Grain Yield Increase – a Role for Genetic Modification?

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Abstract or Summary

There appears to be a general lack of awareness regarding the menace of continuing population growth and of the magnitude of the challenge of attaining food security in the forthcoming decades. The population equivalent of about one Germany (ca. 80 Mio) is currently being added to the planet annually, this unavoidably leading to a global human population of ca. 10 billion by 2050-70 (Gerland et al., 2014). Competing demands for agricultural products for non-food purposes exacerbate the situation. There is increasing demand for cereal grain and soybean for use as feed in livestock production, especially in countries with rapid economic growth that is accompanied by dietary change like, for instance, in China (Hansen and Gale, 2015). Additionally, substantial land is devoted to extensive oil palm plantations to satisfy diverse industrial demands. Additional competition for starch and vegetable oil relates to biofuel production: bioethanol and biodiesel. These three key forces – population growth, animal feed production, chemical raw material/energy production – are driving demand for agricultural products to unprecedented levels: numerous studies have shown that feeding a more populated and more prosperous world will require an approximate doubling of agricultural production by 2050 (Tilman et al., 2011).

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