WASHINGTON, April 11, 2013 - The United States and other global agricultural research leaders need to triple their agricultural research budgets to counter climate change and reverse a collapse in yield trends, says a report issued by a British think tanks.
“Annual yield growth has collapsed across most key food commodities, both globally and in the United States,” says the study written by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation at the request of the London School of Economics. “Public investments in agricultural innovation have not been sufficient to maintain the levels of annual growth in crop yields necessary to achieve the growth in total crop production needed by 2050,” when the global population is expected to exceed 9 billion.
In the United States, increasing the ag research budget from the current $5 billion to $15 billion would return the nation back to a level of innovation not seen in 50 years and said by the study to be necessary to support development in plant genetics, biotechnology and agricultural practices.
The paper, Feeding the Planet in a Warming World, says there is an “ever-widening effect of climate change on the planet (that) requires the development of comprehensive adaptation strategies that can transform our socio-economic systems to meet this reality,” especially in agriculture. “The world requires game-changing innovation and next generation technologies to address the impacts of climate change, and our exploding population, on global food production,” the report adds.
To meet the challenges, the report argues that a focus must be placed on advancing the research and development of plant and animal genetics and new agricultural practices, recommending that “policy reforms designed to dramatically increase government investment in agricultural research, development and deployment” must be adopted. The report also calls for the transformation of the regulatory framework for and an increase in the use of genetically modified (GM) foods.
The authors note that many countries ban all uses of GM foods and many more, such as the United States, require “unjustified testing and oversight of GM products which increases production costs and delays market access.”
The report calls for the creation of regulatory standards that focus on the safety and nutritional value of the product - not how it was produced.
“GM foods have been a central factor in increasing food production and decreasing costs over the last three decades, and are as safe as any other type of food,” says Val Giddings, a senior fellow with the institute. “By transforming the regulatory framework to meet this reality we can more rapidly develop new agricultural advances and broaden their use globally.”
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