GLOBAL - Efficient farming must take the place of input intensive agriculture in order to be sustainable, the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture heard last week.
Feeding nine billion people by the year 2050 requires a “paradigm shift” to cope with the daunting task of producing more food while managing resources sustainably.
According to Jose Graziano da Silva, Food and Agriculture Organisation director general, farming must stop a “business as usual approach”.
He told the Berlin audience that using feed for fuel is neither good nor terrible, but part of a solution.
“It is important not to forget that biofuel emerged with strength as an alternative energy source because of the need to mitigate fossil fuel production and greenhouse gases,” he said.
"We need to move from the food versus fuel debate to a food and fuel debate. There is no question: food comes first.”
Efficient cattle production is now the coordinated target of a global cattle industry striving to become sustainable.
This was illustrated in Brazil last year when the world’s beef value chain descended on Sao Paulo to flesh out the principles of sustainability in terms of defining what this is.
Present at the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef was Kim Stackhouse of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association who talked through the “phenomenal” improvements made by the US cattle industry over the last six years.
She outlined how the Life Cycle Assessment Study, which analysed thousands of variables, was able to benchmark the US industry enabling it to quantify its sustainability and where it can improve.
“Originally started in 2010, we completed the work in 2013 showing the sustainability of US beef production had improved five per cent looking at all three pillars of sustainability – economics, social and environmental,” said Mrs Stackhouse.
“The US is widely regarded for its efficient system and the Beef Checkoff has placed the US in the lead in the development of life cycle assessments.”
Another reason why the US cattle industry leads the world is due to use of biotechnologies.
Dr Frank Mitloehner, University of California-David, told the conference that this is key in the “sustainable intensification” of the sector.
He wants prejudices to be left behind and regulators to scrutinise data on such products, giving Europe as an example of hesitance towards biotechnology in food production.
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