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Ag Community Needs to Not Only Produce More Food, But Also In Sustainable Manner

Solutions will include new policies, technologies, and production practices.

While major strides have been made in feeding a rapidly growing world population, there are still 800 million hungry people in the world.

University of Illinois agricultural economist Gerald Nelson says the challenge for agriculture is not only producing more food but producing it in a sustainable manner while raising living standards for the poor, many of whom live and work in rural areas.

Nelson published an article, "Sustainable Food for the World: Rethinking Policy, Technology, and the Environment," in the Harvard International Review, outlining that the possibility exists for a world with many fewer hungry people and food production that is sustainable and more environmentally friendly.

"The solution requires everyone to think and act globally, finding ways to choose policies and programs that enhance agricultural productivity globally, maintain environmental sustainability, and encourage technology development, while remaining vigilant about safety," he wrote. 

"With the successes of modern agriculture have come environmental costs. Current agricultural practices are responsible for dead zones at the mouths of the world's rivers and rapid species extinction," he wrote. By 2050, the human population will grow by two or three billion. Nelson explains that the growth in production must be done while dealing with the uncertain consequences of global warming and geopolitics. The solutions will include new policies, technologies and production practices, he says.

"To achieve this future, governments must recognize the global consequences of agricultural policies and find ways to overcome the resistance of entrenched interest groups," he wrote. "It is disheartening to see the collapse of the Doha round of world trade negotiations because it had the promise of moving agricultural policies in the right direction."

 The complete article can be read online (

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