The Future of Our Food System: Drivers of Change and Challenges to 2050


By Alex Tung

This is the first in a series of posts related to the Royal Society’s recently published issue “Food Security: Feeding the World in 2050,” which focuses on the drivers of change in the global food system and the challenges it faces to 2050.

The Royal Society’s “Food Security: Feeding the world in 2050” covers major challenges and drivers for change in our food system up till 2050 in 21 articles. (Photo credit: ©; Robert Churchill).

Do you need a “crash course” on food security and the future of our food system? Read the most recent issue of the Royal Society’s journal Philosophical Transactions B, which focuses on “Food Security: Feeding the World in 2050.”  The full text of the issue, comprising 21 articles that review various challenges and drivers of change in the global food system to 2050, is now available for free access online. The authors, among them social scientists and biologists, conclude that the sound use of existing technologies can result in “major advances in sustainable food production and availability,” but that investment in research is needed to cope with future challenges, including climate change. The authors note the importance of “political will” to successfully deliver technologies to those in need, and to enable political and social change to take place.

The report also discusses:

• Factors affecting the food supply, such as the use of resources and technology in production;

• Waste at different stages of the food system;

• Future trends in different agricultural sectors, including food crops, livestock, aquaculture and fisheries, alternative food sources, and wild foods;

• Broader factors affecting food demand, such as population growth and the change in consumption patterns; and

• Issues such as urbanization, income distribution, and health, which are discussed in the context of changing consumption patterns.

Other themes recur throughout the articles, including food system economics and the use and availability of resources such as water, energy, and land in relation to climate change and conservation.

Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts in which the Nourishing the Planet team discusses the challenges and drivers of change in our food system from the perspectives of supply and demand.

Alex Tung is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.

Danielle Nierenberg
Danielle Nierenberg, an expert on livestock and sustainability, currently serves as Project Director of State of World 2011 for the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, DC-based environmental think tank. Her knowledge of factory farming and its global spread and sustainable agriculture has been cited widely in the New York Times Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, and
other publications.

Danielle worked for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. She is currently traveling across Africa looking at innovations that are working to alleviate hunger and poverty and blogging everyday at Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet. She has a regular column with the Mail & Guardian, the Kansas City Star, and the Huffington Post and her writing was been featured in newspapers across Africa including the Cape Town Argus, the Zambia Daily Mail, Coast Week (Kenya), and other African publications. She holds an M.S. in agriculture, food, and environment from Tufts University and a B.A. in environmental policy from Monmouth College.
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