Fifty years from now, a growing world population will require 100 percent more food than what we produce today.

Yes, we can devote more acres to food production, but just adding acres will not be enough, nor will it be environmentally sustainable in many cases.  The real solution, according to Rob Aukerman, an executive at Elanco Animal Health, is technology.

Technology is the answer to our current needs as well as those in the future, Aukerman told the Cornell Nutrition Conference in Syracuse, N.Y., on Thursday.

Yet, some people want to take some of that technology away and return to the “good old days.”  For example, certain activists have fought against genetically modified crops and the use of bovine somatotropin in dairy cattle.

“We have a lot of tools, and those tools are being taken from us one at a time,” he said.

The challenge here, according to Aukerman, is not to let a vocal minority make the decisions for the majority.

Market research has shown that only about 5 percent of the population chooses “lifestyle” foods, such as “organic” or “natural.”  The remaining 95 percent choose “conventional” foods, which are produced under modern, efficient and cost-effective methods.  

We have to be concerned about the 5 percent tipping the scale for the 95 percent, he said.

“Don’t let the voices of the minority dictate availability and affordability for the majority — that’s the battleground,” he said. 

And, it has already happened in the United Kingdom, he said. Since the enactment of restrictions (on agricultural technology) in the 1990s, the UK has gone from being a net exporter of food to a net importer. “If we are not careful, we are headed down the same path,” he added.

“The global food industry absolutely needs technology to meet current and future demand,” Aukerman said. The objective is to feed a hungry world.