During the 20th century, the use of new agricultural technologies dramatically improved productivity, made food more abundant and helped reduce hunger. But according to the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI), to feed nine billion people by 2050, a science-based approach to new and existing technologies must be applied to the entire agriculture value chain.

GHI is a private-sector policy voice for agricultural productivity growth throughout the value chain and its mission is to encourage policy that will sustainably meet the demands of a growing world. The organization has released an annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) since 2010, “to serve as a benchmark to analyze agricultural productivity growth. Each year, the report is updated to mark progress made toward sustainably doubling agricultural output over the next 40 years.”

U.S. pork producers are among the most productive in the world, but rising food needs from a growing world population require us to increase productivity even more.The GHI has five policy priorities to improve agricultural productivity growth and meet the challenge of feeding a growing global population:

  • Increase investment in agricultural development and rural infrastructure
  • Strengthen and streamline development assistant programs
  • Improve agricultural research funding, structure and collaboration
  • Embrace science- and information-based technologies
  • Remove barriers to global and regional trade in agriculture

The report states: “Enhancing and accelerating agricultural productivity in a sustainable manner is a central component for achieving global food and nutrition security. Productivity can be a growth engine, leading to improved food systems, economic transformation and poverty reduction. When coupled with access to nutritious food, agricultural productivity is a powerful base for building health and stability.”

We couldn’t agree more. Few in the United States have experienced the kind of hunger those in underdeveloped countries deal with on a daily basis. Ask anyone who has lived in poverty how they feel about food, and they will tell you they trust our food system to deliver safe, healthy, economical products. Anyone who is educated on our food system and is knowledgeable of the facts will tell you agriculture has been science-based for decades. To assume that all food should be locally grown, or only organic, is not only arrogant – it’s irresponsible.

“Growing more with less while conserving the natural resource base, and minimizing loss along the value chain while adapting to changing external conditions, are critical for policies and practices affecting agricultural productivity,” states the 2012 GAP Report

Do you feel U.S. food producers have a responsibility to feed the world? If so, what challenges does the industry face in accomplishing this task? Tell us what you think.