Burgeoning Billions: The Arithmetic of Food Security
In 1968, when Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb predicting a substantial increase in deaths due to famine, he gazed out at a planet with roughly 3.5 billion people, half the number of today. Having now surpassed 7 billion, experts say we will add two billion more by mid-century.
To put things in perspective, it was not long ago that a child with a rare and profound talent was said to be “one in a million.” Today, a one-in-a-million child born in just one country, China, with its 1.3 billion citizens, would have to queue behind more than 1,300 other souls.
Focus on Food
Chief among those worries is our collective ability to feed the burgeoning billions who call Earth home. In both technical and strategic fronts, DuPont is leading the effort to ensure that we will be able to nourish every new mouth that joins the human chorus.
One example is our partnership with The Economist Intelligence Unit on the Global Food Security Index. The GFSI is a first-of-its-kind benchmark identifying both the risks and opportunities in food security by examining the affordability, availability, quality and safety of food across more than 100 nations.
The Index is a unique gauge in that accommodates shifting factors such as price and governmental policies to instantaneously assess food security. As such, it is a continually changing barometer of food security worldwide, not a once-a-year snapshot.
A formal report on the Index’s findings was published in May 2015. Overall, the 100-point index increased 1.2 points to 57.9, continuing a positive trend that has seen the index add 2.7 points since 2012.
The Economist Intelligence Units chalked the jump to global economic growth, lower prices and investments in food infrastructure. Additionally, the EIU noted that the gap between the most and least food-secure nations has narrowed. Both findings indicate that new global citizens, wherever they are born, enter a world that is better able to nourish them.
Among other positive findings, the report says that 18 countries began nutritional monitoring programs during the year. The EIU now says that 94 percent of indexed countries have some form of safety and nutritional monitoring programs. Food monitoring is a strong indicator of improving nutritional standards, which bodes well in ensuring the quality of global food supplies in coming years.
On the downside, however, the report noted profound challenges ahead, including the aforementioned population growth, concerns about continued dependence on agricultural productivity, the specter of climate change, waste and obesity.
Obesity, for instance, is a new and somewhat confounding entrant on the list of the EIU’s challenges, indicating that over-nutrition is as much a risk to food security as under-nutrition. According to the report, 65 percent of the world's people live in countries where obesity-related diseases cause more deaths than malnutrition.
As the world rises to the challenges of food security in coming decades, DuPont will continue to play an active and significant role across the entire food value chain from farm to table.