Farming and Food
Despite global pledges and national efforts to improve food security, the world still has about 840 million people who are hungry and chronically malnourished. The world will have to double its food production and also improve food distribution over the next quarter century in order simply to address this problem and to deal with the challenge of a growing world population. GM technology is a new tool to help increase farmer output and profitability and provide new environmentally sustainable techniques to produce food.
Building on shared experiences from around the world, European farmers look at the benefits of GM technology not only for economic reasons, but also to meet the challenge of managing land in a sustainable way. GM crops can benefit farmers directly, by addressing management problems and improving profitability, and indirectly, by enabling them to achieve environmental sustainability goals. For example, Spanish farmers who have been growing GM corn commercially since 1999 have achieved annual yield increases of between 6.5% to 15%. In North America, GM corn has helped increase yields by 20%.
A growing world population and the demand for more food has put greater pressure on natural resources and wild lands for agriculture. Biotechnology – which enables more food from each hectare and allows previously barren land to be used – eases this pressure and provides new environmental benefits. These developments are in line with the aims of Europe’s agricultural policy and rural development measures which are aimed at encouraging environmental services and promoting food quality, higher standards and animal welfare.