deep sea oil
• And dirtier (e.g. deep sea oil
wells, tarsands, CTLs, etc.)
Big Challenges: Climate Change
• We need both adaptation and mitigation
– Temperatures are likely to rise by 1 – 2C
regardless of what we do
– Adaptation means
• Changing crop systems
• Starting farming in new areas
• Agriculture must do more (food and biofuel)
with less (emissions and land)
A diversified strategy
• Investment in research and outreach
• Use of integrated ecological practices
– Adapting farming to ecological and climatic conditions
– Taking advantage of diverse sources of knowledge
• Taking advantage of new science and technology
– Information technology
– Molecular and cell technology
• Agricultural biotechnology and GMOs
• GMO is maligned but I will argue that it is an essential
part of (sustainable) agriculture of the future
What is Ag-Biotechnology?
• Ag-Biotech applied modern tools of molecular and cell
biology to agriculture.
• The discovery of DNA is arguably the greatest discovery of the
20th century.
– Comparable to the discovery of the atom & electricity
– Enables understanding of the inner working of organisms
– Provides tools to minor manipulations that have major impacts
• Medical biotech radicalized medicines and develop tools to
deal with cancer, AIDS, etc.
• Agricultural biotechnology can do the same to crop systems
- Help to increase and improve food production, produce renewable fuels
and other materials
- It is in its infancy but already has a successful track record and a
promising future.
Science and Miracle of Agriculture
Population doubled since 1950
Food per capita increased
Food per worker increased
There are side effects that need to be
addressed but
• science is the best tool we have
One reason:
yields increased
What is the global impact of GE ?
• Adopted on 4 major
crops(cotton, maize,
rapeseed, soybean)
• Mostly in US, Latin America
• Cotton in China, India and
• Adoption grew fast
About 70% of soybean land
About 50% of cotton
About 30% of maize
About 20% of rapeseed
First generation GM varieties
controlling pest damage
• Insect resistance & herbicide tolerance
• Actual output = potential output X (1-damage)
– GM varieties reduce damage when there is no
– replace pesticide to control damage
• In developing countries, likely to have high
yield effect
• In developed countries, pesticide replacing
Estimated yield effect of GE seed
varies by trait, region (from Qaim ‘09)
GM made huge differences:
Maize yield
Visual Diff-in-Diff: maize yield
Visual Diff-in-Diff: Yield percent
deviation from mean (Argentina)
Crop breeding, as well as genetic tools and techniques, are
crucial for the increase in yield
Corn Yields US per acre
Overall assessment of GMO
• Yield of GMO crops cotton & corn grew much faster
than other crops
• Impact highest in developing countries
– Yield effect in cotton close to 100% maize 50%
Implications for Land use
• Gene revolution allows us to meet growing food
demand without relying on farmland expansion
• Without GE yield gains in ‘08, would have
– 8.6 million HA more land to produce maize crop
– 11 million HA more land for soybean crop
– An area of additional land equal to state of Kansas or
total area planted to wheat in U.S. in 2008.
Simulating the crisis without GE seeds
Implications for food security
World Food Price Index in 2000
dollars (World Bank)
• By increasing supply, GM
reduced the price of corn by
between 15-30% & soybean
between 20-40%
• Without biotech, the food
crisis would have been
• Food price reduction
because biotech is
equivalent to food price
increase because of biofuel
If there were broader adoption of GE
• If top-10 producing countries had all adopted GE
at the rate of the US . . .
– maize production would have been 75 million tons
higher just from yield gains
• Biofuels recruited 86 million tons
– Vegetable oils production would have been 37 million
tons higher
• Biofuels recruited 8.6 million tons
– food prices would have been lower
– We could have food AND fuel
If there were broader adoption of GE
• And if GE wheat were introduced in top-10
countries and yield gains mirrored those in
soybean . . .
– Production would have been 12 million tons
• Biofuels recruited 26 million tons
Expansion of soybean acreage met
China’s growing demand
GM allowed double cropping of
soybeans with wheat
Soybean production in Argentina
and imports in China
• It has created virtual land
expansion of 10M acres in
• Argentina has met fastgrowing Chinese demand
for soybean
Other benefits of GM
• US NRC report suggests GM more environmental
friendly than traditional agriculture
• By reducing pesticide use, it saves thousands of
lives in China
• It makes farmers lives easier (which is a plus)
• Reducing acreage saved the equivalent GHG
emission of a 6.4 million cars annually
• Reducing soil erosion and water run off by
encouraging no tillage
• It saves fuel and water by increasing yield
Relative to Modern Breeding
Biotech Can Enhance Crop Biodiversity
• Main premise: Agbiotech allows minor
modification of existing varieties and under
appropriate institutional setup can be adopted
while preserving crop biodiversity
• Conventional breeding involves often massive
genetic changes, and adjustments to
accommodate biodiversity are costly and
• Well functioning IPR system can lead to crop
biodiversity preservation
• Field data support this claim
Environmental Effects
NRC Report Findings :
Gene Flow
• No or very limited spatial overlap between GE
crops and potentially interbreeding relatives in the
United States
• Future concerns depend on what GE crops emerge
in market
• Primarily a concern to producers of non-GE
varieties of these crops
GM essential for dealing with
Climate Change
• Climate change is serious. We need to fight
fire with fire.
• GM would allow much faster development of
crop systems
• Sustainability does not mean keeping the
status quo because evolution means change
• Thus sustainability means the ability to adapt
and adjust to change with minimum damage
• Biotech enables such adjustments
Dependence on business (monopolies?)
• We are dependent on business firms for provision of
cellphones, medicine and almost everything else.
• Producers price goods so that they are affordable
• 60%+ of the economics of GM went to consumers
and farmers
• Governments should and will stay involved in GM to
complement businesses
• Many patents belong to universities & are available
for developing crops for the poor
• Even companies contribute IPR for crops for the
Big challenge: Regulation
• Banning GM and regulatory uncertainty reduced
investment in developing new technologies
• Heavy regulation increased the power of
monopolies, they are only ones who can afford it
• Technologies to improve food quality, reduce GHG
emission and address drought and diseases are
languishing on the shelf
• Europe’s yield are declining relative to the Americas
• Africa is more vulnerable because of taking limited
advantage of opportunities– Africa missed the Green Revolution – will it miss the Gene
• GM technology has certain gain and some
uncertain risks
• But we should accept small risks in order to
mitigate big ones