Perry Gustafson, a research geneticist with the Agriculture Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a professor of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia is the Chair of this Congress. He says that while little can be done to stop the earth’s population from growing, steps can be taken to add to the food supply.
“We can’t do anything with the population growth,” said Gustafson in an interview with the Missourinet. “But we can do something about the food supply. It’s very important that we feed 9 billion people and we understand how to feed 9 billion people on the same amount of land that we’re using now or less.”
Population growth experts believe the global population will hit the 9 billion mark by the year 2040. Gustafson says that by that time the world must produce more out of existing resources without further damaging our environment and our biodiversity.
“The key to this meeting is understanding plant molecular biology so that you can manipulate plants in order to produce more food, on less land, with less water, with less damage to the environment to feed 9 billion people.”
Once the symposium comes to a close, the scientists and other interested observers from around the world can be expected to head home to relay what they have learned.
“The key is for people to go to their homes or their own universities or companies and say, ‘Here’s what I’ve learned that we can use,'” said Gustafson. “It’s going to be different for every person, with the unifying theme (that) we’ve got to produce enough food to keep 8 to 9 billion people comfortable.”
The Congress runs through Friday at the America’s Center Convention Complex.