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Radical changes required to feed the world: report

Amidst reports about looming food shortages and skyrocketing prices, new research points the way to a more sustainable food future.

The British government's Global Food and Farming Futures report, released yesterday, argues that radical changes are required in order to feed a projected population of 9 billion by 2050.

"Without change, the global food system will continue to degrade the environment and compromise the world's capacity to produce food in the future, as well as contributing to climate change and the destruction of biodiversity," states the report.

"The global food system is spectacularly bad at tackling hunger or at holding itself to account," Lawrence Haddad, director of the Institute of Development Studies and an author of the report, told the Guardian.

Many of the reports conclusions are not new. They include re-invigorating extension services for farmers, reducing waste, and making room for small farms and farmer co-operatives -- many of the same ideas expressed in a recent Tyee series on local food and farming.

The report urges "sustainable intensification" to boost yields in the developing world, arguing that organic agriculture and GMO crops should be part of the solution.

This is significantly different from the conclusions of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development report published in 2008, which found that small-scale and organic production methods -- not GMOs -- were the way to avert hunger in the coming decades, notes the Guardian article.

The most recent report comes out of the British government's Foresight Programme, and compiled data from approximately 400 experts in 35 countries. The project began in 2007 after food prices spiked for the first time in decades.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee

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