In the 1970s the doom and gloom crowd was preaching world famine and population collapse. They said that livestock production could not be sustained, and that the world would be forced to go vegan. They remind me of the same idiots now who tell lies about GMOs, describe conventional agriculture systems as unsustainable, and promote foodie concepts that only the 1 percent can afford. The foodies are the biggest threat to the world population getting enough calories that exists. Organic production squanders resources.
A light board above the Disney Store on Times Square touts organic cotton in Disney T-shirts. They are actually starving kids somewhere in the world because it takes six times the acres of organic cotton to produce the same amount that it does an acre of conventional cotton, wasting that land resource that could otherwise be producing food crops. Disney is a smart company, but when it comes to the organic marketing myth they are either as stupid as they come or so mercantile that they don't really care about the consequence of how they make a buck.
Organic foodie production systems will starve the world. Technological advancement in all categories is the only road to feeding 9 billion humans on the planet by 2050. Progressive Farmer wrote, "As of 2010, developed nations averaged about 39,000 births per day, while less-developed nations totaled 345,000. That adds up to 384,000 new folks arriving on the planet daily, measured against about 156,000 deaths."
Around the world, agriculture makes up 38 percent of land use. There are areas in Africa, eastern Europe and Brazil where there is still arable land to be converted to ag use, but there are not enough new acres to feed two billion more people. Increasing productivity from existing acres is the means to that goal. I have been at this now for 40 years. When I started farming, 125-130 bpa was thought of as a good yield for corn. I beat that by 100 bpa this year. Where will we get the next 100 bpa? 45,000 plant population in twin rows and 17 GMO traits ... it is out there in the realm of the possible. It is not gonna' happen organically.
I use some organic practices such as manure for fertilizer instead of commercial P and K. We use minimum tillage with no mechanical cultivation. Our politicians in Washington are idiots because they cling to foolish ideology over pragmatism when solving problems -- or not solving them, as is usually the case.
Organic foodies are the same way. Genes are organic yet they reject GMOs. GMOs should fit the organic system the same as conventional agriculture but due to some ideological rejection of science, organic systems reject GMOs. They till the soil resulting in more soil erosion and poor water resource conservation and use more fuel while producing far less per acre, per hectare, or per unit of resources invested.
Resources are finite, so organic systems squander them. Dr. Norman Borlaug believed in using all means to boost productivity. Conventional agriculture is the sustainable production system while organic production is not. I say that because if the system cannot feed the world it isn't sustainable.
Europe's ag technophobia is actually starving people. Compare Europe's lagging ag productivity gains the past decade to ours and they are left in the dust. They express concern about GMO corn reaching Africa somehow harming the people, while ironically that means they have food because of GMOs. Europe has nothing to send them harming them much worse. Europe right now is scouring the world looking to import corn. Of course, they don't want U.S. corn, limited again by their technophobia. It is insane. Europe voluntarily repeats the dark ages in one form or another again and again. This time it is a war on science and they again are on the wrong side. Countries that have adopted biotechnological practices have seen food productivity gains eclipse those that have rejected technology.
A Delta Farm Press article noted, "Right now, people say 18 percent of the cropped area in the world is water-stressed. It will be 44 percent, some say, by 2050."
Drought resistant varieties may slow the impact to production. Even in that instance technology will help. The majority of farmers don't believe in climate change, but whether they believe or not will not make it any less real. When a subscriber from Canada called asking if they can harvest corn for grain with a grain platform, the climate is changing.
I believe that feeding the world is a noble grand challenge. Overcoming obstacles is what Americans do better than anyone else on the planet, and feeding the world is well within the scope of our ability to boost productivity. In 2050 the United States will still be feeding the world, while producing some beef and ethanol to boot.
David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments, Inc. author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet. CommStock Investments is a registered CTA, as well as an introducing brokerage.