A NEW report suggests that "huge"
levels of investment will be required to respond to the soaring
demand for food created by the rapid acceleration of the world's
population to nine billion by 2050, writes Madeleine
Hungry Planet: Food: The search for
sustainable yield, produced by Ecclesiastical Investment
Management (EIM), warns that: "Our current food supply is not
sustainable in the medium to long term, and can only be resolved
via extensive investment in global agriculture that will help to
increase crop yields."
The Food and Agriculture Organisation
estimates that net investments of $83 billion a year in developing
economies will be needed to meet the demand in 2050. Food
production will need to increase by 70 per cent.
The report notes that rising wealth
leads to increased food consumption, and a shift towards a more
protein-rich diet, which leads to greater use of grains for animal
feed. It suggests several areas for investment, including
mechanisation, fertilisers, and livestock.
It also notes issues that ethical
investors may want to consider. Food and climate are "closely
correlated": for example, agriculture is responsible for a third of
global greenhouse-gas emissions, three-quarters of the world's
deforestation, an over-exploitation of fisheries, and increased
toxicity; and livestock waste, fertiliser run-off, and pesticides
are all damaging to the ecosystem.
"How we satisfy the ever higher demand
for dairy, protein, and aquaculture has to be built on a
sustainable framework if we're to meet the extraordinary challenge
of feeding billions more mouths over the next few decades," the
senior Socially Responsible Investment analyst at EIM, Ketan Patel,
said. "From an investment perspective, we see many exciting
The European Parliament last Friday approved amendments to
regulation which would involve imposing caps on the number of
commodities contracts people can hold or enter into over specified
periods of time. But the World Development Movement said that, in
its current form, the regulation would be "too weak to properly
The European Parliament will now meet
ministers of EU states to agree a final text that will become law
in about 2014.