The world produces enough food and agricultural products that are more than sufficient to satisfy the great demand, at least for many decades ahead of it. However, the world is still faced with a serious crisis for food. People worldwide have been affected in one way or another by a shortage of food, especially caused by climate change. The main objective of this essay is to explore the food situation in the world and critically analyze the root causes of food insecurity worldwide and the efforts made to deal with food shortages and issues arising from poor food management.
Current World Food Situation
Currently, the world food situation is being defined by some new driving forces. These include climate change, globalization, urbanization, energy prices, and income growth, as they are responsible for transforming food production, consumption, and markets. According to FAO, there is a possible “food price shock” if the current prices continue to soar. Food shortage and high prices led to riots in more than 30 countries in 2008. The current food situation does not look very promising in several countries, especially caused by floods or droughts (Environment News Service and Maffeo).
The security of food in the world depends on the available food supply, the income of the targeted population, accessibility of food, food consumption rate, as well as the amount that can be stocked for future use. Data from a recent conference show that about nine hundred million people lack enough food and some literary starving, with those malnourished approximated at two billion. There is a call for continuous innovation in the food production industry to meet the rising global demand for food. If the crop area and traditional methods remain the same, then food production will be deficient compared to the needs by 2050. There must be a strategy to increase global food production by about 25% and more to feed nine billion people by 2050 using the same land area.
There has been a decreasing trend of consumer confidence in safety based on consuming foods that have been genetically modified. Extensive legislation meant to monitor marketing tactics since biotechnology became prominent. This is because of claims that resistant or tolerant genetically modified maize causes many health problems. However, some criticize this claim, arguing that those associating health and environmental problems with GM technology base their claims on poor science. Moreover, the lack of adequate nutrition in large cities has led to the deaths of children from diseases like diarrhea. It also hinders proper brain and body development, which irreversibly limits children’s ability to grow, learn, and become productive adults (Maffeo).
Causes of World Food Problem
The available water currently decreases at an alarming rate. This warns that there will not be enough water on the agricultural land needed to produce enough food to feed the population of 9 billion people by 2050. Also, food prices have skyrocketed in the past few years, making it difficult for average earners to afford a three-course meal. These effects are witnessed in developing countries that rely heavily on imported food, such as North Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Biotechnology, which has been identified to be a major solution to the food crisis, is also a major cause of the looming problem. Rising demand for protein-heavy food will lead to 505 increases in food demand by 2030 due to supply constraints in developing countries.
Despite laying the blame for health problems on biotechnology, there are also many disadvantages associated with the lack of technology. This can be food loss and waste especially in undeveloped countries which cannot afford the resources to acquire proper or adequate harvesting techniques. The food practices in developing and undeveloped countries show a loss or a waste of almost one-third of food meant for human consumption. It is evident in the U.S. that allowing GM use will benefit massive food production, although public health will be at stake. For instance, GMOs have been relentlessly blamed for $190 billion in medical expenditure for obesity (Maffeo). In addition, the diversion of grains for other purposes, such as biofuel, which is non-food, is on the increase. This reduces both the amount of food and also drives increased price volatility.
Technology in Food Production
Many assumptions that increased agricultural and food production can remedy world food shortages. However, with the introduction of agricultural technology, there is greater production if land and financial resources are available. The latest issue of the American Medical Association (AMA) resolution denies scientific justification for bioengineered food’s special labeling. AMA argues that genetically engineered (GE) species of crops developed from recombinant DNA are not more dangerous than traditional plant crops. This view has been supported by the World Health Organization, European Commission, and Food and Agricultural Organization of the U.N., among many other non-governmental organizations and National Science Academies. In November 2012, Californians will go on the ballot concerning the law to mandate labeling cigarette-like food derived from genetically engineered plants. Proponents demand consumers make informed choices on the food they eat. To drum up support, they promise a technology subject to “Frankenfoods” demagoguery, provoking fear (Sexton).
In 2003, it was declared inquiry by a research academy representing 140 countries that during that time, genetically modified foods (GMOs) were not safe for consumption. California can tolerate only about 0.5% of the genetically modified composition in a GE-free food. With this high standard of purity, farmers will have to incur a greater cost for separate equipment to produce GE plant crops to avoid contamination of other operations that are non-GE. With the high cost of contamination, farmers will stop production of GE crops, discouraging scientists’ efforts in agricultural biotechnology research. If firms in GE’s most aggressive country shelve their potential innovations, which provide life-saving solutions, then there will be diminished consumer choices due to a hike in food prices (Sexton).
Introducing new technologies will only impact the increase of food and agricultural production if appropriate technology evolves within the available framework of agricultural production methods. This is achieved by analyzing the operation of traditional and social institutions and economic systems. Using modern and intensive technologies to maximize yields has one difficulty: There must be imported capital, a very scarce resource in impoverished countries. As a result, despite a registered growth in the produce from agriculture, most of it will be used to pay for the imported capital. Hence, the imported technology is insufficient, but there are costs to be met besides alleviating hunger.
Through technology, a greater volume of food produced leads to food affordability so that the masses can access it and also allow safe consumption of all kinds of food. This is an advantage, especially for remote areas where refrigeration is unimportant. Due to the sale of high-volume production, it is easier to afford processes for food preservation, such as vacuuming. Poor farmers can be helped by providing them with knowledge such as drip irrigation and soil management. This also includes working hard with researchers to provide new seed varieties to improve their yield (Maffeo).
