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Solutions for a Growing Population

Solutions for a Growing Population

According to the US Census Bureau, the world population will increase to over 9 billion by 2050. One of the major problems that the world will face will be hunger. Currently one in seven people do not receive the proper nutrients and proteins, what would that number be like by 2050? With more people, there will be less land for agriculture and increased agricultural yield may lead to deforestation. Still, many scientists believe that there are plenty of ways countries can improve their yields.

With little land available for food production, scientists have been looking to alternative methods of increasing crop yield. One of the ideas that they are pushing is the increased use of GM crops. While there are still very little studies done on the effects of GM crops on humans, the ever increasing temperatures may eventually make it difficult to grow different plant varieties. Several GM crops already exhibit improved temperature, drought pest and salinity tolerance. Not only would this increase crop yield, it could also reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers, some of the major contributors to water and overall pollution [Source: Telegraph]. Other scientists are concentrating on improving selective breeding. UK scientists have decoded the wheat genome and hopes that this will help create efficient breeding programs and create more productive, resource-efficient varieties of the plant [Source: MercoPress].

Besides plants, scientists have also looked into improving protein yields through various methods. One of these methods is growing artificial meat in large vats. In 2009, researchers in the Netherlands created the first artificial meat, a soggy pork. Cells from a pig are combined in a broth with other animal products. The cells then multiply and create muscle tissue. Unfortunately, the produced meat is more like wasted muscle tissue though ideas to simulate exercise for the muscle is underway. The artificial meat could also reduce the amount of greenhouse emissions caused by livestock, which currently stands at 18 percent of the world’s emissions.  [Source: Telegraph]. Artifical meat has appealed to many vegetarians and even organizations like PETA have turned their attention to potential breakthroughs. In 2008, PETA donated $1 million to the first scientist who can create a sufficient market for in vitro chiken in ten states. While PETA has been notoriously anti-meat, their viewpoint is more focused to the actual slaughtering and treatment of the livestock. With the introduction of artificial meat, there is only a slab of meat that is cloned from the original animal. The manufactured meat could also be loaded with essential nutrients and vitamins, reducing the necessity for certain types of vegetables. In vitro meat is nothing new and has in fact been added to various meat substitutes (like soy burgers) to give it a meatier texture and taste [Source: PETA]. For many, the idea of eating lab-created meat might not be as attractive. It would be difficult to tell which meat was lab grown and which was not without proper labelling, and without proper oversight, it is hard to know what animal products actually go in this broth (Soylent Green, anyone?). For those on the more conservative side, other organizations have been pushing aquaculture. Modadagu Gupta, a scientist from India, was able to teach villagers all around Asia how to utilize roadside ditches, ponds and other unused bodies of water to raise fish. Not only has it improved nutrition for the families, it also brought in income for many of these small farmers. In Bangladesh alone, the villagers were able to increase production from 300 kilograms per hectare to more than 5,000 kilograms per hectare in a matter of months [Source: America.gov].

While using technology to improve food yield is important, perhaps the single most important thing is to reduce population. Currently, there are twenty countries around the world that have a negative or zero natural population growth: Japan, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Moldova, Croatia, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Italy, Slovenia and Greece [About.com]. Not only will reducing population improve food security, it would reduce the amount of pollution and greenhouse gas.

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228 comments

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3:43AM PDT on Nov 6, 2010

people have to produce food inside the cities and not just in the rural or country side. we can start with small gardens per family to large buildings multileveled that produce food with renewable energy.

12:09PM PDT on Sep 18, 2010

Thanks

9:13PM PDT on Sep 17, 2010

There are many many kids that need a home. If one family have real love to share, why not to adopt the kids that are already here ??

6:34AM PDT on Sep 17, 2010

Birth control in developing countries could avert the population explosion.

12:03PM PDT on Sep 16, 2010

This obsession with meat merely serves to strengthen my belief that our whole society is just one massive addiction. Slosh loads of synthetic vitamins into a 'meat' slush so we won't need so many vegetables??? And at the same time as we don't know how we're going to feed our vast numbers, we're encouraging women even past normal childbearing age, and regardless of whether they've already had children, to believe thay have a right to have babies, or more babies. Time was when if you didn't get pregnant you might be a bit sad but you got on with your life. Now we want what we want and we want it NOW. The reactions when I tell people I am vegan - not telling them they should be - are addicts' reactions - angry, defensive, blaming, diverting... The way the West is pushing meat eating in developing countries is also like addicts - they're much happier when everybody else is doing it too so they can feel ok about it. As Chellis Glendinning wrote quite a few years ago 'I'm in recovery from Western Civilisation'.

10:30PM PDT on Sep 15, 2010

I think that reliance on GM would be an unduly risky strategy.

1:31AM PDT on Sep 15, 2010

Many cultures still have this outdated idea, that they must have as many children as possible. The thinking behind this, is that the children would look after them, in their old age.That might have worked a long time ago, but in this day and age it's just not feasible. I still think that the biggest threat to mankind is going to be our dwindling water resources. Without this precious commodity we will all perish!

3:41AM PDT on Sep 14, 2010

Totally agree with Alberta G.
Birth control is a necessity. Why the world does not see that?.. And in my opinion it must be started already nowadays.

4:22PM PDT on Sep 13, 2010

I think that your point about population is a good one.

4:20PM PDT on Sep 13, 2010

I think that humanity should restrain its numbers and demands, to enable wildlife - and itself - to survive. I also think that we can share better, and improve distribution of food.

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