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Lugar 4 (Richard G., U.S. Senator – Indiana and Former Chair – Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “Plant Power”, Our Planet, 14(3),

In a world confronted by global terrorism, turmoil in the Middle East, burgeoning nuclear threats and other crises, it is easy to lose sight of the long-range challenges. But we do so at our peril. One of the most daunting of them is meeting the world’s need for food and energy in this century. At stake is not only preventing starvation and saving the environment, but also world peace and security. History tells us that states may go to war over access to resources, and that poverty and famine have often bred fanaticism and terrorism. Working to feed the world will minimize factors that contribute to global instability and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. With the world population expected to grow from 6 billion people today to 9 billion by mid-century, the demand for affordable food will increase well beyond current international production levels. People in rapidly developing nations will have the means greatly to improve their standard of living and caloric intake. Inevitably, that means eating more meat. This will raise demand for feed grain at the same time that the growing world population will need vastly more basic food to eat. Complicating a solution to this problem is a dynamic that must be better understood in the West: developing countries often use limited arable land to expand cities to house their growing populations. As good land disappears, people destroy timber resources and even rainforests as they try to create more arable land to feed themselves. The long-term environmental consequences could be disastrous for the entire globe. Productivity revolution To meet the expected demand for food over the next 50 years, we in the United States will have to grow roughly three times more food on the land we have. That’s a tall order. My farm in Marion County, Indiana, for example, yields on average 8.3 to 8.6 tonnes of corn per hectare – typical for a farm in central Indiana. To triple our production by 2050, we will have to produce an annual average of 25 tonnes per hectare. Can we possibly boost output that much? Well, it’s been done before. Advances in the use of fertilizer and water, improved machinery and better tilling techniques combined to generate a threefold increase in yields since 1935 – on our farm back then, my dad produced 2.8 to 3 tonnes per hectare. Much US agriculture has seen similar increases. But of course there is no guarantee that we can achieve those results again. Given the urgency of expanding food production to meet world demand, we must invest much more in scientific research and target that money toward projects that promise to have significant national and global impact. For the United States, that will mean a major shift in the way we conduct and fund agricultural science. Fundamental research will generate the innovations that will be necessary to feed the world. The United States can take a leading position in a productivity revolution. And our success at increasing food production may play a decisive humanitarian role in the survival of billions of people and the health of our planet.

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