Part of The Best Books of 2012 on Economic, Social, and Environmental Subjects

One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?

Sharp increases in food prices in 2008 and again in 2012 reminded the world that food security cannot be taken for granted, especially for poor people. The world’s population is expected to grow by 33 percent in the next three decades, and most potentially arable land, excluding rainforests, is already in use. Water sources are increasingly under strain in some densely populated regions. Can adequate food supplies be assured? Conway answers with a qualified yes. He explains that many known techniques for increasing yields have yet to be fully applied but that doing so will require the mobilization of significant scientific, educational, and organizational resources. Conway lays out the considerable agricultural achievements of the last half century—raising global grain production from 900 million to 2,500 million tons, for instance—and accessibly presents some of the latest scientific research on how to increase productivity even further, including making genetic improvements to crops and livestock.

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