Can you imagine the entire population of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, the United Kingdom and France going hungry? You don’t need to imagine. That is exactly what happens every day when an estimated 815 million people around the globe go hungry. In the short term, the problem is likely to get worse as the population grows, diets change and urban sprawl forces farmers to produce more food on less land.
Recent reports suggest that by the time children born today reach their 30s, the planet must increase food production by at least 70%.
As a biochemist, I started my career in biomedical research, but I shifted to agricultural research in 2013 because everybody needs to eat. Now I’m working with an international research project exploring how to boost food production. The goal of Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) is to increase the efficiency of photosynthesis – the process plants use to convert energy from the sun into the food we eat. In our most recent publication, we’ve shown that it is possible to dramatically boost crop yield, by enabling the plant to get rid of its toxins more quickly.
It’s critical that we begin developing new crops now because it can still take at least a decade for agricultural innovations to reach farmers. Read more