"Currently there is a potentially catastrophic imbalance between the world's people and the food they need. Roughly 50% of the population lives in areas where there is only 30% of the arable land.
|One technique that has transformed productivity is the breeding of so-called "dwarf" varieties - traditionally most of a wheat plant's energy goes into growing a long stem rather than nurturing the vital grains that are needed.|
Following dwarf wheat out of the lab and into the field are plants that are better at resisting drought or more efficient at using scarce nutrients.
Does Professor Peter Shewry, acting director of Rothamsted, think it's possible that a global population of 8 billion could be fed, in just 21 years' time?
"Yes", he says, "it is definitely doable".
But though many of the technologies exist now, much depends on finding ways of transferring them.
Local conditions, a lack of finance, and regional cultures could all have an impact on how readily the modern techniques are exploited."
This is perfectly fine, but one has also to note that the introduction of dwarf varieties reduced the quantities of available hay, a by-product of cereal farming. This caused the decline of livestock production and increased reliance on imported feed. The problem is not as important in places such as the UK where there are green pastures.