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As the baseball player Yogi Berra famously quipped You can observe a lot by just watching .
Well, if you have been watching the world around you, I bet you noticed that it is getting pretty
crowded. You may have also noticed some of the challenges that come along with all these
people. In this course, we are going to spend a lot of time talking about one of these challenges.
What is it?, you ask. Why, it is the challenge of feeding all these people (this is not a course on
quantum physics you know!). Now, maybe feeding the world wasnt on the top of your list. You
may have been thinking about averting nuclear Armageddon, or saving the whales, or coming up
with a cure for cancer. The reason that it may not be top in your mind is that we live in a country
where food is abundant and cheap. But if you think about it, you will begin to appreciate how truly
important increasing the worlds food supply will be to your future prosperity and that of all
citizens of the world. You may even start to agree with me that feeding the world in a sustainable
fashion is the most important problem we have to solve over the next 50 years or so. We eat
(snack or meal) between 3 and 5 times every day (for me it can be even more!). Try not eating
for a couple of days (or even one day), and you will see how important food is to you. But I am
getting ahead of myself. I have not yet shared the magnitude of the population problem. So lets
do that first.

I am sometimes surprised with the answers I get when I ask students to tell me approximately
how many people are on this planet; you know, Earth. Before I tell you, write your guess down on
a piece of paper so you can see how close you get. While you are at it, write down the population
of the United States of America. Also, write down the top three countries in terms of population.
Finally, of those three top population countries, which ones population is growing at the fastest
rate? Now tuck your answers away until later.
To help you start to put real numbers to the challenge of world population growth, I would like you
to watch this video by one of my favorite scientists, Dr. Hans Rosling [1]. Take careful note of
where world population was in 1960, where it is today, and where it is predicted to go by 2050.
Also, note what Dr. Rosling points out as factors that affect the rate of population growth. Now
enjoy! If you would like to activate the close captioning feature, look for the box on the lower left
side under the video.
So now you know that the population is over 7 billion (~7.1 billion as of December 2013). Yes,
that is billion with a B. For you mathematicians that is:
7,100,000,000
If you want to get a real-time feel for how fast the world population is growing (along with a bunch

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of other interesting statistics) go to: World Meters [2] . Remember, most of these counters and
statistics are estimates, so they might differ by a few million with others you may find on the web.
You now also know that world population is heading for just over 9 billion by 2050 (~9.3 billion)
and some estimates put the world population at over 10 billion by 2100. Putting it another way,
the world population will increase by about 30% in your lifetime. I hope you and I both are still
around in 2050. And, yes, everyone will need to eat!
Now, what are the three largest population countries? Well, if you guessed China, India and the
US (followed by Indonesia and Brazil) you were right on. China and India are converging at about
1.3 billion each. I say converging, because their population growth curves are actually starting to
move in opposite directions (See Figure 1 below). Chinas population is leveling off and should
actually start to decline in the next decade. This is due, in part, to the one child policy put in
place by Chinese Communist Party Leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979. With this policy there were
rewards (cash payments) for families having only one child, and severe penalties put in place
(fines, etc) for those families with more than one child. And it worked! It is estimated that this
policy alone resulted in 400 million fewer children being born. This is almost 100 million more
than the total population of the U.S. which stands at just over 300 Million (317 million in 2013).
How did you do with your estimates? So, one of the take home messages here is that small
percentage changes in huge numbers can result in really big numbers.

Figure 1. Population Estimates in the top 5 most populace countries. U.N. Department of
Economic and Social Affairs [3].

Now, lets get back to the converging population numbers of China and India. If Chinas
population is starting to level off, that must mean that Indias is still increasing. This increase is a
reflection of the fact that the average number of children per mother in India is 2.7. When you
compare this with 2.0 for U.S. women and 1.3 for Chinese women, you begin to see how fertility
impacts population growth. Now, if you were paying attention to Dr. Roslings video presentation
on world population, you would be correct to point out that while China, India and the U.S. are
large population countries that use a high percentage of resources, they are not the problem
going forward relative to global population growth . In other words, the big three will not be
contributing greatly to the growing world population (India a little bit, but not much). Dr. Rosling
pointed out the reason for this in the video.. poverty and high infant mortality rates contributes

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to high birth rates primarily on the African continent. You only need to look at the number of
children per mother in some African countries to see the magnitude of the problem. For example,
Niger, Uganda and Congo all have more than 6 children per mother. This is illustrated in Figure 2
where you can see that, in Niger, the actual number of children per mother is right around 7! Now
Figure 2 below shows the relationship between number of children per mother and wealth. You
can see the countries with the greatest poverty, have the greatest number of children per mother.
Remember how Dr. Rosling characterized their aspirations? "Food and shoes". So affluence
(wealth) is a major contributor to reducing the birth rate. Countries like China and India that are
moving into the developed country category (are becoming more wealthy) are reducing their
birth rates. That is why they are not part of the population growth problem going forward. Another
factor which reduces population is the high infant survival rates and the increasing urbanization
of these countries. I think Dr. Rosling's video made this point quite clearly. This also illustrates
why there is such a global push to increase infant and child survival rates (see: Gates
Foundation [4]).

Figure 2. Relationship between number of children per woman (birth rate) and wealth.
The Y-axis is number of children per woman and the X-axis is per capita gross
domestic product.

We can look at population growth another way in Figure 3; by continent. When you look at it this
way, you can see population on the African continent will nearly double during the first half of the
21 century (2000-2050) while population in North America, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and
Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, and South Asia, see Figure 4 [5]) will be stable or actually
decline over the next 40 years. So, impoverished people in Africa, struggling to afford food and
shoes, will be the vast majority of the increase in population over the next 40 years. And, as Dr.
Rosling pointed out, this is already ongoing and cannot be stopped. The great challenge will be
whether they can advance their economies (increase their wealth) and improve child survival
rates to bring down their birth rates in the second half of the twenty first century.
UN 2008 estimates and medium variant projections (in millions).
Year World

Asia

Africa

Europe

Latin
America

Northern
America

Oceania

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2000

6,115

3,698
(60.5%)

819
(13.4%)

727
521 (8.5%)
(11.9%)

319 (5.2%) 31 (0.5%)

2005

6,512

3,937
(60.5%)

921
(14.1%)

729
557 (8.6%)
(11.2%)

335 (5.1%) 34 (0.5%)

2010

6,909

4,167
(60.3%)

1,033
(15.0%)

733
589 (8.5%)
(10.6%)

352 (5.1%) 36 (0.5%)

2015

7,302

4,391
(60.1%)

1,153
(15.8%)

734
618 (8.5%)
(10.1%)

368 (5.0%) 38 (0.5%)

2020

7,675

4,596
(59.9%)

1,276
(16.6%)

733
646 (8.4%)
(9.6%)

383 (5.0%) 40 (0.5%)

2025

8,012

4,773
(59.6%)

1,400
(17.5%)

729
670 (8.4%)
(9.1%)

398 (5.0%) 43 (0.5%)

2030

8,309

4,917
(59.2%)

1,524
(18.3%)

723
690 (8.3%)
(8.7%)

410 (4.9%) 45 (0.5%)

2035

8,571

5,032
(58.7%)

1,647
(19.2%)

716
706 (8.2%)
(8.4%)

421 (4.9%) 46 (0.5%)

2040

8,801

5,125
(58.2%)

1,770
(20.1%)

708
718 (8.2%)
(8.0%)

431 (4.9%) 48 (0.5%)

2045

8,996

5,193
(57.7%)

1,887
(21.0%)

700
726 (8.1%)
(7.8%)

440 (4.9%) 50 (0.6%)

2050

9,150

5,231
(57.2%)

1,998
(21.8%)

691
729 (8.0%)
(7.6%)

448 (4.9%) 51 (0.6%)

Figure 3. Change in population in major regions of the world from 2000 to 2050. Wikipedia.

