The Science Behind Feeding the World

An aerial view of sustainable terraced fields in Central Madagascar.
An aerial view of sustainable terraced fields in Central Madagascar.

There’s a Science To Feeding the World

There is no question that we face daunting challenges in feeding the world today, and that the challenge of finding solutions for world hunger will get only more daunting in the decades to come. But DuPont and its collaborators across the food chain are optimistic, as scientific innovations have already significantly enhanced the quality and quantity of food production. These contributions include:

  • Maximizing the yield potential of seeds – even in harsh conditions
  • Keeping crops pest-free and disease-free
  • Enhancing the nutritional value of staple foods
  • Detecting contamination before it causes sickness
  • Reducing waste by packaging food to protect it from contaminants and decay.

Through the scientific method of research, application of prior knowledge and innovation, mankind has the capacity to address the food crisis, if only the global community can also find the will to address the political, economic, trade, infrastructure and regulatory issues that will also play a critical role in achieving food security.

Four Pillars of Global Food Security

DuPont sees the achievement of global food security and safety by 2050 as a mission built upon four pillars:

  • Science is universal, but solutions are local: Although science provides universal answers, solutions must be local, due to wide variations in a number of environmental factors, including climate, soils and pests, as well as cultural traditions and issues surrounding transportation/distribution infrastructures.
  • Collaboration unlocks answers: Solutions must be collaborative—reached in concert with farmers, communities, local businesses, governments and NGOs who know the “facts on the ground,” and with global corporations with specialized expertise to help solve specific problems.
  • Science must become local wisdom: Know-how must be brought to the people and places that need it most. Working side-by-side with the population in education and outreach efforts transfers knowledge to the communities who need it to secure their futures.
  • Solutions must be sustainable in the broadest sense of the word: The food supply must continually expand, while also considering social, economic and ecological factors such as infrastructure, storage and waste and improving and preserving water quality.

DuPont collaborations in agriculture, nutrition, food protection, packaging and biosciences provide guidance for future efforts to increase food security and safety all over the world.

Looking forward to 2050

The Advisory Committee on Agricultural Innovation and Productivity for the 21st Century, convened by DuPont and chaired by former U.S. Senator Tom Daschle, has reported that the food security challenge facing mankind is three-fold. We must:

  • Produce more food and increase the nutritional value of food.
  • Make food accessible and affordable for people.
  • Address the challenge in a continuously more sustainable and comprehensive way.

Using Applied Science to Meet the Challenge

The applied science of DuPont and its collaborators has already made great strides in meeting the challenge by:

  • Developing soy supplements to make protein available and affordable
  • Producing higher yield varieties of corn and rice
  • Helping producers meet environmental standards
  • Protecting the integrity of the food supply through pathogen detection and packaging
  • Working directly with farmers to improve agricultural practices.

This application of science—done in very specific ways, tailored to each location and practiced from the research lab to the rice paddy is the key to meeting the challenges articulated by the DuPont Advisory Committee. That is why 60% of the total research and development budget at DuPont is devoted to unlocking innovations in food, agriculture and biotechnology.

The successful application of science to achieving food security and safety will above all require a complete commitment to collaboration all along the food chain—from field to table—and must include those individuals and organizations with the power to make the world more secure politically and socially, including national and regional governments, NGOs, manufacturers, high technology firms and others.

Because, quite simply, feeding the world is everyone’s business.

Learn more at: DuPont Food Security