The UN predicts the global population could reach 10 billion by 2050. In order to meet demand, food production will need to go up by as much as 70%. Can the world meet this challenge in a sustainable manner that preserves and protects the environment? Especially if more and more will expect to adopt a so-called “Western lifestyle”, including eating more meat and having much greater choice and variety when it comes to the food they consume?

Want to learn more about food production, population growth, and sustainable farming? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):

What do our readers think? We had a comment come in from Christofer arguing that, in Europe at least, only intensive farming techniques can produce enough food to feed everyone: “Europe’s dense population depends on modern intensive farming techniques.” Is he right?

To get a response, we put Christofer’s comment to Annabelle Williams, Managing Director at the Rise Foundation, an independent foundation promoting sustainable European agriculture. What would she say?

For another perspective, we put the same comment to Simon Wancke, Vice President of the European Council of Young Farmers. How would he respond?

We also put the same comment to Mathias Vicherat, General Secretary of Danone, the global food & beverage company based in Paris. What would he say to Christofer?

Next up, we had a comment come in from Caroline, who says “We could feed 9 billion people today if we stopped food waste.” Is the issue not about producing more, but rather about wasting less?

How would Annabelle Williams from the Rise Foundation react?

What would Simon Wancke from the European Council of Young Farmers say to Caroline?

How would Mathias Vicherat from Danone respond?

Finally, we had a comment from Alexander, who doesn’t think monoculture and intensive farming is sustainable. He says he would like to see a move towards “intercropping, companion planting and food forestry” on a large scale.

If Alexander put that comment to Annabelle Williams from the Rise Foundation, how would she respond?

What would Simon Wancke from the European Council of Young Farmers say?

Last but not least, how would Mathias Vicherat from Danone respond?

Will farming need to change to feed the planet? Are intensive farming practices sustainable? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Photo by Ivan Bandura on Unsplash
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37 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    The word of UN means absolutely nothing.

    • avatar

      United Nations, it is pretty clear to me ..

  2. avatar

    yes, it needs to change. The sustainability however is another issue. We are looking a two problems. The first one has nothing to do with farming, but the supply chain management. Over-production and waste are a problem that needs to be addressed separately, subsidizing farmers is not enough- we need to develop consistent legal framework and support it with the proper distribution facilities to address that issue. That needed to happen 10 years ago. It is not a technical, but political problem and as such requires will so that it can move forward. The second part of the sustainability problem is more technical, and will require more time to address. There are interesting solutions that are coming up (lab-grown meat, vertical farming, genetically modified cultures) but those have a long way to go, so for me the real question here is how to fix the over-production of food and its waste. The technical stuff needs funding, but so far I do think that it is moving at a relatively steady pace. If there isn’t a dedicated funding branch already, it would be nice to create one, just to ensure that efforts are effective enough, by enabling collaboration between the participants and accumulating information that reduces the risk of backtracking.

    • avatar

      I totally agree, over-production and waste, and bad distribution of farming all over the world are big problems. But no need to produce more, we have to grow better.

  3. avatar

    this is such a difficult question! on one hand we really need to move away from monocultures, because they are terrible for environment and biodiversity, but with rising population levels, we also just need to make sure we produce lots of food – and thats what monocultures are good at…
    In general, I think that one of the most important things that need to happen in order to feed 10 billion people, is that people reduce their meat and dairy consumption. Because so much of the crops produced today are needed to feed livestock. If people ate more vegetarian or plant-based meals, we would need to produce way less soy etc…

  4. avatar
    Catherine benning

    Will farming need to change to feed the planet?

    Stop these open door policies you have of bringing millions of people into Europe who are simply unproductive eaters and that will do away with the need to change anything. Let the people of countries outside Europe feed themselves as they always have done in the past. Keep yours and our noses out of their business and you won’t have to rob European tax payers into looking after people who are quite capable of looking after themselves if they choose to do so. They can get off their backside just as we do if they want to. They are not children and they are not simpletons, as you appear to believe.

    • avatar
      Catherine Benning

      Forgot to add, look at how Zimbabwe and now, South Africa, are floundering as as productive nations. Once they were the breadbasket of the world.

      Now you are asking a question Europeans should never have had to address. As they find their cost of living leaving them poverty stricken, by the incredible growth of their population and the expectation of those who refuse to adopt our work ethic and values. Whilst they seek refuge within that very auspices.

  5. avatar

    Stop the meat and dairy industrie and the next generations will survive.
    We can feed more than 55 biljion animals today to feed less then 10 biljion people on earth?
    Just think about this knowing that humains dont need meat.

    • avatar
      Jean Marie

      Sorry a little less meat ok but personal I HORRORED vegans and DICTATURE…

    • avatar

      …….. And here we are, with an attitude like that, we won’t reach the solutions….

