World food demand could double by 2050, requiring more land, according to researchers led by David Tilman, a professor at the University of Minnesota.
Meeting demand using poor countries’ existing agricultural practices would mean clearing 2.5 billion acres (1 billion hectares) of land by 2050, an area greater than the U.S., the university said in a online statement yesterday.
Increased land use could boost carbon dioxide and nitrogen levels in the environment, doubling agriculture’s emission of green-house gases, and cause the extinction of “numerous” species, the university said. Using intensive farming methods to lift crop yields could limit the additional land requirement to 500 million acres, according to the researchers.
“We can save most of the Earth’s remaining ecosystems by helping the poorer nations of the world feed themselves,” Tilman said in the statement.