The world’s population is growing, yet world hunger is on the wane — a testament to the success of agriculture. But with the global population expected to increase 50 percent by mid-century, many doubt whether our current food system can continue to provide. The problem isn’t the ability to keep producing more food; the problem is the potentially serious ecological consequences of doing so. The last agricultural revolution, begun three centuries ago, resulted in the deforestation of much of the Earth and the cultivation of nearly a third of the planet’s land surface; it also resulted in polluted water from fertilizers and pesticides, increased pest resistance, and poor soil quality. The “next green revolution” can’t rely wholly on organic farming, which won’t produce enough to feed the world — and biotechnology, the only other option currently available, has raised grave fears in the minds of many.
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