One final comment about the #3 large population country; thats us, the U.S. The U.S. population
is projected to grow slowly over the next 40 years from our current 312 million to about 470
million. A significant portion of this growth will come from immigrants and their children. This is
our heritage. We are a country of immigrants and their arrival is helping the U.S. avoid the
population declines that occurring in Japan and Russia. Our current birth rate is very close the
2.1. This number, 2.1, is the replacement rate and critical for our countries long term economic
health. Think of it this way, at 2.1 children per woman, each couple replaces themselves without
addition to the population. What about the 0.1? you ask. Well this accounts for infant and
childhood mortality.
CONTINUE TO NEXT PAGE
Links:
[1] http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/hans_rosling_on_global_population_growth.html
[2] http://www.worldometers.info
[3] http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/index.htm
[4] http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Pages/home.aspx
[5] https://elearning-ag.vmhost.psu.edu/courses/ansc100/sites/edu.courses.ansc100/files/course_images/fig4.png

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Now, certainly wealth and child survival rates are key to


controlling population growth, but there is another big factor
involved in the declining rate of population growth in many
parts of the world. It is a factor near and dear to my heart,
namely education. Yes, education. If you examine Figure 5
to the right, you will see that the number of children per
mother in China is greatly affected by the amount of
education received by the mother. Those mothers with little
or no schooling have greater than 2 children per mother
and those with the greatest amount of education have
fewer than 0.5 children; and what good is a half a child
anyway! (remember, its an average). Whether or not a
mother obtains schooling is driven by costs (poor can
afford less than wealthy), availability (rural can find less
than urban) and religious/cultural practices (some restrict
access to education). For example, in Figure 6 below, you
can see that among majority Muslim countries, there is a
Figure 5. Effects of level of education on
wide disparity in the amount of education a women
number of children per mother in China.
receives, from levels that are typical for western countries
(>12 years school) to just a few years of school. And just
like the graph on education and fertility in China, those countries where women attain the highest
level of education, have the lowest birth rates. In this example, the birth rate is more than double
for those with the least amount of education. What about the U.S.? Does this trend hold in a
country where the vast majority of women attain at least some high school education? Yes it
does. In a 2002 study done by the Center for immigration studies (Figure 7 [1]. American
Community Survey, 2002) native-born U.S. citizens with less than high school education had 2.2
children per woman. This was even higher, at 3.3 children per woman, in immigrant women with
the same (low) level of education. But those achieving the highest levels of education (college
degrees and higher) had only 1.7 and 1.9 children per woman for native and immigrant women,
respectively. So education is the key to reduce population growth. And remember when it comes
to education, it is all about cost, availability and freedom of access.

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Figure 6. Effect of level of education on number of children per women in majority Muslim countries.

One final thought on birth rates. While I told you earlier that 2.1 children per family is optimal; you
know the replacement rate. If a couple has two children, they replace themselves in the world
population without added or decreasing it. Now some of you might rightly argue that we should
be shooting for less than 2 so that world population actually decreases. Well, while this might be
good for the planet, it is not so good for countries. Once population growth falls below
replacement rate, countries begin to have problems which grow greater over time (the classic
snowball effect). Here is how it works. Most countries have some sort of social safety net (aka
social security or pension) to care for their citizens in their old age (non-working years). The cost
of this social safety net is borne largely by the younger workers. So, when population growth falls
below the replacement rate, the average age of the population increases (it grows older) leaving
fewer workers to supporting more retirees . This can also happen when there is a sudden spike
in the birth rate like occurred right after World War II. This created the baby boomer generation,
the oldest of which started retiring in 2011 and the youngest of which wont retire for another 20
years (like me!). Whether the imbalance is caused by a spike in births or a decline in births, it can
really spiral out of control and devastate a countrys economy. But lets also look on the bright
side, one unintended benefit of a declining workforce is that wages and benefits tend to increase
as companies compete for the best workers . If this is taken to the extreme, companies may
decide to relocate to another country with a lower wage structure. We see this happening all over
the world right now. Two countries that have population growth rates below their replacement
rates are Japan and Russia. Both of these counties are expected see population declines of
greater than 20% over the next 40 years.

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Figure 8. Top 10 high urban population countries.

Now, let me try to steer this discussion back to where we started and focus on the challenge of
feeding this growing world population. One big demographic change that has occurred over the
past 50 years is that more people are moving from rural areas (countryside) to urban areas
(cities). Now, dont be alarmed, this is actually a good thing for the planet. For example, services
(electricity, sewers, police, hospital care to name just a few) are provided much more efficiently to
urban populations than for rural populations. For some excellent reading on the benefits of
urbanization I suggest are real good (optional) book by Stewart Brand title Whole Earth
Discipline: an ecopragmatist manifesto (Viking Penquin, 2009). Urbanization leads to efficiency
(and innovation) and, as you will learn throughout this course, it is all about efficiency;
especially when it comes to agriculture. Figure 8 above shows the top 10 countries urbanized
population. Once again, the U.S. is in the top 5 with over 250 million of our 310 million citizens
now living in cities. What is driving this urbanization you ask? One big factor is food security . As
countries, like the U.S., become better at feeding their people, a whole basketful of benefits
begin to accumulate. Will we talk about this more in the next lecture, but two big benefits are that
fewer people are required to produce food (so they move from the country to the city) and food
prices decrease leaving people with more money in their pockets. This also leads to
improvements in health (adequate food supply is necessary for health) and increased child
survival. As you might have already guessed, the Unites States leads the world in efficient food
production, producing far in excess to what it actually needs to feed its population. Figure 9
below shows the average number of calories produced per capita (per person) in the top 10 food
producing countries. Even with our large population we lead the world with 3754 calories of food
per person, almost 25% more than the world average of 2804 calories per person. Two benefits
that arise from this are that our food is relatively inexpensive to purchase and, that we can export
the excess to help counter or trade imbalance (balance of exports and imports). This imbalance
largely results from importing consumer goods (electronics, clothes etc) and energy (oil) from
other countries.

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Figure 9. Top 10 countries for calorie supply (food) per capita.

So lets summarize what we have covered. The world population is currently at 7.1 billion and
heading to 9.3 billion (almost 50% increase) in the next 40 years. However, across the planet, the
rate of increase in population growth is slowing (see Figure 10 below). Most of this population
growth will occur in the poorest countries in Africa whose citizens struggle to have enough food
to eat and where birth rate and child mortality (death) is greatest. The top three most populace
countries are China, India and the U.S. China and India are on opposite population growth
trajectories with Chinas population reaching a plateau and starting to decline and Indias
continuing to rise to 2050. The U.S. population will rise gradually over the next 40 years, largely
as a result of immigrants with a higher birth rate. As countries get wealthier and better educated,
they reduce their birth rates to more sustainable levels. From the standpoint of countries, a
birthrate of 2.1 children per women is ideal and is referred to as the replacement rate. Anything
below (or above) this creates problems for countries as it will eventually lead to a
disproportionate number of retirees, the cost of which must be borne by fewer number of
workers. Oh, and did I mention all these people, 50% more in your lifetime, will have to
eat?!

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Figure 10. Change in the rate of population growth from 1950 to 2050. World Bank [2], World Development Indicators.

