ArticlesAgricultural Research

Food Production: Technology and the Resource Base

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Science  09 May 1975:
Vol. 188, Issue 4188, pp. 578-584
DOI: 10.1126/science.188.4188.578


Despite a growing population and increasing demands of that population for improved diets, it appears that the world is not close to universal famine (3, 53). There is enough food now produced to feed the world's hungry (54). That people are malnourished or starving is a question of distribution, delivery, and economics, not agricultural limits. The problem is putting the food where the people are and providing an income so that they can buy it.

As to the future, there are clouds on the far horizon. Only increased scientific and technological innovation, coupled with a change in human behavior and in national policy with regard to increased investments in agricultural research, can avert a growing food and population crisis. Only scientists develop new technology. Only farmers produce food. Motivation and incentives are important both for scientific discovery and food production.

Agricultural research is also a process. There is no finite beginning or end. It is a continuing search to unravel mysteries.

We must force the pace of agricultural development, but technology must be tailored to local conditions. Thiscan be done by scientists who also know how to farm. Individual dedication and sustained government commitments are important.

Rapidity of information transfer and of acceptance of technology is also crucial (55). There is a wide gap between progress in research and the point of application for human benefit (Table 5). What accounts for the vast time differences in rapidity of technology acceptance? The current avalanche of new knowledge coupled with problems of food, feed, and fiber supplies, and issues of availability, preservation, protection, renewability, and costs of resources should bring to the front the urgency of rapid information transfer and reassessment of information systems for agricultural and other renewable resources.