The world’s croplands could feed 4 billion more people than they do now just by shifting from producing animal feed and bio-fuels to producing exclusively food for human consumption, according to new research from the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota.
Noting the major cultural and economic dimensions involved, the researchers acknowledged that while a complete shift from animal to plant-based diets may not be feasible, even a partial shift would benefit food security. Quantifying the impact of various strategies, they found that a shift from crop-intensive beef to pork and chicken could feed an additional 357 million people, and a shift to non-meat diets that include eggs and milk could feed an additional 815 million people. Also crops are increasingly being used for bio-fuels rather than food production.
“The good news is that we already produce enough calories to feed a few billion more people,” Emily Cassidy, lead author of the paper, says. “As our planet gets more crowded or we experience disasters like droughts and pests, we can find ways of using existing croplands more efficiently.”
This might not be the last answer to solve global famine but it’s nevertheless an interesting point.