Some of the solutions being offered: growing meat in labs, using nanosensors inside animals’ bodies to determine their health and help target drug treatments, and genetic manipulation of livestock.
If you think this sounds completely insane, you’re not alone. It will never cease to amaze me how people are so dedicated to the idea of eating animals. We’re looking at a global food crisis by 2050 and instead of discussing how livestock and meat production are exasperating the problem, we’re trying to George Lucas our way out of it with prototypes, science fiction, and undeveloped technology.
With any discussion of food shortages, the 800 lb gorilla in the room is animal agriculture. Seventy percent of all agriculture land is used to raise livestock, and a third of land used for growing crops is used for growing feed for livestock. You simply can’t talk about increasing food supplies without talking about eliminating animal agriculture.
The article from the CBC says the scarcity of farmland would “lead to much higher prices for meat, milk and eggs in coming decades”; in fact the only “foods” mentioned in the entire article were animal products.
It doesn’t take a scientist to see the common sense that feeding plants to animals, and then eating the animals, is a horribly inefficient way to produce food. Depending on the animal, it takes between four and ten pounds of feed to obtain one pound of meat from an animal raised for food. That means between 75% and 90% of the gross weight of the food in the scenario is being completely wasted.
Many of the scientific fixes to this problem are going to require ten or more years to become feasible options. That’s ten more years of wasting water, misusing farmland, and exponential growth of the human population. Instead of spending a decade researching solutions that will only postpone the inevitable, if they even work at all, we should be looking at a lasting solution.
The only solution to the global food crisis is the end of animal agriculture. Freeing up that much farmland would not only increase food supplies by incalculable amounts — which would inevitably all but end hunger in the third world — it would benefit the health of everyone in the western world. And at the same time, it would finally end the era of modern agriculture — the bloodiest and most violent era in human existence.