"The case for urgent action in the global food system is now compelling ... as critical resources such as water, energy and land become increasing scarce." Sir John Beddington, UK Chief Scientist, 2011
Nearly a decade since the concept of the 'perfect storm' set to wreak havoc with global food security was coined by Sir John Beddington, little has changed.
There are three-quarters of a billion more people to feed and there will be another two billion by 2050. Global warming and extreme weather events are starting to bite. Deforestation continues to create more land for farming. Yields of many staple food crops like maize, rice, wheat and soybeans have plateaued.
In crop protection, chemistry we have relied on for two or three generations to protect crops from weeds, pests and diseases faces widespread and increasing problems of resistance.
Farmers are facing a huge challenge: herbicide resistant weeds, which threaten global food security. Our challenge is to find safe and effective herbicides with new modes of action.
The challenge is clear, but there are many hurdles and innovative science and technology must be engaged if these are to be cleared successfully … and in time.
Farmers must produce more food to feed 9.1 billion people by 2050. Already, 800 million people face hunger and two billion are mal-nourished. More than a third of crop productivity is potentially lost to weeds. Even with today's herbicides, yield losses due to weeds could have provided food for one billion people. We need better herbicides.
Weed resistance has become a major issue for crop production, threating global food security. The root of the problem is the difficulty in finding new herbicide modes of action. Today resistance is present in more than 250 weed species infesting nearly 100 crops and affecting 23 of the 26 known herbicide modes of action.
Producing more food cannot be at the cost of damaging the environment. The best way to minimise the environmental footprint of farming is through intensification that uses the least amount of land, which in turn leads to less deforestation and frees up more land for nature reserves to maintain biodiversity.