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Agriculture Summit Addresses Doubling Global Food Output By 2050

On Tuesday in Washington, D.C., U.S. agriculture companies Deere & Co., Archer Daniels Midland Co., DuPont Co. and Monsanto Co. met with lawmakers, hunger experts and other officials at a Global Harvest Initiative symposium to address “sustainable” food production, Reuters reports. The Global Harvest Initiative was founded to achieve “the goal of doubling agricultural output by 2050 to meet rising world demand,” according to the news service.

Although all the companies say that increasing farming efficiency will make it easier to work together, “the unique partnership will create business challenges that are yet unforeseen,” according to the news service. The four companies currently spend about $9 million per day on research and development. “But they say developing sustainable agriculture production will create hurdles including producing more on nearly the same amount of land and minimizing the environmental impact,” Reuters writes.

The business leaders said “that working to create sustainable production around the world will not only bring food to millions of starving people, but it’s ultimately a lucrative source of revenue for their companies” (Doering, 9/22).

In a Global Harvest Initiative/PRNewswire statement, Hugh Grant, Monsanto’s president and CEO, said that “[d]oubling productivity by 2050 in a sustainable manner will require … partnerships at all levels.” He called on “agriculture, conservation and hunger organizations to walk shoulder to shoulder with us to help close the productivity gap.” DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman said, “We know that we can’t wait until 2050, or even 2020, to begin addressing this problem. We need to start right now to focus on agricultural solutions through innovation, investment and government policy (9/22).

The Reuters article also examines how the “public outcry has sparked efforts among world leaders to reduce the rate of hunger.” In July, G8 countries pledged $20 billion to promote agriculture in developing countries. This initiative “will take center stage when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discuss food security on Saturday in New York,” the news service writes. Around that time, the Obama administration will release its food security plan, according to a “U.S. official, who spoke on condition that he not be identified.”

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., “told reporters at the hunger conference that according to notes from Secretary Clinton, she will discuss ‘a multi-sectoral approach’ promoting the development of infrastructure, education and research along with increasing farming productivity for local producers,” Reuters writes. The article includes additional comments from Lugar and other officials (9/22).

In related news, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Wednesday said that 70 percent more food needs to be produced globally by 2050 to “feed a projected extra 2.3 billion people and as incomes rise,” Reuters/Washington Post reports.

In a statement, FAO’s Assistant Director-General Hafez Ghanem said the agency “is cautiously optimistic about the world’s potential to feed itself by 2050,” but that “climate change and biofuels demand” could be central challenges for agriculture worldwide. Global investment in agriculture and access to food will need to be increased, “otherwise some 370 million people could still be hungry in 2050, almost 5 percent of the global population,” according to FAO (Kovalyova, 9/23). FAO’s release also examines the growing demand for food and the use of land and water. The findings were published in a discussion paper ahead of the World Summit on Food Security, which is scheduled to take place in Rome from Nov. 16-18 (9/23).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.