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Fertilizer to play critical role in producing food to feed future world population

Food production needs to be doubled by 2050 to meet demand. Production will take place on approximately the same area of arable land using fewer resources, particularly fossil fuel, water and nitrogen. We must also mitigate some enormous challenges associated with climate change, says Julie Borlaug.  

At the recent annual meeting of American feed and fertilizer control officials, an expert stressed that fertilizer is vital to production of food to feed the world in the future.

Julie Borlaug, assistant director of partnerships in the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University, said in her keynote speech at the Association of American Plant Food Control Officials meeting in Austin, that food production would need to be doubled by 2050 to meet future demand.

“This will have to be done on approximately the same area of arable land using fewer resources, particularly fossil fuel, water and nitrogen at a time when we must also mitigate some enormous challenges associated with climate change as we have seen with the drought in the Horn of Africa and here in Texas,” she said.

Compounding the issue is the current critical and humanitarian need to “alleviate poverty, hunger and malnutrition,” Borlaug said. Borlaug, whose grandfather, the late Dr. Norman Borlaug, was a Nobel Peace Prize winner and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Freedom, pioneered high-yielding wheat for areas that had limited cultivation for land and increasing populations. Borlaug’s developments transformed agricultural production in Mexico during the 1940s and 1950s, and later in Asia and Latin America, sparking the Green Revolution.

Julie Borlaug’s speech was part of two main meetings held in Austin and hosted by the Office of the State Chemist, headquartered in College Station.  Dr. Tim Herrman, State Chemist and director, said the Association of American Control Officials annual meeting brought together feed and plant-food control officials and industry leaders across the nation.“The purpose of this gathering is to bring together experts in animal feed and fertilizer to craft science-based policy pertaining to the future of food security and food protection,” Herrman said. “We address these two issues with science-based solutions that protect consumers and enhance agribusiness that instill confidence and facilitate trade.”

The Association of American Feed Control Officials meeting featured Dr. Lynn Post, a Food and Drug Administration veterinary medical officer. In his keynote address, Post said Texas is a “laboratory of innovation.” Post began his duties stationed at the Office of the State Chemist in February this year, working as a liaison between the Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Office of the State Chemist.

“States can innovate and launch new programs and ideas faster than FDA,” Post said.

To carry this forward, Post is serving as a member of the Texas Rapid Response Team as a toxicology expert, advising the State Chemist office and other state government agencies on toxicology issues for feed and food in addition to his federal work with FDA.

“We think this is a model for federal-state collaboration and provides a great opportunity for innovation in food security and protection,” Herrman said.

For more information about the State Chemist office, visit


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