Innogen  ·  Publications  ·  Consultation responses
Parliamentary Inquiry
The UK’s Role in Tackling the Challenge of Global Food Security until 2050

Executive summary

1. The Food and Agriculture Organization reported in late 2008 that in a matter of time, for the first time, one billion people would be classified as ‘food insecure’ or ‘undernourished’ (FAO, 2008).

For the preceding 30 years this figure has remained fairly static at around 800 million (cf. FAO, 2004; 2006). This very recent, very large increase in the number of people who cannot gain access to sufficient food has largely been attributed to massive increases in the prices of staples, which have risen more than 140 percent between 2003 and 2008 (Gallagher, 2008; World Bank, 2008).

2. This submission draws on the ESRC Innogen Centre’s expertise in studying the relationship between agricultural science, innovation and development to underline the need for the UK to support effective, reflexive and innovative agricultural research at a range of levels and across a variety of technologies if we are to able to feed 9 billion people sustainably and equitably by 2050.

We argue that understanding the complex dynamics and contexts of food production, consumption and the role new knowledge and technology can play is improving food production and access to food is essential in avoiding potential crisis. We believe a systematic, innovation systems approach to understanding these relationships and applied to agricultural research and technological development are central in this.

Consequently, our submission focuses on key issues in this regard, highlighting opportunities, weaknesses, examples of good practices and risks, drawn from our own research.