Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 10/2013

Can We Feed the World in 2050? A Scoping Paper to Assess the Evidence

Timothy A. Wise

September 2013

Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University


Since the 2007-8 food price crisis, alarms have sounded regarding our ability to feed a growing population in 2050. Some warn that we need to double food production; other estimates range from 60-70%. All feed the alarmist notion that global hunger is the result of flagging food production amid looming resource constraints. The policy prescriptions that follow -- the expansion of industrial-scale agricultural development – are deeply flawed. They ignore the true threats to our global food supply: biofuels expansion, inadequate investment in climate-resilient agriculture, especially for small-scale and women food producers, and the massive loss of food to spoilage and waste.