Friends of the Earth, Compassion in World Farming

The escalating demands of a growing and increasingly affluent world population are putting the natural world under mounting pressure. Human use of land, along with climate change, is undermining the Earth’s ability to deliver vital life-support services.

Feeding the world sustainably, fairly and humanely in the coming decades, under increasing pressures due to climate change, is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Friends of the Earth and Compassion in World Farming commissioned a study to model how the Earth can provide sufficient food and fuel for its likely population in 2050 while meeting the following objectives:

• Reducing agriculture’s environmental impact

• Reducing animal suffering through humane methods of livestock farming

• Protecting areas that are critical to life on Earth such as tropical forests

• Tackling the contrast of widespread obesity in some world regions and malnourishment in others

• Investigating the potential for the use of biomass for energy provision where it can be sustainably produced and is proven to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The full research study, entitled ‘Eating the Planet: Feeding and fuelling the world sustainably, fairly and humanely’ focused on land and biomass use, including cropland farming, livestock rearing, bioenergy production and conversion of primary biomass to food and fuel. It was not within the scope of the primary research to consider the social, economic and political factors which influence decisions on production, diet, land use or choice of technology.

This briefing summarises the findings of the study and looks at their implications:

• Although availability of good agricultural land is limited, this study finds that feeding the world in 2050 is possible without the most intensive forms of animal and crop production or a massive expansion of agricultural land

• Humane livestock farming can be adopted and environmental objectives in crop production can be met without jeopardizing food security. Humane and sustainable farming can provide sufficient food to feed a growing world population

• Options for providing sufficient food and fuel are greatly expanded if developed countries adopt healthier, lower-meat diets and food is distributed more equally

• Sufficient food can be provided in 2050 without further deforestation, although robust policy intervention would be needed to halt current rates of deforestation

• Optimistic expectations of future bioenergy potentials should be reconsidered and lowered

• The effects of climate change on future crop yields are highly uncertain. Climate change impacts are likely to affect levels of  food supply and bioenergy potentials.

For the full report and executive summary see:

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