Soil Association slams "lie" of food doubling claims

The often claimed need to double food production by 2050 has been branded a "big fat lie" by organic bosses. The Soil Association has accused government scientists, UN leaders, Monsanto and the National Farmers' Union of misleading consumers with the claims for the need to increase food production.

The organic advocate's new report ‘Telling porkies: The big fat lie about doubling food production’, claims the figures, that we need to double global food production by 2050, or 50% by 2030, are wrong and based on what it claims is a "big fat lie".

It claimed the often quoted statistics are based on a number of incorrect assumptions, and said the scientific basis for the claims are based on a UN FAO report which on close inspection actually says production would need to increase by around 70%, not 100%. The closest the report comes to the doubling claim is projecting that meat consumption in developing countries, except China, could double, the SA added.

It has launched its attack on the figures as it claimed the statistics are being used to justify intensive agricultural practices and the need for further expansion of GM crops.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, said:  “The ‘big fat lie’ of needing to double global food production by 2050 has dominated policy and media discussions of food and farming, making it increasingly difficult for advocates of sustainable farming methods, such as organic, to convince people we can actually feed the world without more damage to the environment and animal welfare.

“Many of those misusing the statistics in the FAO paper to argue for massive increases in food production in both UK and globally, appear to be unaware that they are in effect condemning many in developing countries to ill-health and early deaths, because they assume the spread of our unhealthy, Western diet to developing countries.

"In addition, these projections assume an increase of over a billion cattle, which would lead to massive increases in emissions of global warming gases.”

It said the UK government has already expressed concern over the figures, but other organisations continued to quote them.

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