Remedy for World Food Problems
Scientists warn of a catastrophic food shortage unless the world switches to a vegetarian diet. This will involve using technology to increase water supply in a climatically unpredictable world. Protein-rich foods from animals require a greater amount of water than vegetarian food. International Water Management Institute (IWMI) suggested that farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia invest in their agricultural sector using simple technology and small pumps instead of trying to develop expensive and large-scale irrigation projects (Sexton).
Technology has made an effort to improve the content of nutrients in stable crops, which will help eliminate malnutrition prevalent in developing countries. This technology is meant to produce extreme climate-tolerant field crops supporting life in some of the world’s poorest countries (Sexton). It is time for low-income countries to upscale their production and marketing through proper organization and diversification of their small resources. For developed countries such as the U.S., unable to produce cheap food at higher volumes to meet the food demand, companies produce versions formulated to compensate for this lack (Maffeo).
Innovations in Food Production Technology
The agricultural sector is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by the need to sustainably meet the growing global food demand. Innovations in food production technology are at the forefront of this transformation, offering solutions to increase yield, enhance nutritional value, reduce environmental impact, and improve food security. This chapter explores some of the most promising technological advancements and their potential to reshape the future of food production.
Key Technological Innovations
Precision Agriculture: Utilizes GPS technology, IoT devices, and data analytics to optimize crop yields and reduce waste. This approach allows for precise application of water, fertilizers, and pesticides, enhancing efficiency and sustainability.
Vertical Farming: Involves growing crops in stacked layers, often in controlled environments. This method significantly reduces land use and water consumption and allows for year-round production in urban settings.
CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing: Offers a revolutionary approach to crop improvement, allowing for precise genetic modifications to enhance yield, nutritional value, and resilience to pests and climate change.
Aquaponics and Hydroponics: Soil-less farming techniques that combine aquaculture with plant cultivation, using less water and space than traditional farming methods and enabling local food production in non-arable regions.
Artificial Intelligence and Robotics: AI and robotics are being used to automate harvesting, weeding, and planting tasks. These technologies improve efficiency, reduce labor costs, and can operate in challenging conditions for human workers.
Blockchain technology is being applied to enhance transparency and traceability in the food supply chain, ensuring food safety and reducing fraud and waste.
The Impact of Technological Innovations
These innovations are increasing the efficiency and sustainability of food production and making farming more resilient to challenges such as climate change, pests, and diseases. By leveraging technology, farmers can produce more food with fewer resources, reducing agriculture’s environmental footprint and contributing to global food security.
|Use of GPS, IoT, and data analytics for farm management
|Increases efficiency, reduces waste, enhances yield
|Growing crops in stacked layers in controlled environments
|Saves space, reduces water use, allows urban farming
|CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing
|Genetic modification for improved crops
|Enhances yield, nutritional value, and disease resistance
|Aquaponics and Hydroponics
|Soil-less farming combining fish and plant cultivation
|Saves water, suitable for non-arable regions
|Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
|Automation of farming tasks
|Reduces labor costs, improves efficiency
|Enhancing food supply chain traceability
|Ensures food safety, reduces fraud and waste
Global Food Security Index
The Global Food Security Index (GFSI) is a comprehensive tool developed to assess the state of food security in countries worldwide. It evaluates the core issues of affordability, availability, quality, and food safety across a spectrum of economies. By analyzing these dimensions, the GFSI provides insights into the vulnerabilities and strengths of global food systems, guiding policymakers, researchers, and stakeholders in the formulation of strategies to improve food security.
Understanding the GFSI
The GFSI is structured around three primary pillars:
Affordability: This pillar measures the ability of consumers to purchase food, the presence of policies that support consumers’ capability to buy food, and the level of price volatility.
Availability: This assesses the sufficiency of the national food supply, the risk of supply disruption, the existence of infrastructure to facilitate food transport, and the presence of policies to promote crop and livestock production.
Quality and Safety: This evaluates the variety and nutritional value of average diets, as well as the safety and wholesomeness of food.
Each of these pillars is critical for understanding the multifaceted nature of food security and provides a basis for targeted interventions to address specific challenges.
Trends and Insights
Analysis of the GFSI reveals several global trends. For instance, countries with strong economies and stable political systems generally score higher on the index, reflecting the importance of economic and political stability in ensuring food security. However, even high-scoring countries face challenges such as obesity, food waste, and the environmental impact of agricultural practices.
In contrast, countries with lower scores often struggle with issues related to economic access to food, agricultural productivity, and infrastructural deficiencies. These insights underscore the need for a holistic approach to food security, encompassing economic development, sustainable agriculture, and equitable food distribution.
The Global Food Security Index offers valuable insights into the complex issue of food security. By dissecting the components of affordability, availability, quality, and safety, the GFSI highlights areas where countries can focus their efforts to improve. It is a call to action for governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector to collaborate in addressing the root causes of food insecurity. Achieving global food security requires a concerted, multifaceted approach that simultaneously addresses economic, social, and environmental challenges.
World food problems are as diverse as their solutions. The main causes of these problems are surging population growth, decreasing land for crops, lack of resources and technology sufficient to deal with food deficit, and poor methods of consumption. The problems partly contribute to starvation, poor physical health, and poverty. To curb the current trend of these problems, scientists are working to improve technology and increase food production as well as provide solutions to the negative impacts of poor food management.