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UN Calls for Doubling Food Production

An Afghan farmer reaps wheat on his farmland on the outskirts of Kabul, June 28, 2011
An Afghan farmer reaps wheat on his farmland on the outskirts of Kabul, June 28, 2011

The United Nations warns the world's farmers will have to double the amount of food they produce to keep up with a rapidly growing population.

The U.N.'s latest World Economic and Social Survey, released Tuesday, says global food production will need to jump by 70 to 100 percent by 2050 to feed an anticipated 9 billion people.

The report says such a dramatic increase in food production will only happen if countries make a concerted effort to use production methods that are much less harmful to the environment.  It says without making major changes, food production will suffer as a result of climate change and pollution.

The U.N. report says the world will have to invest $1.9 trillion a year - about 3 percent of the total global economic output - to boost food production enough to eradicate hunger without doing further damage to the environment.  It says governments across the globe will have to take a leading role in the effort.

The report's authors say many of the so-called green technologies needed to boost food production already exist.  They say such technologies could be introduced quickly into developing countries that are not tied to technologies based on fossil fuels.

The report says one billion people are already undernourished and says recent food crises - which sent prices higher - are evidence of the need for a "radically new economic strategy."

Global food prices have risen sharply in the past year as bad weather has cut supplies of maize (corn) and wheat.  The United Nations says food prices are likely to remain relatively high over the next decade because of demand from a growing and increasingly affluent population, high energy costs, and slowing global productivity gains.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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