Scientists call for further agricultural research
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A group of international influential scientists, led by Sir John Beddington, have written an article in Science magazine calling for scientists to produce more research around agriculture and climate change in the hopes that the next Climate Conference, in Qatar in November, will be informed by scientific evidence. One of the solutions being called for is “climate smart” agriculture, which includes both increasing the defence against adverse weather conditions and also increasing the carbon capture potential of agricultural land. If there was a carbon offsetting programme in place, then high polluting companies could end up funding these climate-smart procedures, and increasing revenues for small farms.
Potential solutions to food scarcity
There are also other, less conventional methods that are under consideration for the food plans of the future. In an article from the Observer, John Vidal highlights the potential for making use of algae for oil, to replace ethanol crops which will leave more room for traditional crops. This is seen as such a good solution because algae can also be used as a fertiliser or as animal feed. The article also pointed out that many insects are edible, and could play an important role in the future for food.
There have also been recent reports of the potential production of artificial meats made from stem cells, this would lead to much lower emissions, up to 96% less than keeping livestock. Research is being made into this area, with the first burger predicted to be made this way in 2012.
Impact on Agriculture Investing
Although some of these sound like radical solutions for the distant future, the problem is closer than you may think. In Bill Gates’ annual letter he notes the decrease in political interest in the issue of famine, the lack of money going into agricultural research and the problems this is causing in the developing world. This letter, the article in Science magazine, and many other initiatives, have hopes to reverse this trend, and see agriculture become more efficient, productive and resilient to climate change.
This demonstrates the continued potential of agriculture as a place for longer term investment - companies involved in making agricultural practices more efficient. However investors need to be careful as James Leaton points out in his article about 'Stranded Assets'. It is not a one way bet.