  6. avatar

    replace you battlefields with wheat fields and it’s played

  7. avatar
    EU Reform Proactive

    Questions, questions & more questions! Theories & stats, but no practical solutions! Not from the UN, not the EU or their Friends of Europe!

    Q: What could be behind the interests that the EU gets’ involved in promoting (global) food production? Isn’t it simply a typical EU economic decision to champion certain big (global) corporation in the race to achieve comparative or absolute advantages for the global 1%? The “privatization” of farming on a corporate level for profit.

    Remember the BASF/Monsanto merger?

    In parallel, the UN declared Water a Human Right in 2010. The Troika = the European Commission (EC, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are behind Water privatization in the EU. Remember Greece?

    This indicates that the EU is not shy to privatize the UN declared Human Rights like Water- to suit the Troika. Very worrying!

    It is one of the United Nations “17 Sustainable Development Goals” (SDG’s) for 2030. To promote sustainable agriculture forms part of it.

    As per the “World Resources Institute”- e.g. global consumption by 2050 of meat & milk products will fall by 6% in the EU and by 19% in Canada & USA. The big increases come from China (+116%) and India (+138%) Everyone wastes food- some more, some less.

    Challenges like: unchecked population growth, changing tastes, climate change, water scarcity and the attraction to study & work in the city- instead farming ancestral land- are just some reasons.

    Did we ever receive a proposal from the Troika/EU or the UN what to do about population growth in the countries who are unable to feed themselves in future?

    Why should it be the responsibility of Europe or any of the 27 EU Member states & their taxpayers, while others practice the opposite?

  8. avatar

    And how many tons will we waste / throw away??? 😡🤬🤬

  9. avatar

    Watch Kiss The Ground. Yes by all means, change it. Check out Charles Dowding as well for smaller scale (his No Dig method)

  10. avatar

    No, that stupid proliferation of humanity, like a virus, must be stopped! No child disability means no help from the West !!!

  11. avatar

    Less population means saving the planet and all of humanity, but few are likely to listen to the many who are reasonable. It is not just a question of food but how will we get rid of the tons of garbage that so many humans create?

    • avatar
      Jean Marie

      Partially agree with you for waste BUT NOT FOR LESS POPULATION… RESPECT FOR POOR NATIONS PLEASE whose only wealth IS THEIR KIDS…

  12. avatar

    Already now we are far too many, so 2050 it will no longer be alive.

    • avatar
      Jean Marie


  13. avatar

    Yes it fair oppurtunity giren to farms✅👍🤞

  14. avatar
    Jean Marie

    TOTALLY FALSE: With the waste done in our repugnant capitalist world THERE WILL BE ENOUGH TO FEED EVERYONE…

  15. avatar

    I can recommend the docu/film ” Demain” …..a must seen for everyone, in this docu they come up with solutions

  16. avatar

    The answers are not bio/organic or any other middle-age practices, but new technologies such as vertical farming, GMOs, bacterial proteins, etc. Vertical farming alone can increase productivity per hectare by up to 300%, with no losses due to heat, cold, frost, pests, floods, droughts, …

  17. avatar

    World population today is 7.8 billion. 10 billion means a roughly 25% increase, so why would we need 70% more food?

    • avatar

      few seem to be willing to grasp the nettle and acknowledge that the problem that needs addressing is excessive population growth. All other ‘solutions’ merely treat the symptoms, not the cause. Why should it be an unchallenged given that world population will/should reach 10 billion in 30 years?

    • avatar

      because food waste is more likely to be proportionally triple or more with the population growth…

  18. avatar

    AGW, anthropogenic global warming, destabilizes and destroys ever more ecosystems and tremendous areas of habitat for human kind by all kinds of weather extremes especially extreme heat as is argued in the Tumia article below. Not only has human kind realized the AGW greenhouse gas rise 100 times faster than with earlier mass extinctions in natural history, the death spreading agriculture and other human activties already have destroyed and are destroying more and more ecosystems and habitat for humans thus fueling the self reinforcing death spiral of ecosystem destruction and climate change by a double whamming as argued in the article below. So the above promises a mass extinction as never seen before in natural history. Good luck to the human species. They will need it and much sooner than ever imagined: The Colossal Mistake of Underestimating the Death Spreading Agriculture and Meat Industry:

  19. avatar

    A more attainable goal should be to reduce population growth to 0, if possible to regress even further. There is absolutely no need for a growing world population.

  20. avatar

    Yes and consumption habits too.

  21. avatar

    Yes, regulating births 🕷🐝👍

  22. avatar

    Definitely a very important topic to be discussed – thanks for your contributions, very intersting!

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