The war in Ukraine has highlighted just how perilous the world’s food supply is and how research may be key to meeting the planet’s exploding food needs. The U.S. and a handful of major food exporters feed the world, but it’s not enough.
Russia’s war on Ukraine, with both countries huge grain producers, and the expected impact on global food supplies this year prove just how vulnerable food is, a situation likely to get worse without action. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told lawmakers; “If population projections are accurate, we would need, as a global community, to increase food production by 50 percent by the year 2050 in order to feed all of the people in the world.”
And Vilsack says that won’t happen without new technology. “And it’s not going to happen unless we have the research that allows us not only to be more productive but to be more productive in the context of a changing climate, where we may have less available water resources in some parts of the world, to be able to continue productivity, as we know it, today.”
From gene editing to drought adaptation and mitigation, Vilsack says it’s “incredibly important” that there be more research. And USDA is seeking $119 million in added Ag and food research funding in its fiscal year 2023 budget request to Congress.