Now, here is a tickler for the next lecture, 50% more people to feed in the next 40 years using
roughly the same amount of land for agriculture (the world is not getting any bigger you know).
How will we.I mean you.do it?
CONTINUE TO NEXT PAGE
Links:
[1] https://elearning-ag.vmhost.psu.edu/courses/ansc100/sites/edu.courses.ansc100/files/course_images/fig7.png
[2] http://data.worldbank.org/

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Bigger Yields and a Smaller Footprint


This lecture will discuss the impact that improvements in production efficiency have had on cost
and availability of food. We will investigate whether we can continue to rely on increases in
efficiency of food production to meet our growing demand for food. The link between efficiency of
production and profitability and sustainability in agriculture will be discussed. We will cover, just
briefly, the role of Universities like Penn State in improving agricultural efficiency. In addition we
will investigate the effects of inexpensive food on a familys budget.
In the last section we tried to get an accurate picture of the global population problem. This helps
us understand the challenge we have feeding the world. Remember, we are at approximately 7.1
billion people in the fall of 2013 and we are predicted to add another 2.3 billion by 2050. Of the
7.1 billion people on the planet right now, very close to 1 billion (~950,000) fall into the category
of food insecure (See Figure 1 below). An individual who is food insecure does not have access
to sufficient food during at least some time of the year. Food insecurity can range from
occasional hunger to malnutrition to starvation.

Figure 1. World Food Insecure Population 1996 -2010.

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So, how are we are going to feed these 2.3 billion new hungry mouths? The first challenge is that
we will need to produce the food using roughly the same amount of land. I say this because most
useful agricultural lands are now under cultivation or pasture (See Figure 2 below). And we
certainly dont want to cut down more forested lands or degrade wetlands and streams to make
more agricultural fields. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO [1])
predicts that only about 70 million hectares (1 hectare is about 2.5 acres), roughly a 5% increase,
will be added for agricultural production by 2050. So we will need to produce about 70% more
food (Oxfam International [2]) and do it largely by increasing the efficiency of production. That
means that agriculture will need to produce higher yields per acre of land and more production
per animal . Oh, and by the way, most of the population growth, and hence demand for food, will
occur on the African continent that is plagued by poor growing conditions for plants or animals in
many areas. The challenge is a daunting one to say the least!

Figure 2. Change in Agricultural Acres in


Production and Urbanization in the U.S. from
1950 2000.
Science Time [3]

Agricultural Efficiency and the Land Grant University Mission


Now, before you start getting depressed, lets look at what agriculture has accomplished in terms
of efficiency of production and the role Penn State and other Land Grant Universities have
played in this growth.
Actually, the record of increasing efficiency of production in agriculture is pretty impressive (See
Figure 3 below). Remember, efficiency is defined as increasing output per unit of input .
Increased efficiency almost always results in improvements in profitability and can make
industries more sustainable. Remember, if a business is not profitable, it will go bankrupt.
Sustainability is a word we hear a lot today. The best definition I have heard for sustainability as
it relates to agriculture is practices/activities that meet the needs of the present generation
without compromising the ability to meet the needs of future generations . Continued growth in
efficiency is critical to feed the growing world population, and it must be done sustainably. Figure
3 represents efficiency as total factor productivity which takes into account all the various
inputs (factors) required to generate the agricultural output. For purposes in this lecture these two
terms can be used interchangeably. Figure 3 shows a pretty impressive and sustained increase
in productivity over the last 60 years.

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Figure 3. Change in Agricultural Productivity in the U.S.


from 1948-2008.

Table 2 shows the change in agricultural efficiency in percent from 1990 to 2006. You can see
that the world average productivity growth during this period is 1.5% per year. The United States
has done a bit better at 1.79% and China has really been increasing productivity, averaging
3.5%. Now, there is more to these numbers than meets the eye. First, you should understand
that the better you are at something, the harder it is to improve. So, for example, China looks like
they are the masters of agriculture with a 3.5% average productivity growth per year and the U.S.
looks pretty ordinary at 1.79%. Well, the reason for this is that China in 1990 was far behind the
developed world in terms of productivity and could achieve rapid improvements in productivity
merely by implementing practices that have been used widely in the developed world for
decades. Contrast this with the U.S. which has one of the worlds most sophisticated and
technologically advanced agricultural production systems. In the U.S., continued improvement in
productivity gets harder each year. And remember, it is this productivity growth that we are
relying on to feed the world in 2050. Whether agriculture can continue to meet this challenge has
been weighing on the minds scientists, economists and world leaders. This worry is concisely
presented by Robert J. Samuelson in his article The Economic Megaworry [4] published in
Newsweek magazine in 2007. Mr. Sameulson is an opinion writer for the Washington Post and
writes a weekly column for Newsweek. I would like you to read this article carefully (it is
required!).Try to understand why we all should be worried about sustaining growth in productivity,
regardless of the economic sector.
Agricultural productivity growth was above average in large lower and
middle-income countries in 1990-2006.
Country

1990 GDP
per captia1

2005 GDP
per captia2

GDP per capita


growth rate,
1990-2006

2005 international dollars

Agricultural total
factor productivity
growth, 1990-2006

Percent

China

1,123

4,105

8.40

3.50

Colombia

4,943

5,910

1.50

2.40

India

1,185

2,225

4.20

1.60

Indonesia

2,089

3,212

3.20

1.90

Mexico

9,155

11,459

1.70

2.60

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U.S.
World
average

31,630

41,774

1.75

1.79

8,501

11,239

1.60

1.50

(149 countries)

(172 countries)

(149
countries)

(149
countries)

Note: GDP - gross domestic product. an international dollar is a hypothetical


currency that is used as a means of translating and comparing costs from one
country to another using a common reference point the U.S. dollar.
1
2

3-year average, 1989-91


3-year average, 2004-06

Source: USDA Economic Research Service using the World Bank's World
Development indicators, 2008; and "Total Factor Productivity In the Global
Agricultural Economy: Evidence from FAO Data" by Keith Fugile, In the Shifting
Patterns of Agricultural Production and Productivity Worldwide, 2008.

Now what about agricultural productivity? It is interesting that 100 years ago just under half
(41%) of all Americans were farmers. In the last 100 years improvements in efficiency of
agricultural production have reduced the percentage of Americans living on farms to about 2%,
and only half of those list farming as their primary occupation (http://www.epa.gov/... [5]). So we
have less than 2% of our population feeding the other 98%. This is a record of productivity
growth that we can all be proud of.
CONTINUE TO NEXT PAGE
Links:
[1] http://www.fao.org
[2] http://www.oxfam.org/en/about
[3] http://www.sciencetime.org/blog/?page_id=213
[4] https://elearning-ag.vmhost.psu.edu/courses/ansc100/sites/edu.courses.ansc100/files/pdfs/Economic_Megaworry-1.pdf
[5] http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/ag101/demographics.html

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Agricultural Efficiency and the Land Grant University Mission


Much of this increase in agriculture efficiency has some connection to Dear Old State and other
universities and colleges like us! Penn State is one of a number of Land Grant universities
whose mission was established by the Morrill Act of 1862 signed into law by President Abraham
Lincoln. The Morrill Act was An Act donating public lands to the several States and [Territories]
which may provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts (Our
Documents [1]). The states then sold this land and used the proceeds to establish Land Grant
colleges and universities. In 2011, our country celebrated the 150 year anniversary of the Morrill
Act. And we should celebrate, because their impact on agricultural efficiency has been
tremendous.
Land Grant universities and colleges have educated generations of students who might not
otherwise had been able to afford a college education at private colleges or universities. In
addition, they have conducted original research to improve agriculture (among other fields).
Additional acts of Congress, including the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, enhanced the mission of
the Land Grants. The Smith Level Act had as its goal to inform citizens of the newest
developments in agriculture and home economics, by establishing the system of Cooperative
Extension. You may have heard of Cooperative Extension or just Extension because the
Extension Service exists in some form or another in most counties in Pennsylvania and
throughout the country. Extension agents are employed by the university and are tasked with
keeping the public informed about the latest advances in agriculture. In recent years the mission
of extension has grown beyond just agriculture and home economics and is embedded
throughout the entire university; we call this Outreach. So, now you see the tripartite mission of
the Land Grant Universities and colleges:
1. affordable education for all citizens (teaching);
2. original research contributing new knowledge (research) and
3. transmitting this knowledge to the citizens of the state, nation and world
(Outreach/Extension).
So with this brief history of the Land Grant institutions like Penn State, lets see how they have
contributed to the challenge of feeding the world.
One way to look at the effects of improvement in agricultural efficiency is to see how it has
affected the way we have spent our money over time. I am talking, of course, about consumer
spending. It is the biggest driver of economic activity in the country, so, as consumer spending
goes, so goes the economy. Now, lets see if we can find evidence for an impact of increased
efficiency- total factor productivity- on the way we spend our money.

