Can Science Feed the World?

That’s the question posed by the title of a big splash in Nature. The answer, in case you don’t want to work your way through the various contributions, as summarized in a handy pamphlet, is yes, by enabling sustainable intensification, although not on its own. So nothing wildly new there. Also not new is that once again agrobiodiversity gets the shaft. One of the articles does focus on plant breeding, but it doesn’t mention the need to ensure the long-term availability of its raw material — crop and livestock genetic diversity, including that in genebanks. There’s also a piece by Jeffrey Sachs and numerous co-authors on the need for better global monitoring of agriculture, which doesn’t mention the desirability of monitoring levels of agricultural biodiversity on-farm. Oh well.

5 Replies to “Can Science Feed the World?”

  1. I do agree with you. There is a tendence to ignore the importance of the biodiversity within nature or crops. The simple fact that everyday we are loosing another species of corn, or another race of pigs is a serious threat to the genetic diversity necessary for “safe farming”. What I want to say with “safe farming” is that it is necessary to have distinct species of corn (for example) available if a certain used species is now being infested with a pest. So on, we can switch to a type of corn that is naturally resistent to that pest for 2 or 3 harvests…
    I really dislike the ideia of genetic modifying species in order to give them resistance to a plague or more adaptability to a certain type of soil…while we do have all that already created by nature.
    I think that when geneticists do not talk about biodiversity, it is because they are more prompt to “create” artificial genetic modifications within plant/animal species…why? I don´t know..maybe because it is good business…

    thnks for all your data, articles and discussions..

    kind regards,

  2. That the Sachs et al. piece doesn´t mention biodiversity is surprising, as some of the authors are prominent in biodiversity circles.

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