Date of this Version
Presented at Range Beef Cow Symposium XXII, November 29, 30, and December 1, 2011, Mitchell, Nebraska. Sponsored by Cooperative Extension Services and the Animal Science Departments of the University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, South Dakota State University, and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
A growing wave of food insecurity threatens more than 1 billion people around the world.1 Global food costs are growing to dangerous levels, reaching record highs in January 2011. And these prices are expected to persist, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
We are at a crossroads. In the past two years, the global economic recession has decreased consumer buying power and increased food insecurity. In the next two years, tight supplies and rising food prices may stretch an already extended system to the breaking point. No longer is the number of hungry people steadily decreasing. In fact, the number of malnourished could grow staggeringly as the population reaches 9 billion by mid-century.
There are many reasons—ranging from poverty and politics to food waste, spoilage and infrastructure issues. But morally, it’s unacceptable, and it doesn’t have to continue. Unlike other global problems such as HIV/AIDS, a signifi cant component of the solution to hunger already exists: the technology to effi ciently produce an abundance of safe and affordable food. The need for action is urgent.
Yet standing in the way lies a myth: People don’t want safe, modern and effi cient technology used in food production. In fact, the research review conducted for this paper—including 28 independent surveys representing more than 97,000 people from 26 nations—exposes this myth (see Appendix, p. 12). Taken together, these data show that about 95 percent of people are either neutral or fully supportive of using technology to produce their food.