Understanding of food production declines

Agriculture is being driven forward by genetic improvements and better cropping techniques. But lack of understanding of how food is produced has left many consumers scared of biotechnology and doubtful of food safety.

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This was according to Prof Louise Fresco, an expert in sustainable development from the University of Amsterdam. She was speaking at a lecture organised by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in Pretoria.

According to Fresco, the agricultural community was increasingly aiming to enhance nutrition through improved food quality and fortification in essential minerals and vitamins. “However many people are scared by biotechnology and food safety issues. Understanding of the urban populations of where food comes from and how it is produced is dwindling.

“While there are no technical reasons to doubt our capacity to feed the world population, challenges abound.

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“There are enough reasons to be optimistic about agriculture, but we have to open up the debate so that it is based on empirical, scientific findings rather than idealistic wishful thinking,” said Fresco.