We know that we have to double agricultural production in order to feed a growing global population. But does that mean we have to double the amount of farmland? How many millions of acres of forests would we have to chop down? How many natural habitats would be destroyed? How many unique species would be lost forever?
Luckily, we know that with advances in modern agricultural technology, we can grow more on each acre of already existing farmland. If we apply the knowledge we have, and continue to innovate new solutions, we can grow twice as much without cutting down one more tree.
How do we know? For one thing, we’ve done it before.
A study published in 2010 by leading researchers at Stanford University found that because of advances in modern agriculture since 1960, we are using half as much land to grow our crops than we would have had to use otherwise. (You can find the study here.)
The Stanford scientists estimate we would have had to bring an additional 6 million, 800 thousand square miles into production in order to feed the world as we do now.
How much is that? That’s more than the entire landmass of Russia, the largest nation on earth.
It’s more than twice the entire area of the continental United States (excluding Alaska):
It’s equal to almost three Amazon rain forests.
We will have some 9 billion people living on this planet by 2050, maybe as many as 10 billion by the end of the century. We have to find some way to feed them all – and modern agriculture can do the job!