Jonathan Scott suggests: “The challenges posed by agriculture are becoming more pressing as the world struggles to meet its ever-growing need for food. By 2050, over nine billion people will need to be fed – two billion more than the current population.
Additionally, the spread of prosperity and a longer-living populace, especially in China and India, is now producing increased demand for meat, eggs and dairy products that intensifies pressure to grow more corn and soybeans for a rising number of cattle, pigs and chickens. Indeed, some estimates claim that we may have to expand food production by 70%, including doubling the number of crops grown, within the next 30 years.
Meanwhile, the agriculture industry is among the greatest contributors to climate change, emitting more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks, trains and airplanes combined (largely from methane released by cattle and rice farms, nitrous oxide from fertilised fields and the clearing of rain forests to grow crops or raise livestock).
Farming is also the single greatest consumer of water supplies and a major water polluter in the form of run-off from fertilisers. And agriculture continuously accelerates our planet’s loss of biodiversity as areas of grassland and forest are cleared to enlarge the size of farms.
The overall result is a miasma of crop stress, job loss and even human displacement. For example, Homeland Security officials in the US have reported that a puzzling increase in the number of families showing up at the US border seeking asylum appear to be fleeing a hunger crisis in Guatemala’s western highlands.
Years of meagre harvests, drought and the devastating effects of “coffee rust” fungus on an industry that employs large numbers of rural Guatemalans is speeding up an exodus of families from villages now bereft of jobs and food.”