There’s a Science
to feeding the world
There is no question that we face daunting challenges in feeding the world today—challenges that
will get only more daunting in the decades to come.
But DuPont—and its collaborators across the food chain—are optimistic, as scientific
innovations have already significantly enhanced the quality and quantity of food production.
These contributions include:
• Maximizing the yield potential of seeds – even in harsh conditions;
• Keeping crops pest-free and disease-free;
• Enhancing the nutritional value of staple foods;
• Detecting contamination before it causes sickness; and
• Reducing waste by packaging food to protect it from contaminants and decay.
Through the scientific method–research, application of prior knowledge and innovation–
mankind has the capacity to address the food crisis, if only the global community can also find
the will to address the political, economic, trade, infrastructure and regulatory issues that will also
play a critical role in achieving food security.
DuPont sees the achievement of global food security and safety by 2050 as a mission built upon
• Science is universal, but solutions are local: Although science provides universal answers,
solutions must be local, due to wide variations in a number of environmental factors,
including climate, soils and pests, as well as cultural traditions and issues surrounding
• Collaboration unlocks answers: Solutions must be collaborative—reached in concert with
farmers, communities, local businesses, governments and NGOs who know the “facts on
the ground,” and with global corporations with specialized expertise to help solve specific
• Science must become local wisdom: Know-how must be brought to the people and places
that need it most. Working side-by-side with the population in education and outreach
efforts transfers knowledge to the communities who need it to secure their futures.
• Solutions must be sustainable in the broadest sense of the word: The food supply must
continually expand, while also considering social, economic and ecological factors such as
infrastructure, storage and waste and improving and preserving water quality.
DuPont collaborations in agriculture, nutrition, food protection, packaging and biosciences
provide guidance for future efforts to increase food security and safety all over the world.
Looking forward to 2050
The Advisory Committee on Agricultural Innovation and Productivity for the 21st Century,
convened by DuPont and chaired by former U.S. Senator Tom Daschle, has reported that the
food security challenge facing mankind is three-fold. We must:
• Produce more food and increase the nutritional value of food;
• Make food accessible and affordable for people; and
• Address the challenge in a continuously more sustainable and comprehensive way.
The applied science of DuPont and its collaborators has already made great strides in meeting
the challenge by:
• Developing soy supplements to make protein available and affordable;
• Producing higher yield varieties of corn and rice;
• Helping producers meet environmental standards;
• Protecting the integrity of the food supply through pathogen detection and packaging; and
• Working directly with farmers to improve agricultural practices.
This application of science—done in very specific ways, tailored to each location and practiced from
the research lab to the rice paddy—is the key to meeting the challenges articulated by the DuPont
Advisory Committee. That is why 60% of the total research and development budget at DuPont is
devoted to unlocking innovations in food, agriculture and biotechnology.
The successful application of science to achieving food security and safety will above all require
a complete commitment to collaboration all along the food chain—from field to table—and
must include those individuals and organizations with the power to make the world more secure
politically and socially, including national and regional governments, NGOs, manufacturers, high
technology firms and others.
Because, quite simply, feeding the world is everyone’s business.
The Resource Outlook to 2050, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/012/ak971e/ak971e00.pdf
Coping with Water Scarcity, http://www.unwater.org/downloads/waterscarcity.pdf
South Asian Media Net, “India Environmental Issues,” September 3, 2010 http://mediawitty.com/test/NewsDetail.aspx?group_
How to Feed the World in 2050, Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N., http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/wsfs/docs/expert_paper/
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, http://www.iiasa.ac.at/Research/SRD/ChinaFood/argu/impact/imp_51.htm
In 1975, the world held 4 billion people. In 2011, that number has grown to 7 billion.
It will reach 9 billion by 2050. According to the U.N., global food production must be
70% greater than today’s level to feed that population. To meet future demand, arable
land in developing countries would have to expand by about 120 million hectares.
However, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. projects arable land in
those nations will decline by 11% due to climate change.1
Added to this, the United
Nations Environment Program estimates water scarcity may reduce crop yields by
In fact, India, which reached a population of 1.2 billion early in 2011, already
saw per capita water availability drop by 70% between 1947 and 2002.3
By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in cities and large towns,4
access to fresh foods. Accelerating development means the volume of arable land will
continue declining. Between 1988 and 1995, well before its current economic boom,
China lost an estimated 980,000 hectares of farmland to construction.5
According to the World Bank, billions of people in the developing world already spend
half to three quarters of their income on food, with food prices having jumped 36%
between March 2010 and March 2011.6
Science is universal but
solutions are local
Although science provides answers that can be applied
universally, DuPont’s experience shows that solutions must
be found at the local level. This is mandated by wide variations
in environmental factors, including climate, soils and pests,
as well as by cultural traditions and issues surrounding
transportation and distribution infrastructures.
Malawi in southeast Africa is one of the world’s least developed
countries. Its economy is primarily agricultural, its population
largely rural. Peanuts and sorghum are staple foods for the
majority of the population, but neither delivers sufficient
protein. Raising livestock for protein is impractical due to cost
and lack of grazing land. Solae LLC, a DuPont joint venture
with Bunge, has worked with local farmers and leaders in Malawi
to develop a protein-rich soy supplement that can be provided
directly to the people.
The BAX system, created by DuPont Qualicon, is used around
the world to identify bacterial contamination in food at the
genetic level. Because standards and regulations for pathogen
detection can vary from country to country, DuPont Qualicon
may develop customized solutions for local needs. For example,
U.S. regulations mandate the food products must be free of
Listeria, so the BAX system tests for its presence or absence. In
the European Union, however, a threshold for Listeria has been
established in certain foods that do not offer a medium for
growth. So DuPont Qualicon developed an alternative protocol
to detect listeria above or below the allowable thresholds.
Protecting crops from indigenous pests in ways that accord with
local practices, traditions and conditions is critical. In China,
where plots of farmland are often less than a hectare (2.7 acres)
in size, DuPont Crop Protection packages products in sachets
of only five milliliters to meet local needs. In India, where
farmers prefer granulated crop protection formulas, products
were developed to meet that agronomic practice. DuPont Crop
Protection has more than 20 core research centers worldwide,
working in partnership with local farmers and government
Experts from Pioneer Hi-Bred – a DuPont business – were
working with local Filipino rice farmers to increase crop
yields with hybrid rice varieties when they recognized that the
traditional method of seed bed planting resulted in major loss
of yield to rodents, birds and insects prior to transplanting.
DuPont consulted with Inca Plastics and local farmers to develop
and distribute a rice drum seeder so farmers could plant pre-
germinated hybrid seeds, increasing yield while reducing labor.
The introduction of low cost mechanization makes farming more
productive while delivering a potential yield advantage of 600
kilograms compared with seed bed planting.
Collaboration unlocks the answers
Around the globe, DuPont scientists work in concert with farmers, local businesses, governments,
NGOs and others who know the “facts on the ground” in order to find the answers that will increase
production, reduce waste, fight disease and deliver nutrition to those most in need.
Tuta Absoluta, a moth originating in South America, entered the Mediterranean basin and was
threatening tomatoes, Spain’s largest export crop. DuPont Crop Protection brought its scientists, along
with agricultural experts from Brazil, where the moth had been successfully confronted, together with
Spanish officials to find ways to combat the pest.
Severe malnutrition remains an endemic concern in much of the developing world. Danisco, the
Danish food ingredients company that became part of the DuPont Nutrition Health business in
2011, worked with the Indian branch of the Norwegian emergency and therapeutic food manufacturer
Compact to develop EeZeePaste, a shelf-stable, low moisture product that delivers high energy and vital
nutrients to treat severely malnourished children and adults.
DuPont Qualicon and the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture are
collaborating on a new test for detecting hard-to-identify strains of toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) that
are not currently regulated but are a growing concern for foodborne illness in the United States, Europe,
Japan and food safety agencies worldwide.