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Percentage Distribution of
Consumer Spending in the U.S.
in 1901

In a publication titled 100 Years of Consumer Spending [2] (USDA ERS), economists with the
Department of Agriculture reported statistics on how the average U.S. family spent its money in
the year 1901 (about 110 years ago). You will remember references to this report on the
Samuelson article you just read. If you would like to read the entire article, you can but it is not
required.
When we look at consumer spending, we can break it down into broad categories. These
categories are compared over 100 years of U.S. history in this report. Figure 4 shows that three
main categories accounted for the bulk of consumer spending in 1901: Housing (23.3%),
Clothing (14.0%) and Food (42.5%). So food, clothing and shelter took up the bulk of the budget
back in 1901. This left just slightly over 20% of the budget available for all other activities
(savings, education, entertainment, philanthropy, etc). It is pretty clear that the average American
family in 1901 [3] spent most of its money on food.

Percentage Distribution of
Consumer Spending 2002-3

Figure 5 shows this same average U.S. family 100 years later in 2002-3. In that year, the
percentage of income a family spent on food dropped to right around 13%; the amount spent on
clothing also decreased while housing costs increased a bit. The result of this tremendous
reduction in the cost of food was that the average family in 2002 [4] had more than double the
discretionary spending (savings, investment, entertainment, education, charity etc) of a family in
1901. With fewer families farming and more wealth, our country rocketed forward in terms of
economic development. Education, innovation and home ownership all increased. Our country
became the number one economy in the world. What in agriculture drove this increase in
efficiency? Well, I already mentioned a big contributor, the Land Grant colleges and universities.
They developed and refined agricultural practices and then, through the Extension service,
transmitted that knowledge to farmers all over the country. In addition, we educated students that

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went back to family farms and put their new knowledge to good use making farms more efficient
and profitable.

So, there were tremendous changes in agriculture during this 100 year period and many of these
stemmed from new knowledge developed at Land Grant universities. By the way, did you know
that Penn State and Michigan State were the first two Land Grants chartered in the U.S. , as
shown to the right? During this time our country matured through the mechanical revolution and
benefited from new tools and machines like tractors and the mechanical hay bailer that made
farm work less arduous (if only a bit!). Agriculture then moved through the chemical revolution
with the development of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides that increased yields
tremendously and improved the quality of our food. Finally, during the last 40 years, agricultural
went through the genetic or green revolution where advances in plant and animal breeding along
with more precise genetic manipulations and increased use of biotechnologies improved crop
and animal performance and agricultural efficiency.

I would be remiss, at this point, if I did not pause to tell you about one Land Grant scientist who is
credited with playing a large role in the green revolution. This is a shining example of the role that
science and research have played in agricultural efficiency. Who is this great person? you ask.
Would it help if I told you he was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1970 and is credited with
saving millions of lives world-wide with his work on crop genetics and production systems? That
scientist is Dr. Normal Borlaug, and you should remember his name and his contributions. You
would be hard pressed to find a scientist anywhere who has done so much for so many. I would
like you to view a brief video trailer (below) about Dr. Borlaugs work. Pay particular attention to
the passion with which he describes his lifes work. We will need another generation of scientists,
teachers, farmers and citizens with the same passion if we are to meet the challenges of feeding
the growing world population. Perhaps you will find this passion in yourself.

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Lets summarize what we have learned in this lecture. One hundred years ago almost half of the
U.S. population was engaged in farming and the typical family spent 43% of its income one food.
Today less than 2% of our population lives on farms and families spend less than 15% of their
income on food. That savings has gone to improve our quality of life, to invest in education,
science and technical innovation, to provide a social safety net and support the arts; basically, to
provide us with the high quality of life we all enjoy. If you doubt this, do this experiment. Look at
your budget and put aside about 50% for food (like in 1901). Now, pay for housing, transportation
and clothing. How much do you have left? Pretty scary? In a nutshell, feeding the world while
continuing to enjoy a high quality of life is going to depend on continued growth in total factor
productivity or efficiency of agricultural production. The increased production needed to feed the
world in 2050 will come from roughly the same amount of agricultural lands and it is going to rely
on science and technology. How will we accomplish this? Well, in the next lecture Dr. Etherton
will tell you how and give you some present day examples. He will be discussing the topic of the
impact of science and biotechnologies on agricultural production.
The problems to be resolved
Will we be able to produce enough food at affordable prices or will rising food prices drive
more of the world's population into poverty and hunger?
How much spare capacity in terms of land and water do we have to feed the world in 2050?
What are the new technologies that can help us use scarce resources more efficiently,
increase and stabilize crop and livestock yields?
Are we investing enough in research and development for breakthroughs to be available in
time?
Will new technologies be available to the people who will need them most - the poor?
How much do we need to invest in order to help agriculture adapt to climate change, and
how much can agriculture contribute to mitigating extreme weather events?
CONTINUE TO NEXT PAGE
Links:
[1] http://www.ourdocuments.gov/

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[2] http://www.bls.gov/opub/uscs/report991.pdf
[3] https://elearning-ag.vmhost.psu.edu/courses/ansc100/sites/edu.courses.ansc100/files/course_images/table5.png
[4] https://elearning-ag.vmhost.psu.edu/courses/ansc100/sites/edu.courses.ansc100/files/course_images
/table2lesson1.png

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This discussion revolves around the fact the world population is going to grow dramatically in the next
30 to 40 years. This population increase will place great pressure on producing sufficient food for the
population. Next, I will talk about the very important role that science and technology will play as part
of the solution, and I will focus on the plant and animal biotechnology successes that we've witnessed
over the last 20 years. Lastly, I will talk about threats to developing scientific solutions (biotechnology
solutions) for feeding the growing world population.

First its important to appreciate what the food system is. When you go to the grocery store, you see
thousands of items there. Many people really don't think very much about how all of the food got to
that distribution point.
The entire food system starts with commodity production - that is planting the seeds or growing the
animals that will eventually become food. This chart shows that commodities flow through the process
of development and enhancement. A product is developed and enhanced by food processors. So, for
example, a potato that's produced on a farm in Idaho can be sold as fresh potato, as mashed
potatoes, sliced potatoes, french fries, or potato chips. Food distribution then takes place and allows
all these products to get to grocery stores across the country. An average grocery store in the United
States sells about 23,000 to 40,000 items. The next component in the food system is distribution to
retailers and restaurants where consumers in developed countries avail themselves of this wonderful
bounty.

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This chart from the United Nations Population Division shows that the world population is growing
rapidly. Currently there are about 7.1 billion people in the world and projections are that by 2050 this
will increase to somewhere between 8 and 10 billion. My guess is that well witness a population
growth to about 10 billion individuals. How are we going to feed these extra folks? Who's going to pay
for the development and technology that will be needed?

The challenge that the global village is confronting is related to the following points below:
Population
2013: 7.1 billion
2050: 9.5 billion
Cultivable Crop Land per capita
0.45 ha. in 1966
0.25 ha. in 1998
0.15 ha. in 2050
Malnutrition/Poverty (2007)
923 million people suffer from hunger/malnutrition (up 75 million) 1.3 billion afflicted by
poverty
CHALLENGE --- Increase food production sustainably on same crop land area of approx 1.5
billion hectares by 2050
The challenge that the global village confronts is related to the following points. I just discussed the
fact that the world population is going to grow dramatically. This has huge ramifications on the amount
of cropland available for food production on a per capita or per person basis. That number will drop
dramatically. In fact it is already decreasing. For example, in 1966, 0.45 hectares per person were
available for crop production. Projections are that in 2050 well have about 0.15 hectares per person.
So it's obvious that as the land available for food production decreases while population growth takes
place, that well have to produce more food per unit of farm ground. To do this will require what I refer
to as improved productive efficiency. From a plant production standpoint, this means that well have
to produce more corn per acre, more soybeans per acre, or more apples per tree. In the case of
animal agriculture it means that we need to produce more lean, edible meat or muscle protein per unit
of food consumed by the meat animal. In dairy cows it pertains to producing more milk per unit of feed
consumed.

