16 October 2009
Australian farmers will be critical in securing the world's food supplies as shortages continue to grow, the Rudd Government said ahead of the United Nations World Food Day tomorrow.
World Food Day on 16 October each year marks the day the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations was founded in 1945.
The day focuses attention on agricultural food production, heightens public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world and highlights achievements in food and agricultural development.
The theme for World Food Day 2009 is: ‘Achieving food security in times of crisis’.
The FAO expects the world’s population to rise to 9.1 billion people in 2050, compared to current levels of 6.7 billion, which would require a 70% increase in global farm production.
“On the face of it, it’s an impossible equation - the only way we can meet what the world will demand is by following every possible path of scientific research,” Mr Burke said.
“The days of people closing their minds to areas of biotechnology for food production are numbered.
“I don’t see how anyone can mount a moral argument against genetically modified food when we’re facing these sorts of projections on global hunger.
“Genetic modification won’t be the only answer but we need to give farmers every possible tool given the gravity of the challenge.”
Australia is already a major food producer with total farm and fisheries production reaching $37.4 billion in 2007-08, including meat, dairy, grains, vegetables, oilseeds, sugar and seafood.
We export around two-thirds of the food we produce, including to Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, India and Papua New Guinea.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said Australia’s farming and seafood industries are world leaders in food production.
“There are many things people can survive without, but everyone needs to eat and Australian farmers are smarter at producing food than anyone else,” Mr Burke said.
“Our farmers have survived in often difficult conditions, boosting productivity while reducing water and pesticide use and our seafood industries constantly adopt new technology to reduce bycatch.”
The Government continues to invest in critical research to further boost productivity while helping producers adapt to climate change, including through Australia’s Farming Future.