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The U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines, if followed by the other billions of people in rest of the world and not just Americans, would leave the globe without enough land to support the food supply, according to a new study.

That would be one steep food pyramid.

An extra billion hectares, a tract roughly the size of Canada, would be required to support the official recommendations if all 7.6 billion people were to eat their daily servings of meats, dairy, vegetables and fruits and grains, the PLOS ONE paper released today finds.

“Overall, for the world to meet the guidelines, additional land is required for fruits, dairy and oils and discretional products,” the scientists, from the University of Guelph and the University of Waterloo, write. “In contrast, significant amounts of land would be spared in the meat, vegetables and grain sectors.”

The data came from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations latest estimates from 2010.

The authors broke down the assumed 2000 kcal per day of consumption for the various food groups for entire nations, according to the paper. That mass was multiplied by 365 days. Their calculations allowed for imports and exports to be increased in the world’s various countries to meet demand.

Dairy is the biggest driver to cause the gap, the authors write.

Most of the additional land would be required by the huge shift in Africa, where undernourishment is currently widespread, add the scientists.

The projections avoided the increased number of mouths and farms of the future, and it focuses only on the present thresholds and a “what if” scenario, the authors write.

“Our estimate is conservative since we relied upon recent historical data rather than attempting to project into the future using population models,” the scientists write. “The world’s population will continue increasing for years to come, creating stronger challenges than our analysis has described. On the other hand, by avoiding future projections, we also neglected new technologies and possible future increases in agricultural yield in continents like Africa.”

Indeed, just this week the potato-producing giant J.R. Simplot Company based in Idaho announced it had licensed use of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tool for use in its farming – potentially producing bigger yields through less spoiling

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