Written by 40 scientists in 35 countries, it is a reality check for those who say we need to double food production by 2050, and that new technologies such as GM are the only way to reach that goal.

Professor John Beddington, who led the report, says the world will need 40% more food in 2050 – lower than many previous estimates – and that this increase must be met by a mixture of different solutions, including tackling problems of waste, water and energy.

There is little disagreement that more food needs to reach more people across the globe. Today almost a billion people go hungry.

The question mark remains over how food can be made available to those people, who are mostly living in the developing world.

Dr. Tom MacMillan, Food Ethics Council executive director says:

“The argument is over who decides which technologies or efficiencies are appropriate.

“The priority must be to give the people most vulnerable to climate change and food insecurity more control over the markets, policies and innovations that affect them. That means listening to those people at the sharp end and investing in the things they need. That can be challenge for expert reports like Foresight’s, as scientists and economists like to have the answers.

“Our Food & Fairness Inquiry, which reported last summer, set the experts leading the Foresight study a crucial credibility test: to recognise that the fact that tackling hunger today and in 2050 is more about power and poverty than about technology.”
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Notes to editors

1. The Food Ethics Council believes we can have a food system that is healthy and fair for people and the environment. We work with businesses, government and civil society to help find a way through the difficult issues surrounding food and farming.
2. We have worked on meat and climate change, GM technology, water scarcity, supermarket power, food miles, environmental labelling, and much more.
3. The Food and Fairness Inquiry was a major investigation into the global food system, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. We brought together 14 people from across the food and farming sectors and convened three evidence sessions around key areas of inequity in the food system. The resulting report can be found here.
4. The Food and Fairness Inquiry committee members were Helen Browning OBE, Chair of the Inquiry and Director of External Affairs at the National Trust; Dr. Charlie Clutterbuck, Director Environmental Practice at Work; Elizabeth Dowler, Professor of Food and Social Policy at the University of Warwick; Andrew Jarvis, Principal, GHK; Dr. Susan Jebb, Head of Nutrition and Health Research, MRC Human Nutrition Research; Terry Jones, acting Director of Communications, National Farmers’ Union; Harriet Lamb, Chief Executive Officer, Fairtrade Foundation; Melanie Leech, Chief Executive, Food and Drink Federation; Jeanette Longfield MBE, Coordinator, Sustain – the alliance for better food and farming; Ben Mepham, Special Professor in Applied Bioethics, University of Nottingham; Andrew Opie, Food Policy Director, British Retail Consortium; Christopher Ritson, Professor of Agricultural Marketing, University of Newcastle upon Tyne; Geoff Tansey, Joseph Rowntree Visionary for a Just and Peaceful World; and Paul Whitehouse, Chair, Gangmasters Licensing Authority.