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One of the challenges that we currently face in the global village is that there are about 900 to
hundred million to 1 billion people that suffer from hunger and malnutrition. While many of us live in
developed countries and have an abundance of available food at the grocery store, about 1 billion
people don't have that luxury. This raises an enormous question: If we have this many people now,
how are we going to feed a burgeoning population going forward? That's a daunting question and it's
really a topic that could be discussed in an entire class. So the challenge that we confront is to
increase food production sustainably on the same cropland area that we presently have - which will
be about 1.5 billion hectares by 2050.

There's been a lot of discussion about how much food will be needed in the future. I have calculated
an estimate of what food production needs are. For more information you can go to PSU Animal
Science Blogs [1], this will take you to my blog. In the blog, I talk about the assumptions I made. By
2050 we will need about 14.3 trillion pounds of food per year. Currently the world produces about 9.9
trillion pounds. (What is a trillion? That's a big number thats very hard to get your head wrapped
around. One illustration is that one trillion seconds would be 32 thousand years.)
So the question is how are we going to do this? My view is that we need to devote more resources to
increase science (all scientific fields) in order to develop new technologies that will enhance food
production efficiency. You might ask Beyond producing food, why is this important? Well from a food
security standpoint, it's really important. Food security is simply producing enough food to meet
nutrient needs of the population. If we don't produce enough food for the population, then you can ask
the question What happens?
Can we have national security in the absence of food security? The answer is no. Please appreciate
that the current food system is very robust and that we produce a lot of food in the United States,
however, the food production system is very vulnerable. There are ways that it could be greatly
hampered by an animal disease or plant disease, that could lead to a shortfall in food production. Just
think what would happen if you went to the grocery store and about half of the shelves were empty.
People would likely frantically hoard food and societal norms as we know them would be dramatically
different. A food crisis would be a recipe for rebellion and political upheaval.

So it's clear that food security is key to global peace. This is not widely appreciated fact. In fact, Franz
Fishler, candidate for Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization said: Food security
is becoming more and more an issue of national security. Many countries don't have food security or
sufficient food security and that poses considerable threats relative to their national security. Hungry
populations are unstable populations from a political standpoint. Wars tend to erupt when people are
hungry.
So to summarize, the issue is: how are we going to feed the world in 2050? Here are the key
challenges: we need to feed 9 to 10 billion people, feed them better and more nutritious food, keep in
mind that we've got a lot of malnourished and hungry peoples, how are we going to feed them? How
are we going to get the food to those populations? Who's going to pay for it? Those are all very large
questions.
Here are some further obstacles to producing enough food in the future. In addition to producing
crops that are used for human consumption, there is a growing market and interest in producing
feedstocks for a huge bioenergy market. The bioenergy markets consume a substantial amount of

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grain that could be used for food or animal feed. For example producing corn for ethanol production is
common in many developed countries. This is inefficient and incredibly inappropriate given the
pressing needs for food. Hopefully in the next few years some of this grain will be freed up as the
result of ethanol being produced from cellulose contained in plants and trees and grasses rather than
using feed crops. As we go forward, were going to have to come up with food production strategies
that contribute to worldwide economic development and poverty reduction.
Geopolitical strife occurs all the time in the world. This affects both food production and distribution.
Were going to have to deal with a scarce resource base and shift to more sustainable production
methods. Id just like for you to think about the following: we have a growing population, we need to
produce more food, AND we have climactic conditions that may not be ideal for food production (ever
hear of global warming?). So with all those constraints, the challenge of feeding the world is an
incredibly large one. In addition, we have to feed people in a way that has minimal impact on climate
change.

I just summarized some of the factors that affect food production. I'd like to present them in a more
succinct manner. We talked about climate. Obviously we need favorable climactic conditions. I don't
think anybody wants to destroy more rain forest or wildlife habitats in order to grow more soy beans or
corn, so there is a reality that we cant put more farm ground into production. As for geo-political strife,
that's ever present. In many poverty-stricken countries, a poor food distribution system is the root
cause that contributes to malnutrition. In the United States, the science infrastructure is under attack
by some. For example, there is not sufficient funding to conduct discovery research (research that
discovers the next new idea that could be developed into a product or technology thats sold that
some way increases food production capacity). We also have the ever-present reality that there can
be plant and animal disease outbreaks either intentional or unintentional. The foot and mouth
disease outbreak in England is a good example of a virus that had a huge impact. That was an
unintended outbreak - that is we don't think anybody intentionally released the virus. But there are
examples of some terrorist groups developing technologies and using pathogens, both plant and
animal, as a strategy for impeding food production. Finally, it is important to consider consumer
demands and attitudes. Many consumers want to have a huge selection of food. However, the
process of developing new agricultural technologies is a time consuming and burdensome task. For
example, with animal biotechnology products, it takes about 10 to 15 years from product or
technology discovery to mainstream application. This is important because if were going to adopt
science and biotechnology as a way to feed the world, we aren't going to be able to wait until the year
2049 and throw the switch and have the solution by the next year. Especially since it takes 10 to 15
years to develop and implement new technologies for production agriculture.

The role of science then is to develop new biotechnologies that increase food production efficiency.
Another strategy that can be very helpful is to develop a strategy to reduce food wastage. You recall
in an earlier slide, I said that food production is about 9 trillion pounds per year and it needs to
increase to 14 trillion pounds per year. Well that's about a 30 to 40% increase. So one strategy that's
been discussed is to find ways to reduce waste in the food system from farm to fork. Waste is
currently estimated at about 30 to 40% of total food produced. However, reducing food waste is a
huge challenge. A lot of products perish before they get to the table. In addition, many people in
developed countries eat a lot more calories and nutrients than they need. Witness the obesity and
overweight epidemic in the United States. I don't think that were going to come up with a law that
mandates people to eat fewer calories and thereby spare food for hungry people. However, food

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wastage is a huge challenge and, realistically, I don't know that were going to be able to reduce food
wastage very much.

Biotechnology helps farms be more productive and efficient in lots of ways. In the plant realm,
biotechnology helps farmers use fewer chemicals on their crops to keep weeds and insects at bay. It
helps make land use more efficient, - that is farmers produce more food per acre or hectare. We will
discuss this more later, but biotechnology is very sustainable and helps preserve the resources. For
example, some genetically enhanced crops have been developed that are much better at surviving
and thriving during drought conditions than classically bred field crops.
Biotechnology has huge impacts on productive efficiency of animals as well. Theres a technology
called bovine somatotropin that increases the quantity of milk produced by dairy cows by about 10 to
15 pounds per day. And there are a lot of technologies that are being developed that will increase the
percentage of valuable nutrients found in corn, soybeans, and animal products. One example is a
product that enhances the level of omega-3 fatty acids in animal products. Omega-3s are fatty acids
that have demonstrated beneficial effects on human health.

