Will Global Warming Endanger Food Production?

Tanja Folnovic

Agronomy Expert

Imagine a global temperature rise of 2-3°C over the next 50 years. While this may not sound like much, it has the potential for serious impacts – severe drops in crop yields could leave hundreds of millions without food, and up 40 percent of species could face extinction. Unfortunately, there’re more scientific results which confirm the existence of climate changes caused by global warming. Drought, floods, hail, extremely high or low temperatures are already causing disruptions in the global food supply, by reducing the production potential. High temperatures drastically affect the yield of most important agricultural crops, and thus on the food independence of each country. With each disorder in the global food market, food prices for final consumers grow. Farmers, on the other hand, generate less income and become economically vulnerable. Appears stronger need for rapid adjustment in farm management. Agricultural map of the world will have to rapidly change. The main way of fighting with this source of risk is a technological breakthrough in the form of development of varieties and breeds more tolerant to adverse climatic conditions and diseases. Through biotechnology, crops can thrive in the harsh growing conditions influenced by climate change. Plant science researchers are developing:

  • Drought-tolerant and water-efficient crops that can maintain and provide higher yields while saving precious water resources
  • Plants that use nitrogen more efficiently, reducing the need for added fertilizer and thereby lessening greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • New biotech crops to tolerate salinity, heat and provide yield stability in extremely wet climates
  • Herbicide- tolerant biotech crops, that allows farmers to remove yield-robbing weeds using herbicides instead of multiple tillage passes with heavy machinery

By using innovative plant science technologies to increase yields on existing land, farmers are also under less pressure to convert carbon-rich forests and other natural habitats to farmland. Higher-yielding crops prevent up to 13 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. The net effect of higher yields has avoided emissions of up to 590 billion metric tons of carbon since 1961. That’s equal to removing over 260 billion cars.