RATHER THAN worry about feeding the world in 2050, Gareth Cook (“The limits of farming,’’ Op-ed, Sept. 4) might acknowledge that half of today’s global population is malnourished, with a billion experiencing chronic hunger. Yet there are sufficient crops grown to adequately feed everyone.
However, more than half of the corn produced in the United States is now converted to ethanol, and most of the rest is used to feed animals, as are most soybeans produced worldwide. Excess consumption of animal products promotes obesity and chronic diseases that afflict another third of the world’s people.
Rather than accept accelerating global trends toward Western diets, promoting healthier, more plant-based diets would leave plenty of food for an expanding population while reducing our climate footprint.
Genetic engineering hasn’t solved today’s worldwide food insecurity, nor will it in 2050. More likely, it will exacerbate corporate concentration of the food system, while ignoring massive social inequality, military conflicts, and global economic policies that are root causes of hunger.
The writer is an adjunct assistant professor in the Program on Agriculture, Food and Environment at Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.