There are a number of folks that have the perception that there are very few approved agricultural
biotechnology products. Here's a list of some. As you can see that there are biotech varieties of
squash, biotech rice, tomatoes, soybeans, alfalfa, potatoes. The numbers beneath the crop name
signify a separate biotechnology approved to help with production efficiency, flavor, disease
resistance, pest resistance, or processing characteristics of those crops. The point is there are
dozens and dozens of plant products that have been approved for use. On the animal side, youll note
that there are relatively few approvals. One that is of particular interests is Posilac, which is
recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST). This is technology that was approved by use in the United
States in 1993 and is administered to dairy cows every two weeks. This is a naturally occurring
protein hormone and it increases milk production by about 10 to 15 pounds. And its been widely
adopted in the United States.
Canola
23-18-17, 23-198
GT200
GT73, RT73
HCN10
HCN92
MS1, RF1=>PGS1
MS1, RF2=>PGS2
MS8xRF3
OXY-235
T45(HCN28)

Cotton
15985
19-51A
281-24-236, 3006-210-23
31807/31808
BXN
DAS-21?23-5xDAS-24236-5
LLCotton25
MON1445/16998, MON531/757/1-76
MON88913

Soybeans
A2704-12, A2704-21
A5547-127
G94-1, G94-19, G168
GTS 40-3-2
GU262
W62, W98

Corn
176
676, 678, 680
BL(DLL 25)
BT11 (X4334CBR,x4734CBR)
CBH-351

Dairy
Chymoge
Posilac Recombinant Bovine
Somatotropin (rbST)
ChyMax

Tomatoes
1345-4
351-N
5345, 8338
B,Da,F
FLAVR SAVR

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DAS-06275-8
DAS-59122-7
DBT418
GA21
MON8100, MON802,
MON809
MON810, MON863,
MON88017
MS3, MS6
NK603
T14, T25, TC507

Papaya
55-1/63-1
Potatoes
ATBT04-6
SPBT02-7
BT6, BT10, BT12,
RBMT15-101
SEMT15-15
RBMT22-082

Rice
LLRICE06
LLRICE62
LLRICE601
Squash
CZW-3
ZW20
Alfalfa
J101, J163

Center for Environmental Risk Assessment [2]


CONTINUE TO NEXT PAGE
Links:
[1] http://blogs.das.psu.edu/tetherton/2011/06/27/how-much-food-will-the-world-need-in-2050/
[2] http://www.cera-gmc.org/?action=gm_crop_database

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Further evidence that shows how widely adopted biotechnology has been in agriculture is shown
in this chart from ISAAA [1]. (If you Google ISAAA, you can find lots of information about a variety
of biotech crops.) As you can see, the acreage planted to biotech crops has increased
dramatically since 1996. Its been growing at a rate that exceeds 10% per year. You can see that
industrial, developed countries like the United States, Australia, and Western Europe have
adopted biotechnology to a large degree. But there are also a number of developing countries
that have adopted the technology. Currently there are 23 countries in the world that have
approved genetically enhanced or biotech crops for planting in their country. Thats just
remarkable.

Im going to talk a bit about the consumer ecosystem. The underlying discussion pertains to the
following question: We can develop technologies and new biotechnologies that benefit
agriculture but if they are not accepted by consumers, are they going to be successful? Well, the
answer to that is no. That is, for any product to be successful it has to be purchased and used by
consumers. With respect to plant and animal biotechnologies, there are some organizations that
try to scare consumers about the safety of food produced using biotechnology. For example, Im
sure many of you have heard about GMOs, or Frankenfoods. This name is designed to scare
consumers by using media campaigns are based on misinformation. The fact that these
campaigns gain any traction with consumers is simply a failure of the scientific community to

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communicate with consumers to educate them about the benefits and safety of biotechnologies.
Consumer education can be very challenging as youll see in my subsequent discussion.

This photo is a collage of various book titles and images that leads one to think: Geez it appears
as if conventional animal agriculture is under siege. A few years ago a New York Times editorial
Which Cows do you Trust? pertained to a debate over the use of rBST in dairy cows. There
was an article in the Wall Street Journal Udder Madness. You can see some other images here.
FactoryFarming.com - Isnt that just lovely? It gives the image that there are these farms that are
polluting the universe and are being managed in a way where animal welfare is not at the top of
the consideration list. The fact is that the vast, vast majority of farmers keep the welfare of their
animals as the top priority. They go to great effort to produce animals in a very humane fashion. If
you were relying on animals to produce your livelihood, wouldnt you? Crop farmers go to great
extents to show that their production practices are sustainable. The last thing they want to do is
have a production practice that does not sustain their business or enterprise. So the word
sustainable is a very interesting word and has many definitions to many different people.
Agriculture in the true sense has been sustainable in society. We've been doing it for tens of
thousands of years. If we couldn't, it wouldnt be sustainable.

One of the images is from Rutters Dairy, in southern Pennsylvania that touts Our cows produce
milk naturally. Well what does that mean? I don't know of any cow that produce milk unnaturally,
do you? And you see other images that are designed to scare people. Milk: The Deadly Poison.
Theres another one: Hormone-free milk. Well there's no such thing as hormone-free milk. In
fact, every food you eat from cucumbers to soybeans to animal products contain zillions of
different molecules or chemicals including a lot of naturally occurring protein hormones and
steroid hormones. For example, soybean oil is loaded with a steroid hormone called
phytoestrogens. But these titles create the idea that there must be something that's a problem.
Does the word Farmageddon convey something thats positive or negative? I think it's designed

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to create the impression that something is negative.


Signs and labels like these lead to further challenges in the market space relative to food
marketing. When you go to the grocery store you can see an amazing array of labels: pastureraised, cage-free, free range, hormone-free, grass-fed. The USDA organic label is quite popular.
Chipotle, a fast food restaurant, runs a number of advertisements. One says Get Pork from
Farmers not Factories. Now what do you suppose thats intended to convey? Well my
interpretation is that they want you to think that there are factories that produce pigs by the
millions, but are not really concerned about the welfare of the pigs. The message is that if you go
to Chipotle you get pork from a real farmer not from these other factory farms. This is absolute
nonsense!!

I'd like to talk about some smoke and mirrors marketing campaigns that go on in the food aisle at
the grocery store. This example pertains to the dairy case. In many instances you can go to the
grocery store and be confronted with 3 general choices. One is what I call conventionally
produced milk - its not differentially labeled and has no claim on it. The second example is
organic milk, which is labeled as organically produced. The third product choice is rBST-free milk,
which is milk from cows that have not been administered recombinant bovine somatotropin
(rBST), a biotechnology-derived protein hormone. The interesting thing here is that all milk
contains bovine somatotropin. All cows naturally produce BST and, when you administer rBST to
a cow, it does not increase milk levels of BST. In fact the best scientists in the world cant
differentiate between milk from cows administered rBST and those that havent had it. So you
can see the rBST-free label creates some confusion. Is there any difference between
conventional and rBST milk? Is conventionally produced milk better than BST-free or organic
milk? Some consumers view organic and rBST-free milk as better and safer. For sure both cost
a lot more. To answer these questions, theres a lot of scientific evidence to say that theres no
difference in nutrient content between organic and conventionally produced milk. Chemically, its
all the same stuff. Biologically, its all equally safe. Nutritionally, it all contains the same nutrients.
So the perception that organic and rBST-free milk is better is simply driven by marketing, not
facts based on the scientific evidence base.

