‘Enough is enough’ when it comes to food security debate, says Elanco president
Innovation, choice and trade - the three pillars for ensuring a food secure world before 2050
Elanco on February 13 introduced "Enough: The Fight for a Food Secure Tomorrow," a report focused on the realities and solutions available to achieve global food security. The report, written by Elanco President Jeff Simmons, advocates for farmer access to innovative tools in order to feed a growing global population and reduce natural resource use.
During his presentation at "Feeding the World 2014: Sustainable Solutions for a World Crisis" hosted by The Economist, Simmons shared the main messages of the report, explaining that innovation, choice and trade will be the core solutions to tackle food security.
Simmons laid out today's food security realities: The world's middle class will more than double in size to nearly 5 billion as the world population grows to 9 billion by 2050. However, the fastest part of that growth will actually occur between now and 2020. This means billions of people demanding access to better diets, including an increased consumer demand for meat, milk and eggs.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports we'll need 60 percent more meat, milk and eggs to meet demand by 2050. But, we're already overusing the Earth's resources; it currently takes 1.5 years to regenerate one year of resource use, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
"We are currently on the fast track to a crisis and a global shortage of basic foods such as meat, milk and eggs. For example, today, we are meeting global milk demand primarily by adding cows. On this path, we will need 40 million more dairy cows in order to meet consumer demand for dairy products in 2050. This is simply not sustainable," Simmons said.
"Health experts recommend that we have two glasses of milk each day for optimal health. Today, we have access to about one glass of milk on average globally - though clearly some have access to more or less. Given current productivity level and population growth, 500 million people won't have access to one glass of milk in 2020 if we don't make a change," Simmons explained about the crisis. "By 2040, nearly half the population, or 4.5 billion people, won't be able to meet their nutritional needs of two glasses a day.
"But alternatives exist. We have - either available right now or in the pipeline - the technology that would enable us to meet consumer demand in 2050. But we need to give farmers the ability to access and utilize this technology and ensure that proven innovation and farm practices which maintain health and productivity are available for use," Simmons continued.
In the case of milk demand, using innovations to increase a cow's annual production by as little as a half a glass a day or 4.75 ounces would fill the gap and freeze the footprint of milk production. It would mean 66 million less cows, 747 million tons less feed and 388 million acres less farmland - roughly the size of Alaska. Further, it would save 618 billion gallons of water - enough to supply the annual household consumption of the 11 largest U.S. cities.
Simmons' call for technology is backed up by food security experts, including organizations such as Heifer International.
"By providing farmers with the tools and training they need, we can empower them to feed the world's growing population. Innovation, appropriate technology and access to markets are key to helping smallholder farmers achieve autonomy and self-reliance, paving the way from poverty to prosperity," said Heifer International President and CEO Pierre Ferrari. Elanco partners with Heifer International to address shared goals for creating a food secure future, including volunteer and financial support for Heifer International initiatives.
Simmons' "Enough" report also features new research that helps detail the reality of consumer perceptions and the path for ensuring global food security with innovation, choice and trade. The research includes original consumer perception and survey data from The Nielsen Company and Elanco researchers as well as in-depth new research regarding nutrition and food chain solutions for ensuring food security.