A New Roadmap for Feeding 9.7 Billion People, Sustainably
Words by 3P Editors
The global community will have to find a way to feed 9.7 billion people by 2050 in a warming, resource-constrained world. It will require a rethink and collaboration from those across the value chain, as demand for animal protein is only set to rise. The challenge is that agriculture is already cited as a top greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter and user of natural resources, with livestock alone producing about 14.5 percent of global GHGs. The industry will require science-based, purposeful solutions in order to lessen its footprint and sustainably produce enough nutritious protein for the growing population.
We all have a part to play to ensure our food supply is more nutritious, more sustainable and more efficient. New developments in animal nutrition are among the options that can help the food supply chain do its part to mitigate the risks of unchecked climate change such as GHG emissions. From novel, precision technologies to nutritional programs, a substantial difference can be made to the sustainability of the animal protein industry.
“For too long, sustainability has been someone else’s problem, a problem for tomorrow. But it is not an impossible challenge. We believe we can make animal farming sustainable. Our need is to be providing a decent living for farmers and affordable proteins to the world population, all while reducing the footprint of animal farming,” said Ivo Lansbergen, President, DSM Animal Nutrition and Health.
To that end, Switzerland- and Netherlands-based DSM, a global, purpose-led, science-based company active in nutrition, health and sustainable living, is tackling the many challenges facing the global food sector through science-based innovative solutions.
DSM is rooted in purpose, with a rich history in developing products to improve human and animal nutrition and health across the globe, and it has forged notable partnerships with global organizations and NGOs to improve sustainability in the food sector. Those relationships include work with the United Nations Food Program since 2007 to address hunger, involvement with the World Bank’s carbon pricing program to help advocate for a price on carbon and push investment in renewables, partnerships with industry experts such Blonk Consultants to create cutting-edge technology such as Sustell that enables farmers to measure and enhance the sustainability of their operations, and joint ventures like Veramaris that provides an alternative and more sustainable source of omega-3 EPA and DHA to the world’s growing aquaculture industry.
In August 2020, DSM’s animal nutrition and health business channeled that experience to launch a strategic initiative called We Make it Possible. At a high level, the initiative, which is aligned to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has set out to lead a worldwide transformation in sustainable animal protein production through tangible, actionable and measurable solutions that address the industry’s biggest challenges. The initiative is driven by six focus areas for improving the efficiency and sustainability of producing animal protein:
- Improving the lifetime performance of farm animals
- Improving the quality of food (i.e., meat, milk, fish, eggs), while reducing food loss and waste
- Reducing emissions from livestock
- Making efficient use of natural resources
- Reducing the reliance on marine resources
- Helping tackle anti-microbial resistance
Another approach to address a changing climate
One of the key points of DSM’s Animal Nutrition and Heath strategy is to tackle the interconnection of environmental footprints and animal nutrition and health, allowing farmers to better manage their environmental footprint and risk, while improving business performance and livelihoods. For example, globally growers lose 20 percent of their livestock annually to disease alone, at a cost of around $300 billion. Research from the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) shows that climate change can exacerbate livestock’s susceptibility to diseases. Meanwhile, over 800 million people across the globe go hungry daily.
Improving the robustness of farm animals and thereby reducing the incidence and impact of production disorders and diseases is a key aspect, and this usually begins with ensuring optimized nutrition fitting to the animals’ life stage and farming conditions. Livestock production efficiency can decrease by as much as 33 percent without proper nutrition and health management, which is addressed through the initiative’s Improving lifetime performance of farm animals’ sustainability platform.
“Meeting the rising demand for nutritious, affordable animal protein while remaining within planetary boundaries is crucial. Our science-based nutrition solutions enable the industry to produce more animal protein with greater efficiency, while at the same time reducing the impact on the environment,” said David Nickell, VP Sustainability and Business Solutions at DSM.
A societal risk for which there is no shortage of research, is anti-microbial resistance (AMR). The use and misuse, of antibiotics worldwide over many years in both human and animal health has been linked to the spread of AMR, which has quickly become the world’s most rapidly emerging public health threats. If left unchecked AMR could cause the death of 10 million people annually by 2050. Although a significant amount of the world’s antibiotics are used in animal farming, regulators, investors and leading farming companies are implementing change to reduce their use.
Over the last 15 years, DSM has been developing alternative solutions to reduce the use of antibiotics and to help tackle the issue of AMR. The company has become a leader in the field of eubiotics (feed additives) such as natural plant extracts, probiotics, prebiotics, organic acids and novel enzymes and continues to invest in new, next generation technologies to help the industry transition away from antibiotic use. The use of these nutritional ingredients has enabled change to happen across the industry, and has led to a decline in both the rate and use of antibiotics, thereby helping to reduce the incidence of AMR.
In the coming months, 3p and DSM will together take a closer look at the company’s global strategy that is tackling issues like climate change and food waste in order to support the rapidly growing population. We’ll review additional challenges facing food producers and explore various solutions to address them. Be sure to follow along with this series here.
This article series is sponsored by DSM Animal Nutrition and Health.
Images courtesy of DSM