Just to give you an example about my previous comment about the health effects of organic
foods, there was paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010. The
authors reviewed 98,700 papers that dealt with some aspect of nutritional or health effects in
organic foods, and found 12 studies that were relevant or qualified. That is that they met the
criteria for being included in this analysis. This is a lot of data. And what they concluded is that,
from an extensive systematic review of the currently available published literature, evidence is
lacking for nutritionally-related health effects that result from the consumption of organically
produced foodstuffs. So theres no health effect derived from consuming organic foods versus
conventionally produced foods. This also has been evaluated from a standpoint of nutrient
content or nutrient quality. This is another paper published in the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition. (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is the leading human clinical nutrition journal
in the world.) This paper looked at the effects of organic food production on the nutrient content
or nutrient quality. The authors concluded that theres no evidence of any difference in nutrient

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quality between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs. Even so, a lot of people go
buy organic food because they think its healthier, better, safer. Thats not the case.
Now you might wonder Whats this all about? How can this be? Well there are a lot of things
that play out in the market space. This is very much a marketing campaign where words are just
shot at each other where some say this technology and product is better than that one or this
will kill you if you eat it or this ones better for you, its healthier. And based on some survey
data, at least some consumers believe the marketing and purchase the higher-priced product. Its
really complicated and difficult to communicate science, and it has historically been
communicated very poorly by the scientific community. Many folks have had a poor scientific
experience in a high school or college science class, so its a topic they choose to avoid. I dont
think any of you would be sitting at your dinner table tonight talking about quantum mechanics
and how that science would benefit society. The responsibility for clear communication rests
clearly a scientific community where many scientists prefer to go do science and talk to scientists
rather than get in front of a TV camera and talk about something thats very technically
demanding to discuss in a 30 second TV clip. So the confusing descriptions of science make it
easy to manipulate public opinion about science for anyone that has a political agenda. And
there are a lot of groups out there that have political agendas. PETA is one, the Humane Society
of the United States is another. A number of these groups have the intent to scare the public by
avoiding or manipulating the science and scientific application to agriculture. For example, one
safe way to eliminate the potential for E. coli contamination in meat products is to use irradiation.
Irradiation is very, very effective in reducing the presence of bacteria or pathogens on food
products. However, the public has been made to believe that if you eat irradiated food, youre
eating little nuclear bombs and youre going to get radiation poisoning. Thats absolute
nonsense. But nonetheless, that reality is there.

In addition to avoiding confusing science, many consumers have a poor grasp of basic biological
concepts. There has been a lot of survey work to look at the scientific knowledge base of
different populations. In the United States, for example, the National Science Foundation
conducts a survey of scientific knowledge. In their last survey, they had a survey instrument that
contained 20 true/false questions. One of those questions was the center of the earth is hot.
Well a surprising number of college graduates missed that question - which I find remarkable.
(By the way, the center of the earth IS hot!) Thats an illustration of how some folks really dont
have a very good scientific background. Likewise, they have a very poor understanding of the
food system.
The following three points are compiled from a number of surveys that Ive read and analyzed.
1. Only about half of consumers have heard of traditional crossbreeding methods. The fact is
that everything thats a plant product in the grocery store, whether thats green beans, lima
beans, or peas, is a result of hundreds of years of crossbreeding.
2. Only 20% of respondents say that they have eaten a crossbred fruit or vegetable. This is
remarkable because you cant find anything thats not a crossbred fruit or vegetable in the
grocery store.
3. 34% of consumers indicate that there are any foods produced by biotechnology and
supermarkets. The fact is that there are a vast, vast number of products available for sale
in the grocery store that are derived from biotechnology. For example, virtually all the

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cheese thats produced is produced using recombinantly produced chymosin, an enzyme


that promotes milk curdling and is important for the cheese-making process.

I would like to talk a little bit more about some survey data. Some in society have the impression
that theres a great concern about animal biotechnology. These data are from a 2008 survey
conducted by the International Food Information Council, located in Washington DC.
The question that was presented was: How much have you read or heard about applying the
science of biotechnology to animals? Would you say youve heard.? And the respondents
filled in the blank. Now its important to appreciate that this survey was done in an open-ended
manner, where there was not a list of answers to select from. You can conduct surveys to get to a
pre-determined outcome. Thats a topic thats too long to discuss in this class but the point is that
open-ended questions are the best way to do a survey. You can see that in response about half
of the people (this is a population large enough to generalize to the U.S population) hadnt heard
anything about animal biotechnology. Only 5% had heard a lot, and 27% had heard a little. So
roughly 70-80% of the population has heard nothing at all or very little about animal
biotechnology in the food system and the application of animal biotechnology to producing foods
we eat. So what we have is some groups that are very vocal that are heard by a very small
portion of the population, but most people arent paying much attention. In fact most people are
making their food purchase decisions based on price and quality, not production practice.

Another question was posed: What, if anything, are you concerned about when it comes to food
safety? As you can see in the chart below, food biotechnology is only a concern for 1% of the
respondents. So essentially theres no concern about the use of food biotechnology when you go
talk to a cohort of consumers as reflective of the population in the United States. And you can
see their greatest concerns are disease contamination, this makes a lot of sense because of the
occasional food disease outbreak that gets covered by the media. And you see the list of other
things that are food safety concerns.
2008 2007 Change
Disease/contamination 50% 38%

+12%

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Handling/preparation 29% 31%

-6%

Food sources 13% 20%

-3%

Health/nutrition

8%

8%

---

Agricultural production

7%

8%

-1%

Preservatives/Chemicals

6%

9%

-3%

Packaging/labeling

3%

5%

-2%

Biotech

1%

1%

+1%

Processed foods

1%

1%

---

Other

2%

4%

-2%

CONTINUE TO NEXT PAGE


Links:
[1] http://www.isaaa.org/

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Another question was: Thinking about your diet over the past few months, are any foods or
ingredients that youve avoided or eaten less of? And you can see in 2008, 56% of the
respondents said yes, in 2007 it was about 61%, so yes they are. Its clear that Americans are
avoiding certain foods. A follow-up question is What foods are they avoiding?

Well you can see that people are avoiding foods that are high in certain nutrients. For example:
about half of the respondents are avoiding sugar or carbohydrates. About a third or 40% of the
population are avoiding foods that are high in fats, typically saturated fats and cholesterol. The
concern there is that some fats, specifically saturated fatty acids, are associated with increased
risk of chronic disease. You can see that some people are avoiding animal products, salts,
sodium, and it goes on and on. In the two years the survey was compiled, no one was avoiding
biotech foods. They didnt even make the list. So I think this illustrates that while you might have
the impression that theres a big public uproar about the use of biotechnology in food production,
consumers really arent concerned about it. Most of the uproar is generated by a small, but vocal
group of activists with political agendas.
Id like to talk a little bit about What is sustainable agriculture? This is a very interesting phrase
because the word sustainable has been hijacked. Some groups clearly think that their way of
doing sustainable is better than another sustainable method. The impression is that if you have a
small family farm, youre doing sustainable agriculture thats better than a larger family farm. Well
thats not the case. I mean if farms cannot be economically sustainable (make money), then that
farm owner cannot sustain the operation and they sell the farm and move on to do something
else. So the word sustainable has a very important component that isnt often recognized - thats

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economic sustainability. Regardless of size, a farm is a business its got to be run as a business.
It also has to be sustainable in the context of environmental considerations. These all are
components of sustainable agriculture.

Id like to talk a little bit about sustainability from a standpoint of an example using the beef
industry and what has played out after the adoption of technologies. In 1977, U.S. producers
made 603 pounds of meat per beef animal slaughtered. In 2007 it was up to 773 pounds, and
some estimates are that by 2027 well be able to produce about 892 pounds of beef per carcass.
So since 1977 weve really made dramatic strides in improving beef yield per animal and thats
largely been done through the application of science and technology.

Opportunities to further improve beef yield per animal may be limited


Id like to talk a little bit about sustainability from a standpoint of an example using the beef
industry and what has played out with the adoption of technologies. You can see in the box it
says 1977 we produced 603 pounds of beef per animal, that is per beef animal, and in 2013 it is
up to 804 and some estimates are that by 2027 well be able to produce about 892 pounds of
beef so since 1977 weve really made dramatic strides in improving beef yield per animal and
thats largely done through the application of science and technology.

