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We examine whether and how global food production may be increased to provide for a world population expected to double by about 2050. Increasing current food production more than proportional to population growth is required so as to provide most humans with an adequate diet. We examine the possible expansion of food supplies to the year 2050, the inventory of presently utilized and potentially available arable land, rates of land degradation, and the limitations of water and biological resources. Serious degradation and loss of the world's arable land is taking place and expansion of irrigation, vital for food production, is becoming more costly and difficult. A business-as-usual scenario points to looming shortages of food. Additional stress from possible climatic alteration and enhanced ultraviolet radiation may make the provision of adequate food supplies extremely difficult to achieve. The nature of the changes that are required to make sufficient food available are identified.
Ambio © 1994 Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences