Global warming is destroying crops. Can it be stopped in time?

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) – As if rising sea levels and fiercer cyclones weren’t enough to worry about, the climate crisis is already cutting crop yields and could lead to widespread food shortages.

That’s the grave warning from the United Nations, which cautions that farmers may not meet a projected 50 per cent increase in demand by 2050 if greenhouse gas emissions stay high.

Stephanomics podcast host Stephanie Flanders turned to four leaders in global agriculture at Bloomberg’s New Economy Forum in Singapore for insight into how to feed almost 10 billion people, which is the projected population of the planet in three decades.

Technology will play a starring role, said Mr Werner Baumann, chairman of German healthcare and agricultural giant Bayer AG.

One Bayer project involves developing “short-stature” corn that resists stalk breakage and can be planted more densely.

Cargill Inc Chairman David MacLennan insisted genetically modified organisms must be part of the solution, though GMOs are a controversial component of modern agriculture with significant opposition.

Finally, the panelists had some ideas regarding a tweet from the world’s richest man, who has offered to put up US$6 billion (S$8.16 billion) if a UN official could prove the money would solve world hunger.

Ms Sara Menker, chief executive of agricultural analytics firm Gro Intelligence, suggests Mr Elon Musk’s money would be best spent creating a new financial institution to help modernise how many crops are traded.

More fundamentally, Mr Musk’s money could build roads and crop storage facilities so farmers in developing nations could more easily get their products to market, says Mr Alloysius Attah of Farmerline, which helps farmers embrace technology.

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