The rate of growth in commodity supplies, and the rate of growth in productivity are inequitable, report authors write, citing a prior study on the topic. This has in turn fueled rising commodity prices that was exacerbated by underinvestment in ag research.
A victim of underinvestment, the report hypothesizes, could be genetically modified crops and the surrounding regulatory hurdles facing the technology.
A 2011 study cited in the CAST paper argues that adoption of GM varieties in corn could increase yields significantly, and could lower commodity prices. The study suggested that if Europe and Africa would adopt GM technology, food availability would improve and food prices would become more affordable.
"Continued capacity to provide food to meet growing demands requires an increase in investment of research as well as regulatory policies that will enable implementation of new technologies," the report says.
The authors warn, however, that there is continued uncertainty about the evolution of yield. Examples of uncertainty include climate change, which is expected to decrease yield; streamlining of GMO regulations, which could be caused by pressure from higher food prices; and projected intensification of agricultural production.
Energy and biomass come into play, too
The transition into new technologies is currently at a turning point. The root of the movement, the CAST report says, is the fact that the age of stable, cheap oil is over.
Report authors say the economy hinges on oil prices: recession leads to lower oil prices; lower oil prices promote economic recovery, thereby increasing oil demand; oil prices rise in turn, stopping the emerging recovery and returning to recession.