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A Four-Point Plan For Feeding Nine Billion People

The world is set for food shortages as the population continues to climb. Here are four things we can do to stop it

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With many of the United States’ agricultural regions still in drought, the downstream effects of this year’s low crop production are being felt around the world: candy corn costs more, pork costs more and the year-by-year reserve of food stores is shrinking. This year’s anomalously warm, dry and long growing season is an example of the conditions farmers might face as the climate warms and global precipitation patterns shift.

Falling productivity and rising prices have effects beyond your ability to balance the household budget, too. Increases in food prices are statistically linked to the likelihood of riots: when the “food price index” crosses a threshold, people get antsy.

We’ve heard this tale before, and the consequences seem dire. The trick now is in trying to figure out what we can do to build a resilient agricultural system that can weather storms like the ongoing U.S. drought.

Some solutions are… interesting, such as switching to diets based on eating bugs. Others seem kind of bland, with diets based on yams. But, as the World Wildlife Fund’s Jason Clay says, “We have to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000.

In the video above, Evan Fraser and colleagues lay out a four-pronged approach to hardening the global agricultural system. Those prongs, says Fraser, revolve around: developing or spreading access to food production science and technology, refining the food distribution networks, encouraging local farmers and regulating existing or emerging practices.

More from Smithsonian.com:
Next Year, We Start to Run Out of Bacon
As Global Food Prices Climb, So Does the Probability of Riots
U.S. Faces Worst Drought Since 1956

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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