Friday, March 18, 2011

Feeding the Future Through Modern Agriculture: Communicating the Benefits of Today’s Food Supply

Submitted by Kerry Phillips, RD, International Food Information Council

If you’re a member of the food supply chain, chances are you've heard this statistic from the United Nations(UN):

“Food production must double by 2050 to meet the demand of the world’s growing population.”

Not only will food production need to double, but the increase in food output will have to come from the same land currently being farmed. And, as the UN points out, “70 percent of this additional food must come from the use of new and existing agriculture technologies.”

Whether you are a farmer, processor or manufacturer, this statistic may mean something different to you, but above all, it’s a call to action--Are we doing our part to communicate the benefits that modern agriculture provides in meeting the world’s food needs today and tomorrow? This is no easy challenge. While consumers tend to be very receptive when it comes to the latest electronic and mobile technologies, technologies applied to food are often viewed less favorably. However, research conducted by the International Food Information Council shows that consumers are most interested in benefits of food technology that apply directly to them and their families, such as improved nutrition, safety and taste. These consumer insights can help members of the food system to engage in conversation with the public and share how advancements in agriculture can offer these benefits.   

Stakeholders are currently working together to get the word out about the benefits of modern agriculture. Efforts to address misperceptions about specific aspects of food production, processing and technology are now being augmented by a new umbrella network, the Alliance to Feed the Future. The Alliance is comprised of 43 member organizations (and counting!), including scientific societies, universities, and industry and commodity groups. The Alliance’s mission is to multiply the impact of messages that build understanding of food production and technology issues to balance the public dialogue on modern agriculture and large-scale food production. To learn more about the Alliance to Feed the Future, visit