FOOD security remains among the greatest issues of current time, but rather than focusing on the negative, The Enough Movement hopes to shift the paradigm by transforming today's challenges into positive solutions.
The hunger issue often focuses on the extremes — on the disease of hunger and on the 870 million people who are chronically malnourished. However, a new report from animal health company Elanco, titled "Enough," aims to broaden the thinking on food security.
Food security is about ensuring that people not only have enough to eat but that they have access to the right calories, regardless of their country of residence or status in life.
Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco, spearheaded The Enough Movement to show that despite the many challenges, there are viable solutions available to meet the demand if people come together and act now.
To Simmons, there are three blaring food security realities that the world faces today (Infographic).
The world's middle class will more than double in size to nearly 5 billion people as the world population grows to 9 billion by 2050. However, the fastest part of that growth will actually occur between now and 2020.
This means that billions of people will demand access to better diets, including increased consumer demand for meat, milk and eggs.
The U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that meeting that demand by 2050 will require an additional 60% more meat, milk and eggs.
Increasing demand will also mean increasing prices. FAO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development expect beef, pork and lamb prices to climb 11%, 17% and 4%, respectively, in the next decade.
However, the Earth's resources already are being overused; it currently takes 1.5 years to regenerate one year of resource use, according to the World Wildlife Fund. On this course, the world will need double the planet's current resources to meet needs for 2030.
The Elanco report notes that there is a window of opportunity to meet these challenges. The next few years will determine if there is enough to meet demand or if the world deters growth in the middle class and disrupts global and environmental stability for decades to come.
"We are currently on the fast track to a crisis and a global shortage of basic foods such as meat, milk and eggs," Simmons said. "For example, today, we are meeting global milk demand primarily by adding cows. On this path, we will need 40 million more dairy cows in order to meet consumer demand for dairy products in 2050. This is simply not sustainable."
Simmons emphasized that this actually is a positive story with a solvable issue. "We've got the cure. We have enough," he said.
The three most significant solutions come in the form of innovation, choice and trade, Simmons said.
* Innovation is where the bulk of the solution lies; Simmons estimates that innovation can make up 70% of the solution by producing more with less.
"Innovation isn't just products but also practices and genetics. It's turning data to knowledge," Simmons said.
In the past 60 years, a wide range of innovations in agriculture have allowed farmers to produce more while better caring for their animals and decreasing their environmental impact. In fact, in the U.S., agricultural outputs have grown 250% with the same level of inputs, the report points out.
Simmons noted that Elanco, which develops and markets products to improve animal health and food animal production in more than 75 countries, has already seen positive improvements in a short time frame due to innovations in the pipeline.
He estimated that an additional 250 million people have been fed because of the company's work, and this was accomplished with a significantly smaller environmental footprint.
Simmons believes that what other companies are doing has increased that to 1.5-2.0 billion more people by getting products out in the market, implementing new innovations and improving practices such as access to fresh water.
* Choice constitutes 20% of the solution. Farmers need to be able to choose the right practices for their operations. Consumers need to be able to choose foods that fit their price, taste and nutritional needs. Regulators and policy-makers need to make policy choices based on science.
Choices must not be removed without a fact-based, legitimate reason from science-based regulators, the report states.
"Don't allow a luxury choice to take away a safe, affordable product from a child in Africa or the mother in Los Angeles (Cal.) who's trying to feed her children," Simmons said.
* The final puzzle piece of the solution rests in the ability to move food through effective trade.
"Eliminating barriers to the international movement of food is one of the most consequential ways to eliminate hunger and improve the lives of billions of people," the report says. "It increases food availability and affordability by creating opportunities for all farmers to access larger markets, and by integrating economies, it reduces political instability."
Duties on food are among the highest for all goods, at about 18%. While there has been progress, 160 of the 181 World Trade Organization member countries have at least one tariff line on food in excess of 100%, the report notes. "We can no longer allow politics to trump food security."
Join the movement
Simmons first discussed the components of his new report at the World Food Prize event in October 2013 and also officially released the full report at an event in London, England, hosted by The Economist.
He said the message is intended for everyone, and the movement is aimed at actively engaging consumers, companies and retailers in responding now to the challenges.
Simmons, who previously wrote a white paper in 2008 on similar themes of access to choices, said he often hears how people could get involved.
The "Enough" report, along with additional information found at www.SensibleTable.com, gives people the tools to educate others — whether within their book club, Sunday school class or their own company — on how to make food security their own cause.
"The report is geared as much for my teenage daughter as (it is) a scientist," Simmons explained.
More information about The Enough Movement can be found at the SensibleTable website or by following @JeffSimmons2050 and using #Feedthe9 on Twitter to join the dialogue.
The website lays out the vision for a food-secure world, where 9 billion people would have access to enough nutritious, affordable food of their choosing and farmers and ranchers would have the ability to use proven technologies. It also provides advocates who join The Enough Movement with resources for making their voices heard in the fight for a food-secure tomorrow.
"We all need to personally get engaged," Simmons said. "This story has a tremendously positive ending. There's progress. We don't need to get distracted by negative headlines or noise. Enough is enough."