From population to production: 50 years of scientific literature on how to feed the world
This article (PDF) in the Global Food Security journal analysed scientific literature on how to feed the world, distinguishing between a focus on three potential levers: total food production, per capita food demand, and population. The data are not able to identify the optimal balance between the three levers. However, the study highlights a strong imbalance in the scientific research in favour of the production lever. There is a strong and increasing focus on feeding the world through increasing food production via technology, while the focus on reducing food demand through less intensive dietary patterns has remained constant and low. The dominance of production-oriented studies may undermine achieving food security and other sustainability goals, missing the advantage of potential synergies between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Results suggest that increasing research focus on diets and population size is likely necessary to provide an adequate evidence-base for policy. Furthermore, the results suggest that very few studies address all three levers in an integrated way, which may be constraining the solution space for feeding the world and meeting other SDGs. To reverse this long-term trend whereby population, diet, and food production have been tackled in isolation, the article suggests strengthening inter-disciplinary research that jointly addresses these three leverage points.