Urgent action needed to tackle world hunger

Urgent action is needed if the world is to avoid a global hunger problem, according to a new UK government backed report, which urges curbs on resource-intensive types of food.

The study, the Foresight Report on Food and Farming Futures, has taken two years and involved 400 experts from around the world. It has declared the current models unsustainable and calls on governments around the world to act now on an international level.

It said there was no “silver bullet” to tackle all the problems, but called for concerted action on a number of fronts.

Speaking to the BBC, the government’s chief scientific adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington said that a range of initiatives were needed, including the consideration of using GM technology.

He said: “We have 20 years to arguably deliver something of the order of 40% more food; 30% more available fresh water and of the order of 50% more energy. We can’t wait 20 years or 10 years indeed - this is really urgent.”

He said the report highlights the fact the world is facing a “a perfect storm” of a growing population, climate change and diminishing resources for food production. It calls for food and agriculture to move up the political agenda.

According to the study, “piecemeal” changes are unlikely to work: “Nothing less is required than a redesign of the whole food system to bring sustainability to the fore.”

Launching the report, Professor Beddington told the BBC: “We’ve got to actually face up to the fact that this is a complicated problem which involves vastly different levels of society and we need to be persuading policy makers not to think about food in isolation, not to think about climate change in isolation, not to think about water in isolation, not to think about energy in isolation. All of them are intimately related.”