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Source: USDA-NASS (2009) http://www.nass.usda.gov/Data_and_Statistics/Quick_Stats/ [1] Last accessed, 9/15/09

To put this in another context, in 1977 it took 5 animals to produce the same amount of beef as 4
animals in 2007. That reflects the fact that cattle being produced in 2007 grow much more rapidly
and produce much more lean meat. This reflects an improvement in economic efficiency as well
as environmental efficiency and sustainability. Id think youd agree that if you have 4 animals that
can produce the same amount of meat as 5, those 4 animals will produce less manure, and less
methane and CO2. So thats a huge impact and environmental benefit from a sustainability
standpoint.

Source: Capper , J. L. (2010). The Environmental Impact of Conventional, Natural and Grass-fed Beef Production Systems.
Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture Conference, Banff, Canada

Feedlot Beef Production + Technology Reduces Days on Feed and Resource


Use
Now to further the
discussion in context of
Pasture
conventionally produced,
Finishing diet
Corn-based
Corn-based
only
naturally produced, and
grass-fed cattle. These are
P-E Technology use
100%
0%
0%
different production systems.
Grass-fed cattle are put out
Average starting
42
42
42
in pasture only. Natural
wieght (lb)
cattle are fed corn-based
Average slaughter
diet without the use of any
1,254
1,129
1,071
weight (lb)
technologies. Conventionally
produced cattle are fed a
Carcass weight (lb)
800
714
615
corn corn-based diet with
Overall growth rate
technologies used to
3.84
3.15
1.30
(lb/d)
enhance productive
efficiency. You can see in
Birth to slaughter (d)
453
464
679
the graph that the baby
calves all start the same
weight. You can also see theres a big difference in average slaughter weight that corresponds to
a dramatic difference in carcass weight. (Carcass weight is how much of the carcass is available
Conventional Natural

Grass-fed

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after you remove the gastrointestinal tract). You can see theres an enormous difference in
growth rate. The cattle in the conventional production system where technology is being used to
promote growth gained 3.8 pounds each day. This reflects the fact that grass-fed cattle are
eating an inadequate diet and are growing much slower. So consequently it took them much,
much longer to go from birth to slaughter weight or slaughter age. So the conventionally
produced cattle took 453 days from birth to slaughter and in the grass-fed group took 679 days.
As youll see in the next figure, this has a big impact on some environmental outcomes. So in the
grass-fed system it takes about 1.54 animals to produce the 800-pound carcass of one
conventionally produced animal. So grass-fed takes 1.54 animals to produce the same amount of
beef as one conventionally fed animal. Thats remarkable.

*Animal refers to cows, calves, heifers, bulls, stockers and finishing animals
Source: Capper , J. L. (2010). The Environmental Impact of Conventional, Natural and Grass-fed
Beef Production Systems. Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture Conference, Banff,
Canada

Carbon Foodprints
Carbon dioxide and methane gasses are released into the atmosphere when we feed cattle.
Grass-fed cattle produce a lot more of these gasses during their lifespan and thats because they
grow slower and live longer. So they actually have a much bigger adverse impact relative to gas
emissions into the atmosphere.

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Source: Capper , J. L. (2010). The Environmental Impact of Conventional, Natural and Grass-fed Beef Production Systems.
Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture Conference, Banff, Canada; EPA (2009) Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon
Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 Through 2009

The car icons represent the number of cars equivalent for each systems carbon footprint per
800 lb carcass wt (EPA (2009) average CO2 emissions for cars and light trucks, 12,000
miles/year traveled)
The carbon footprint of grass-fed beef is increased primarily because of the increased number
of animals required to produce a set amount of beef, plus the increased days on feed. For each
day than an animal is alive, they use resources (feed, fossil fuels) and emit greenhouse gases
(methane, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide). More animals and more days on feed means
increased resource use and greenhouse gas emissions.
The difference between technology and natural systems is also due to the increased number of
animals and slight increase in days on feed for the natural system. In combination, this means
more feed, more greenhouse gases and a higher carbon footprint per carcass.
The carbon footprint includes:
methane from enteric fermentation;
methane and nitrous oxide from manure;
nitrous oxide from fertilizer application;
carbon dioxide from animals, fertilizer/pesticide manufacture and fossil fuel combustion

As you might expect with slower growing cattle consuming an inadequate diet, you need more
cattle to produce the same amount of food. This also has an impact on land use. Grass-fed beef
cattle require 4 acres more per head - a huge inefficiency. If we were to produce all grass-fed
cattle, not only would it produce more manure, methane and CO2, it would take a much larger
land base.

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Source: Capper , J. L. (2010). The Environmental Impact of Conventional, Natural and Grass-fed Beef Production Systems.
Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture Conference, Banff, Canada

We mentioned at the beginning of this talk that the food system is relatively fragile. One of the
huge potential threats is bioterrorism in agriculture. It really is a strategic economic warfare
approach. Just think if somebody sprinkled E. coli in the salad bar of several grocery stores in
your hometown and it was determined that there was a disease outbreak in the grocery store or
grocery stores. Would you be inclined to go buy food there? So it would have an impact on
where you shopped and would disrupt food supply and it would have an economic impact by
reducing sales. It would sure as heck scare the public! For example if you had repetitive
occurrences of some disease outbreak from food bought at your local grocery store, you would
be very fearful about buying food there. You as a consumer would be distressed, draw attention
to the cause and create lots of pressures on politicians about how are we going to fix the
problem. What are we going to do? This whole arena is something that is not discussed much. It
would be relatively easy for some terrorist group to release a pathogen that attacks crops or
animals used for food production. In a way Im very surprised that this hasnt happened.

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Bioterrorists targeting some sectors of agriculture could benefit from realities in the U.S and
many other countries where food production is geographically restricted. This is an example of
the dairy industry. You can see there are relatively few counties that produce milk. In fact, only 9
counties produce 25% of all the milk in the United States. Those are located in the south central
valley of California, there are a few counties in Arizona, and one county in Pennsylvania
(Lancaster County) thats involved. In addition, only 48 counties produce half of the fluid milk. If
there was some pathogen that affected dairy cows and that pathogen was intentionally released
in California and a few other counties, that would greatly, greatly impede milk production in the
United States. How you prevent that is very difficult. How you monitor what might be impending
attacks is remarkably difficult and its really not talked about in the open source literature. This is
something that is a great concern to security enterprises in the United States but its not really
something that the public perceives or thinks much about.
This gets to the end of my presentation. Ive talked about what biotechnology is, the food system,
the need for it, and what were going to do in the future and I close with this question about
where do we go? Do we support using science as one important strategy for increasing food
production in the world? If we dont do that, how are we going to feed the growing world
population? I dont know, but Id like you to consider this as you complete this course and look to
the future of food production over the next 45 years or so.
CONTINUE TO NEXT PAGE
Links:
[1] http://www.nass.usda.gov/Data_and_Statistics/Quick_Stats/

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For this disuccsion forum activity, you will post your answers by Friday at 11:55pm to the
following questions to Module 1: Introductions (Lessons Tab, Discussion Forums Folder,
Module 1: Discussion Forum folder).
1. Introduce yourself
2. Tell us where you are from
3. Tell us why you enrolled in this course
4. What is your major?
5. Tell us about your experiences with
Farm animals
Pets
6. Rate your knowledge of animal agriculture on a scale of 1 (no knowledge) to 10 (substantial
knowledge)
7. Tell us one of your favorite animal-related memories.

For this discussion forum activity, you will make your first post to the forum by Friday at
11:55pm to Module 1: Discussion Forum (Lessons tab, Discussion Forum folder).
In one of your Module 1 Forum Posts, define your expectations for this course after
reading the material discussed in Module 1?
You will then post at least two additional substantial and thoughtful questions in response to your
classmates, based on their answers they have provided by Sunday at 11:55pm. Students are
required to participate in class discussions. Higher levels of participation are certainly
encouraged and will create an improved class experience. Discussion forum posts must be
substantial and thoughtful.

After thorough review of this lesson, you will need to take the Module 1 Quiz (Lessons tab,
Quizzes folder).

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THIS CONCLUDES THIS MODULE...

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