One of the greatest challenges facing our growing population is how we will feed an expected 10 billion people by the middle of this century. As our global family grows, experts estimate that by 2050 we will need to increase food production by 70% to accommodate the growing number of people and their changing diets across the globe. At the same time, climate change is beginning to affect every aspect of food production, creating uncertainty about the world’s ability to meet future food needs.


Hunger and malnutrition affect people all over the world. Globally, 1 in 10 individuals are undernourished. Geopolitical conflict, severe weather, and inadequate infrastructure for storing and transporting food in less developed countries lead to hunger and even famine. In more developed countries food deserts (areas where there is little to no access to full-service markets or groceries) impact health and nutrition in many communities. Hunger affects physical and mental health, leading to lower performance in school or work. This can limit development and prosperity in a nation or community and inhibit progress in other areas such as education, public health, and social equality.

Food Waste

According to the UN Environment Programme, roughly 30% of food grown globally is lost to waste. In less developed countries, most food loss happens during the handling and storage stages, often due to inadequate or poorly maintained roads, infrastructure, and storage methods to keep food fresh before reaching consumers. In more developed countries, food waste mostly occurs at homes and at the retail level (grocery stores, restaurants, and other food services). Food waste can also affect the global climate: uneaten food is the largest component of waste in landfills in the U.S., contributing significantly to methane emissions.

Resource and Energy Use

Globally, agriculture uses incredible amounts of natural resources and energy.


The world has already lost one-third of its natural forests. Agriculture is responsible for at least 90% of tropical deforestation. Trees are cleared for planting crops or grazing cattle and harvested for paper and other products. The demand for a few commodities in particular – soybeans, palm oil, and beef – spurs as much as 60% of this deforestation. Deforestation threatens biodiversity by destroying animal and plant habitats and resources provided by trees and forests. Tropical rainforests, which cover only 6% of Earth’s surface area, are home to over half of all plant and animal species. Beyond providing habitats for animals, forests also provide other eco-services including erosion prevention and carbon storage.


Agriculture pollutes our environment on a local and global scale. Crop and livestock production contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions through energy use and the methane that livestock emit through their normal digestive processes. Certain agricultural practices, such as the overuse of pesticides and fertilizers, directly pollute the soil and water, as does the runoff from animal waste.