By Dr. Jason Clay
Senior Vice President, World Wildlife Fund
I’ve just come from a fascinating discussion called The Future of Food: Food Security in the 21st Century hosted by the Washington Post and Slate. As the event went on, it became abundantly clear that global organizations like Land O’Lakes and John Deere Company agree that in order to feed a growing population and conserve global biodiversity on which we all depend for life, we urgently need to find ways to do more with less. Consider that:
- Less than 2% of Americans farm today, versus 25% in the 1930′s
- An estimated 70% of the land that is suitable for growing food is already in use or under some form of protection
- In the next 40 years we need to produce more food than we have in the last 8,000
It was also clear that there is no silver bullet to confront these challenges. We need all options on the table as we look toward 2050 and beyond.
Last summer, I penned an op-ed in Nature Magazine called “Freeze the footprint of food” (Nature, July 21 2011) which detailed eight strategies that, if executed simultaneously, can get us there. In addition, it will take a wide variety of stakeholders from across the global food system to collaborate to improve food production. That means finding new ways to drive efficiencies, reduce waste and utilize 21st Century technology in agriculture.
These are not far-fetched ideas. As I travel around the world, I’m seeing these strategies take root today. The dairy industry provides a good example. They are working together, from farm to retail, on projects like Farm Smart™, which will help dairy producers make science-based decisions about milk production and be more sustainable – economically and environmentally.
My experiences have shown me that we can find common ground with producers big and small to reduce the impact of key commodities.
That’s why World Wildlife Fund and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy formed a formal partnership three years ago, and it’s why we announced today that we are taking on another joint project that will continue to advance the dialogue.
WWF and the Innovation Center will convene a blue ribbon task force including key agronomists, NGOs, academics and policymakers.
From this gathering we plan to produce a paper that identifies solutions and strategies regarding the role different farming production systems have to play in 21st century global food security.
We look forward to sharing the results with you.