World food production will decrease by as much as 25% by 2050 due to "environmental breakdowns" associated with climate change, according to the United Nations.
A new report released by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) has urged radical changes in the way "food is produced, handled and disposed of across the globe" to avert the risk of widescale hunger.
The 2008 world food crisis — which increased the world's malnourished by a staggering 100 million people — may foreshadow a far greater crisis if immediate action is not taken, UNEP reported.
"Climate change emerges as one of the key factors that may undermine the chances of feeding over nine billion people by 2050. Increasing water scarcities and a rise and spread of invasive pests such as insects, diseases and weeds — may substantially depress yields in the future", UNEP declared.
The report called upon governments to adopt "deep and decisive" cuts to emissions at the Copenhagen Summit on climate change in December.
To avert mass starvation, particularly in the impoverished global South, the UNEP advances seven major recommendations to improve food security.
The proposals include the reallocation of cereals used in animal feed to human consumption; the regulation of food prices to ensure food for the impoverished, and far greater support for small-scale farmers through a global fund for the micro-financing of sustainable farming.
An essential component would be a universal shift away from the use of industrial fertilisers and pesticides.
[The full text of UNEP's The Environmental Food Crisis report is available at