In his keynote speech at the AgChem Asia Summit, Crop Protection Association chief executive Dominic Dyer said the challenge of feeding 7bn people cannot be met without access to “modern crop protection tools”.
The CPA represents the interests of major chemical companies such as Monsanto, Bayer and DuPont and has been outspoken in its criticism of organic agriculture. It is an enthusiastic promoter of genetically modified crops.
Dyer told the conference: “Since I was last in Shanghai in 2002, the population has increased by over 9M to 23M people, which now makes this the largest city in the world.
“The rapid rise in living standards and urbanisation we are witnessing in China can be seen across the world from countries as far apart as India, Brazil and Turkey.”
Feeding the 7bn
This month the world’s population is calculated to reach 7bn, an increase of 5.5bn since 1950.
According to the CPA, this equates to a reduction in the amount of farmland available to feed each person on the planet from 0.5ha in 1950, to 0.2ha in 2011.
Dyer said that over 2bn people are facing starvation or malnutrition.
"With agriculture consuming around 70% of the world’s water and contributing around 12% to global greenhouse gas emissions, crop protection has a vital role to play in increasing food production, whilst ensuring we make more efficient use of scarce land, water and energy resources,” he added.
"Without effective tools to protect crops against yield losses caused by weeds, pests and diseases, global food production would fall by 40%.
“This would be disastrous for the world, resulting in more famines and disease, loss of wildlife and biodiversity, mass migration of people, wars and terrorism.”
A recent Global Citizens' Report on the State of genetically modified organisms (GMO's) claimed that GM crops had failed to increase crop yields, and had instead encouraged “superweeds” and resulted in greater use of chemicals in agriculture.
The report, backed by Friends of the Earth International, the Center for Food Safety in the US, Confédération Paysanne, and the Gaia foundation among others, also raised concerns about the safety of GM crops, claiming they can induce allergic reactions in people and animals.