Will we be hungry in a warming world? USDA wants to know

Niina Heikkinen, E&E reporter

The agricultural livestock field will have to undergo systematic changes to cope with food security and sustainability problems in a climate-changed world, according to a new report commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences.

By the year 2050, demand for animal protein is predicted to go up significantly as the global population reaches between 9 billion and 10 billion people. Meat and egg consumption is expected to increase 73 percent from 2011 levels, and dairy consumption will likely go up by 58 percent. In order to meet the rising demand, animal scientists will need to develop more sustainable production practices, while also dealing with climate change’s effects on yields and on animal and human well-being, explained the report’s authors.

In addition to climate change, the nearly 300-page reportaddressed a broad range of other factors affecting future sustainability and food security, including landscape degradation, pest control and the spread of disease.

“The simple broad message of this report is that too much research has been siloed or fragmented into specialty sections,” said B.T. Turner II, Gilbert F. White professor of environment and society at Arizona State University and member of the committee. “We need a systems-based approach.”

Add more science, subtract methane

For animal scientists, that would mean greater integration of environmental, economic and social sciences into their studies, starting in the very early stages of their research, said Mo Salman, a member of the committee and professor of veterinary epidemiology at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University.

Read more here: http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060011619

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