An alarming study shows that we may not be able to grow enough food for the population in 2050. The article, recently published in the journal PLOS ONE, looks at the trajectory of the farming output around the world and concludes that if we continue in the same path, there will not be enough food grown to feed the world's population in 2050.
In the article, "Yield Trends Are Insufficient to Double Global Crop Production by 2050," its authors acknowledge that "crop demand may increase by 100–110 percent between 2005 and 2050," meaning the world would need to produce roughly double the crops it produces today to keep up with the increasing population, the increasing meat and dairy consumption and the increasing biofuel consumption.
According to the report, the way to sustainably grow more crops would be to increase crop yield rather than to increase farm land. While crop yields do continue to grow in certain locales, "yields are no longer improving on 24–39 percent of our most important cropland areas." In fact, while crop yield in the Midwestern United States have been increasing by two percent a year, crop yields in in parts of India and Eastern Europe have been static, according to an article from the Washington Post.
In comparing our capacity to increase crop yields, based on historical performance, and our future needs, the outlook looks dire. The study found that, the average rate of crop yield increase around the world is 1.2 percent per year (when looking at the world's top crops: maize, rice, wheat and soybeans). Meanwhile, the world would need to increase its rate of crop yield increase per year by 2.4 percent to fulfill our doubled needs in 2050.
These findings are highlighted in the graph above. The dotted lines denote where we will need crop yield to be in the years leading up to 2050, in order to fulfill demand, and the solid lines show where we will actually be in terms of yield if we continue on our current path.
As frightening as this graph is, what is even scarier is the fact that there are still many other factors that may pull the actual crop yields down in the year's leading up to 2050. Climate change could cause increased temperatures and droughts, stifling the ability to increase crop yields and other environmental issues such as declining bee populations could limit our ability to reach even the yield levels of the solid lines in the graph.
Check out the slideshow below to find out which crops are in danger of disappearing.
19 Crops In Danger of Disappearing
19 Crops In Danger of Disappearing
Surprise, surprise — the nation's largest producer of apples is Washington State. In a typical year, 10 to 12 billion apples are harvested every year by hand, or put another way, about three out of five apples in the United States come from Washington. That's staggering — and without bees, the cross-pollination needed to produce apples just wouldn't happen on a scale large enough to produce today's crop.
Credit: Taste of Home
About 80 percent of the world's almond supply comes from California, which requires about half of the honeybee population in the United States for pollination each year. Valued at more than $3 billion, this crop is California's top agricultural export. This year's crop is the largest ever, at 1.9 billion pounds, most of which is destined for locales in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
Credit: Miri Leigh
Besides being loaded with antioxidants, they're also delicious on top of pancakes, in muffins, and of course, in pie. The loss of the blueberry crop wouldn't just be felt at the kitchen table, however — the National Agricultural Statistics Service values the nation's blueberry crop, most of which comes from Maine, at more than $593 million, 90 percent of which is pollinated by honeybees.
Credit: Johnny Miller and Others
The prospect of a summer without this refreshing, juicy fruit is certainly a strange one. Not only is 90 percent of the watermelon crop dependent on honeybees, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, but pollination by bees is essential to ensure a melon that is evenly shaped and symmetrical.
Honeybees are responsible for pollinating about 90 percent of the cherries in the United States, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, most of which come from Washington State. Sweet cherry trees require the pollinating activities of honeybees in order to produce enough fruit for a commercially viable crop.
Credit: Leigh Beish
The rapeseed crop, better known for its common end product, canola oil, isn't exactly a tear jerker but it is one that is almost completely dependent on honeybees for pollination, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Cucumbers are a popular option for cooling down in the hot summer months. Their cool, fresh flavor and crunchy bite make them a popular addition to salads, sandwiches, and cocktails. Without honeybees, though, the majority of the country's $193 million cucumber crop would be nonexistent.
Credit: Quentin Bacon
Thanksgiving just wouldn't be the same without cranberry sauce, and we're pretty sure there would be a pretty big buzz about it around dinner tables across America if, one day, there just wasn't anymore. Cranberries, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, are 90 percent reliant upon honeybee pollination.
No onions? Well, you're pretty much screwed. Onions are the base for myriad classic sauces, soups, and stews when cooked, and when raw, are pretty much de facto in tacos, salsas, sandwiches, burgers, and salads. You'll still be shedding tears even when they're gone.
Credit: Carmen Taylor
Juicy, sweet blackberries are definitely a bit of an indulgence, but whether they're eaten on their own, worked into desserts, or swirled into yogurt parfait, they're always delicious. The loss of honeybees would also mean the loss of this cherished crop, which is almost entirely dependent on them for pollination.
Credit: Paulette Phlipot
Sweet-tart grapefruit, whether eaten with a spoon or cut into segments by the ambitious, is a breakfast staple for the health conscious. It's also delicious in salads and blended into smoothies and cocktails. Grapefruit is just one of many kinds of citrus almost entirely dependent on honeybees for pollination.
It probably goes without saying that if you're going to bring up grapefruit, you have to bring up oranges. And the data actually do back this up; like grapefruit, oranges are 90 percent dependent on honeybees for production. That morning cup of orange juice would get a lot more expensive. Maybe we'll just import our way out of this one — except, colony collapse disorder is a worldwide problem.
Credit: Joy Wilson
Luscious raspberries are a special treat, and they're great in tarts, jams, and all on their own. They'll sure be missed when they're gone. Farmers would have trouble growing most berries without honeybees, and the raspberry is no exception; the crop is 90 percent dependent on honeybees for pollination.
Credit: Taste of Home
Originally known as the muskmelon, the name of this fruit salad staple was changed for aesthetic reasons. (Who wants to eat something called a muskmelon, anyway?) All kidding aside however, the nearly $50 million annual crop is nothing to sneeze at, especially when it's so dependent on honeybee pollination.
Credit: Frankie Frankeny
There's nothing quite like a refreshing pear crisp on an equally crisp autumn evening, or simply biting down into a perfectly ripe, juicy pear. So here's another reason to help save the honeybees — the nearly $382 million annual crop is heavily dependent on them for pollination.
Credit: Annabelle Breakey
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