Serious epidemics of rust, a disease of corn caused by the common fungus Puccinia sorghi, deplete both
crop yield and quality. Pioneer Hi-Bred joined with Argentina’s Institute of Genetics to study genetic
variability in the fungus. By taking rust samples from 10 to 25 locations each growing season, Pioneer
and its Argentine colleagues will identify genes that resist infection and develop hybrid corn with innate
resistance, maximizing yield and quality.
Once food is produced, its containers are the first line of defense against damage and spoilage resulting in
costly waste. DuPont Packaging works with local packaging technologists around the world —including
India, Africa, China and the U.S. — to develop custom resin applications that meet specific market
needs, maximize freshness and stability and reduce waste.
Science must become local wisdom
The conviction that know-how must be brought to the people and places that need it most is central
to the DuPont approach. Working side-by-side with the population in education and outreach efforts
transfers knowledge to the communities who will use it to secure their futures.
Palm oil trees are a crucial cash crop in Malaysia, but major food processors require plantations to be
certified as meeting a host of environmental and safety standards. Tapping the expertise within other
DuPont businesses, DuPont Crop Protection helped plantations receive certification by conducting hazard
risk assessments, establishing package recycling programs and providing safety training and protective
equipment. This was all in addition to on-site product stewardship efforts that showed workers how to
properly apply crop protection products.
Rural schools in Indonesia are hard pressed to provide basic facilities and equipment. As most parents
in rural Indonesia are farmers, Pioneer Hi-Bred introduced a program to help those parents learn about
hybrid corn technology, sustainable farming techniques, agribusiness and grain marketing. Nine schools
provided 15 hectares of land (about 40 acres) for corn production, agreeing to share in proceeds of the
corn crop. In the first year of the program, the schools realized nearly $6,000.
In Kenya, small dairy farmers were losing a significant percentage of raw milk to spoilage due to a
lack of refrigeration prior to transport to processing facilities. Danisco worked with the Food Science
Technology Department of Kenya’s Egerton University to provide a solution. Studies showed that
adding the enzyme hoxose oxidase (HOX) to raw milk extended its freshness for 12 to 15 hours without
refrigeration, allowing enough time for transporting. Plans call for this effort to be extended to small
dairy farmers in other developing nations.
By closely collaborating with regulatory agencies around the world, DuPont Qualicon helps many
countries improve their food safety readiness awareness. Advanced diagnostic technology allows
government services to identify local strands of specific bacteria and build domestic databases that help
epidemiologists trace the source of an outbreak more quickly.
Solutions must become
For DuPont, “sustainability” means more than expanding the food supply. It
also encompasses social, economic and ecological considerations, such as
infrastructure, storage, waste reduction and improving and preserving
water quality—all of which are critical to achieving global food security.
Soy can play a significant role in ensuring food security into 2050 and
beyond, as it yields approximately 356 pounds of usable protein and 500
pounds of oil per acre of farmland, compared to 82 pounds of protein for
milk and 78 for eggs. Raising a ton of soybeans requires about 2,500 gallons
of water, versus 4,500 for chicken and 5,900 for pork. Clearly, maximizing
soy as a food source worldwide can boost nutrition while preserving natural
resources. Solae™ soy proteins and Plenish™ high oleic soy oil are at the
forefront of delivering the nutritional benefits of one of the globe’s most
It’s a given that agriculture consumes huge quantities of water, but mechanized
methods – especially in commercial farming operations - also consume vast
amounts of fuel. Cultivation, planting, harvesting, plowing under and disking
can require 8 to 10 tractor trips over the land. Pioneer Hi-Bred has developed
corn that can be planted through the stalks and is resistant to weeds and
insects, dramatically reducing the total number of tractor trips, saving fuel
and diminishing creation of greenhouse gasses.
It is estimated that 40 to 60 percent of global crop yield would be lost to
insects or weeds without crop protection products. But pesticides must
be created and applied in a manner that protects farmers and the greater
environment. DuPont Crop Protection develops products on a parallel
track—environmental considerations are part of the RD process as well
as efficacy. For example, methods are in development to treat seed stock
before planting, reducing exposure of agricultural workers to crop